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Committee for a Workers International :: Socialist Alternative
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The London anti-Trump demonstration on 4 February was one of the most crowded we have ever been on - and one of the most eventful.
We tried to get students to sign a pledge to walk out if Donald Trump ever does come to Britain - the new 'Day X'.
We were doing this in the tradition of the protests against Tony Blair's Iraq war in 2003, where thousands of ordinary students walked out of their schools, colleges and universities, united against a right-wing force. Even though they did not stop Blair from going to war, they did show the potential strength of a united mass movement.
Every student we asked agreed to sign! We were particularly taken aback with the number of secondary school students signing up as we've sometimes found it hard to get political campaigning going in our schools.
We ran an open mic for people to speak and chant from. The protesters around us loved this. Many took to the mic to spread their solidarity with Muslims and their hatred of Trump.
We met loads of ordinary people who were coming out onto the streets for the first time.
It became even more apparent that the rise of Donald Trump has had a massive politicising effect, in particular on students. Some loved it so much that they joined us behind our Socialist Students banner.
Ordinary people spilled out onto the streets in search of an alternative to the right wing. Socialist ideas were on the tip of lots of people's tongues.
To quote a friend who had previously always insisted that nothing we do can make a difference: "We will protest and resist until we win the struggle."
On 20 January, thousands of high school and college students at over 40 campuses in cities across the US participated in walkouts organised by Socialist Students US.
In Seattle, a total of 2,000 students walked out of 15 schools, including college campuses, high schools, and middle schools. Many came together for a Socialist Students' organised mass rally at Seattle Central College.
There, Socialist Students member Ezgi Eygi explained how movements of workers and young people had fought for and won most major progressive gains of the past century, including against Republican administrations.
Seattle city councillor and Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant spoke about the important example of the bold student walkouts, which defied Seattle School Board warnings.
She said more disruptive actions like these will be needed in the age of Trump, because "symbolic protest will not be enough, we need to build mass non-violent civil disobedience."
In Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota Socialist Students walkout started with a rally of 400 people before joining forces with Augsburg College students and then converging with the #NoDAPL and immigrant rights rallies to create a 1,000-strong march to city hall.
Socialist Students organiser Tyler Vasseur addressed the joint rally, calling "to combine our movements for the greatest possible resistance to Trump's agenda."
Socialist Students in New York City organised with a grassroots coalition including Socialist Alternative, the Democratic Socialists of America, Occupy Kensington, and Metropolitan Council on Housing. The joint protest had a crowd of over 1,000 at the Trump Building on Wall Street.
At UC Berkeley in California, a crowd of 2,000 was joined by several hundred Berkeley High students. At UCLA, students held a rally at the campus' main library where speakers from Socialist Students, trade unions, and student groups addressed an electrified crowd.
In Boston, Socialist Students joined with 150 striking dining hall workers from Northeastern University to fight against anti-worker, anti-immigrant attacks. Later that evening they converged with Socialist Alternative's mass rally of 4,000 that called for a united defence of reproductive rights and healthcare.
Despite intimidation tactics deployed by the Worcester school administration, over 100 students walked out from four area high schools, along with Worcester State University and Clark University.
Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati walkouts attracted hundreds of students, becoming the largest political demonstrations organised at both campuses in decades.
Chicago Socialist Students helped organise a walkout with Evanston Township High School (ETHS) on 24 January. Over 400 students marched out.
The anti-Trump walkouts underscore the enormous importance of youth in movements and of radical youth organisations like Socialist Students.
Socialist Students organiser Cole Weirich summed up the rebellion of youth against Trump and the predatory system of capitalism: "There's this saying that the youth will inherit the earth, but that's not true about our generation. If we want this world, we have to fight for it."
Trump is sending a clear message against our immigrant brothers and sisters, and it is time to activate the resistance. He has repeatedly promised to deport two to three million undocumented immigrants, threatening to do in months what took the Obama administration eight years!
If Trump keeps his promise, he will need to go back to the tactics used during the Bush years with workplace and neighbourhood raids that rounded up thousands of workers at car washes, meatpacking plants, and grocery stores.
Considering the current climate, this approach could spark massive resistance. It would not be the first time that overreaching by the Republican Party against immigrants led to a tremendous upheaval in society.
In 2005, the Republican-dominated House passed the Sensenbrenner Bill, targeting all undocumented workers for deportation and criminalising anyone giving them assistance.
