Less than 36 hours apart, the Resist Trump: Occupy Inauguration Boston! rally and the Boston Women’s March for America provided two outlets for people to express their anger and anxiety over the reality of a Trump presidency—or simply to march in solidarity with communities affected by the hate that has surrounded it.
On Friday, the night of Trump’s inauguration, a small crowd gathered at the Parkman Bandstand in the Boston Common. With an overwhelming police presence in the area, protesters gathered to voice concerns and denounce the new president’s divisive rhetoric. Organized by the Boston Socialist Alternative and Boston Socialist Students, the speakers focused largely on healthcare, student loan debt, and immigrant rights.
One powerful moment occurred as a woman took the microphone and introduced herself in Spanish as a dining employee of Northeastern University. On Friday, many Northeastern dining hall workers, including the speaker, went on a one-day strike to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump. The woman described how Trump’s harmful words are not to be ignored—they symbolize a negativity and cynicism that will serve only to divide America. As she ended her speech, the crowd united to chant “SI SE PUEDE” with the reverberation heard throughout the Boston Common.
While there were serious and profound moments at the rally, it was often hard to focus on the true message of the event with such distracting signage and effigies around. Though most of the signs were positive in their delivery, advocating the protection of minority groups and the preservation of healthcare, others took a darker tone, with one inscribed “America was never great!” and another crudely insulting Hillary Clinton’s appearance. One group at the rally even coordinated a 9-foot tall puppet of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, in which Governor Baker had a report card pinned to his lapel. The group 'graded' Baker quite stingily, with F's in every category.
Offshoot presentations, seemingly unaffiliated with the Boston Socialist Alternative and Boston Socialist Students, were also taking place near the Parkman Bandstand. Boston saw its own Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders impersonators, as two men, donning masks depicting the 2016 presidential candidates, held a mock trial of the former Secretary of State and implicated Clinton in said trial.
The rally’s socialist roots were apparent, as the participants seemed to be less concerned with Trump’s divisive rhetoric and more intent on demanding that the government abolish economic inequalities, such as eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy. Though the speakers did have mostly positive messages, the event was not mainstream enough to attract a monumental crowd like that of the Women’s March the following afternoon.
On Saturday, a crowd estimated at over 150,000 people gathered in the Boston Common to kick off the city’s seminal response to the inauguration—the Boston Women’s March for America. The Women’s March website does not explicitly refer to President Trump, but it does clarify the mission of the event: “To march in solidarity with communities most affected by the hate, intolerance, and acts of violence being perpetrated throughout the nation.”
The participants of the Women’s March showed a tangible and unbound reverence for Hillary Clinton. Mothers toting their young daughters held signs reading “Women’s rights are human rights." An elderly woman wore an oversized t-shirt emblazoned “I am a nasty woman!” and on the back “Just try me…” Her partner, a similarly aged man, wore a pink “pussy hat,” a popular symbol of disapproval of Trump’s “locker room talk."
High-profile speakers, including Mayor Marty Walsh and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, rallied the crowd and spoke about the difficulties of the next four years. Senator Warren, in particular, emphasized the importance of action, proclaiming: “We can whimper, we can whine, or we can fight back.”
The energy of the Boston Women’s March for America felt powerful—the marchers were tied together by their unwillingness to be silenced. And those in attendance were by no means silent, carrying signs written “I’ve seen better cabinets at IKEA” and chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Love trumps hate” along the route. A unifying event, the Boston Women’s March seemed to apply a salve to the wounds of the election results with those in attendance receiving an affirmation that no, they were not alone.
While the Resist Trump rally succeeded in uniting people on the far-left side of the political spectrum, the Boston Women’s March accomplished a monumental achievement in bonding people from all backgrounds. Those identifying with differing genders, races, ethnicities, citizenship statuses, and sexual orientations were all in attendance, coming together in a demonstration of support for women—a demographic threatened by the hate and intolerance of Trump’s words and actions. Accordingly, hundreds of thousands of Bostonians marched in solidarity in response to the inauguration, united under a common principle missing from the 2016 presidential campaign: respect for all.