At 5:00 p.m. on Inauguration Day, I found myself in downtown Chicago, peering across the river at Trump Tower, which was obscured in an eerie fog. In my hands I clutched a hastily-made sign, reading “This Jew Stands Against Fascism” in bold script on one side, and the Yiddish version of the Jewish Bund of the early twentieth century, “For Our Freedom And Yours,” on the other.
All around me stood more than a 1,000 like-minded individuals – not necessarily Jewish but certainly vocally opposed to what we saw as a fascist in the White House. As night fell and the fog spread, we marched around Trump Tower, closing down streets, peacefully evading police barriers, and generally making ourselves heard. The marching paused at one point for a small succession of speeches from local Black Lives Matter activists, Filipino rights activists, and LGBT community groups, among others.
This protest, with its wide proliferation of red flags, repeated denunciations of Trump’s racism and fascism, and common vulgar language, differed greatly from the march I attended the next morning. Saturday morning, I took my family to the Women’s March on Chicago, one of the series of protests worldwide that have made headlines since. Chicago’s was the largest outside of Washington, D.C., with 250,000 attending despite organizers only expecting 50,000.
The Women’s March was someone more focused, with the vast majority of the signs relating in one way or another to Trump’s offensive comments on women’s autonomy, consent, and bodies. It was also more liberal than radical – the chants “Not My President” and “Love Trumps Hate” replaced last night’s “No Trump / No KKK / No Fascist USA.”
Both were valuable in their own way, with the Women’s Marches representing a mass mobilization against Trump and the radical protest leading the way for a more pointed form of organizing and tackling local issues. Although I’m leaving the country in a couple of weeks, I’m planning to take part in more protests of both kinds in my remaining kind. As a Jew who has witnessed the spike in anti-Semitism of recent months with a deep sense of dread for the future, and as a Jew whose values drive him to speak out for others whose rights and safety are at risk, I have no choice but to show my opposition to the stated policies of the new administration by exercising my democratic right to protest.