It led to one of the biggest waves of mass demonstrations in US history, culminating in the historic 'day without immigrants' on 1 May 2006. This included strike action that paralysed important sections of the economy, such as the port of Los Angeles. This courageous movement stopped the bill and pushed back anti-immigrant attitudes.
But the unions tragically failed to bring the native-born working class out alongside immigrant workers, leaving them isolated.
Through workplace raids, especially in industries where organising drives were underway, many were deported, the movement was broken down, and the demand for "equal rights for all workers" was temporarily defeated.
But while Trump wants to implement his agenda in a hurry, this is not the same country it was a decade ago.
A new generation has been radicalised and galvanised into struggle by the immigrant Dreamer campaign, Occupy, the Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter, and the Dakota pipeline struggle. Millions responded last year to Bernie Sanders' call for a political revolution against the billionaire class.
Trump's agenda can be defeated, but it will take more than protests and demonstrations if we are going to win. This time, native-born workers and young people must come out in active solidarity with immigrant workers.
The unions have a crucial role to play; not only organising key workplaces but also calling mass meetings where workers can discuss, plan, and organise nonviolent civil disobedience actions, including strike action.
Networks are already being built in a number of cities to prepare mass nonviolent civil disobedience to resist the deportations.
Defending immigrants' rights is not only a question of fairness or justice. Millions feel threatened by Trump's attacks on women's rights, workers' rights, and environmental protections.
Trump knows he will face massive opposition and wants to win quick victories. A defeat of one struggle could send a wave of demoralisation to all our movements. We can't allow one step back! The right-wing agenda can be defeated but only if all of us unite in solidarity and build our social power, the strongest force of humanity.
Once again thousands of people took to the streets of London to voice their fury at Donald Trump's racist travel ban, this time gathering at the US embassy and marching to Downing Street on 4 February. And once again Socialist Party members were out in force to argue for a socialist alternative to the racist, sexist billionaire and the rotten system of capitalism he represents.
Homemade banners abounded, expressing all the issues people were angry about, including war and the environment.
While everyone agreed with the anti-racist message from the official platform, calling for unity and defending refugees, we found a significant number of people looking for more.
Lots of people wanted to know how a movement can be built, not just more demos but what next? We talked about the potential for student walkouts and workers' strikes.
We talked about the necessity of demands that can unite all sections of the working class - for jobs and homes, for decent pay and against austerity. Many people wanted to say more than just "Dump Trump", and donated money for our placards saying "Socialism not Trumpism".
Big numbers of school and college students were on the demo, and the Socialist Students team boldly approached as many as possible with the idea of walking out on 'Day X' - whenever Donald Trump steps foot in Britain.
On the third Leeds anti-Trump protest in two weeks, 1,000 people gathered in Victoria Gardens to listen to speakers before marching through the city centre, growing in number as we went. Socialist Party member Amy Cousens spoke about the link between oppression and class, explaining how prejudice finds its root in, and is promoted by, capitalism.
She called for plans to organise beyond demonstrations, including Socialist Students' proposed school and college walkout on the day Trump comes to Britain. Over 50 young people signed up to support this.
There was an uplifting feeling of solidarity in Worcester as 100 of us came out to demonstrate outside the Guildhall against Trump. Protesters as young as seven took to the megaphone against his outrageous ban on travel, the refugee plan and his ridiculous wall.
For the second time in a week, on 4 February hundreds of Brummies turned out to protest against Donald Trump's 'Muslim ban' and the prospect of him being invited to the UK for a state visit.
Gathering in front of Waterstones, the 500 strong protest then took off on a march, which was filmed, applauded and saluted with raised fists by shoppers. Several of them even joined in as the demo made its way around the city centre.
Socialist Party member Corinthia Ward addressed the crowd, explaining the need for a united, working class fightback against Trump and the capitalist system that he represents.
Over 20 people left their details to find out about joining the Socialist Party.
The Harrogate protest against Trump may have been organised by a veteran peace activist, but it was young people who dominated the event on 2 February.
Several school students spoke, expressing their opposition to Trump's racist, sexist and homophobic agenda.
Iain Dalton, on behalf of the Socialist Party, highlighted that Theresa May hoped that linking up with Trump would strengthen her, but it could turn out to be her Achilles heel.
Iain called for further protests on 20 February when the two million-strong petition calling for a cancellation of Trump's state visit is debated in parliament. He also called for students to organise and walk out on 'Day X' (the day of Trump's visit) if it goes ahead. Many students pledged to do this.
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Committee for a Workers International (1)
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Democratic Socialist Movement (47)
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Socialist Alternative (265)
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Article dated 8 February 2017
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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