On Inauguration Day, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend on Washington, D.C. Some will be happy revelers celebrating a new president. Some will wave signs to show their displeasure.
But only one group has stated it wants to turn Inauguration Day into a “cluster f--k," that there will be "no peaceful transition," and that the inaugural parade "must be stopped." That group is the D.C. Counter-Inaugural Committee, the people behind DisruptJ20.
"We are voicing our alarm," organizer Lacy MacAuley told the International Business Times. "When we say 'no peaceful transition,' we mean we are going to be using every bit of air in our lungs and all of our strength to call this administration what it is, which is one that is not likely to serve the people."
The event was launched publicly with a YouTube video on Nov. 11 and on social media accounts the following day. On Sunday, the group will hold its second general meeting to “firm up" plans, according to the group’s website. Organizers are calling the meeting a “spokes council,” and have written the event is open to “individual activists, organization staff, affinity groups, collectives, artists, medics and healers, and anyone else who wants to help shut down the inauguration.” However, “law enforcement and media are not welcome,” the invitation states.
The meeting will take place in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., but the exact location was not been disclosed, and will be sent to participants by email before the event. The public schedule for the meeting is, not surprisingly, vague. But what is listed publicly includes an hour-long orientation, an hour of “logistic working group meetings” and two hours of “action planning and coordination.”
"There are some interesting things being planned. I am not at liberty to give a lot of details," MacAuley said, adding "I don't advocate harming anyone. That's not what this is about."
On Jan. 14 and 15, the group will conduct mass training at its DisruptJ20 Action Camp in preparation for a variety of actions on Inauguration Day, which include protests at all 12 security checkpoints, artistic performances and an unpermitted anti-capitalist parade. The group will deploy medics, legal aid to anyone arrested and "de-escalation" security staff to prevent altercations between protesters and parade attendees.
A group of Washington, D.C.-based activists has been planning action at the inauguration for months, but the results of the election drastically changed the preparation and the design of the protest. MacAuley acknowledged that the group would have still taken some sort of action if Hillary Clinton had been the one taking the oath of office on Jan. 20.
"Organized resistance to policies that are harming us and people all over the world needs to go on, regardless of who is in power in the White House," MacAuley said.
Three days after Trump won the election on Nov. 8, a video announcing the event appeared on a YouTube channel linked to a group that described itself as a "video production ensemble" aiming "to promote anarchist and anti-capitalist ideas, and aid social struggles through the dissemination of radical films and videos." The video has been viewed more than 127,000 times.
“We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear,” a digitized woman’s voice said in the video. “The parade must be stopped.”
D.C. police wouldn't comment on individual protest groups. But a spokesperson said in an email the Metro Police Department is "prepared for all types of demonstrations."
"On Inauguration Day, we will be committed to working with citizens to allow peaceful protests," the spokesperson said.
More than 25 groups have requested permits from the National Park Service to protest the inauguration, according to a local NBC affiliate.
The scale of the DisruptJ20 operation is not clear. Organizers said they expect "tens of thousands" of people to participate in their actions, but the group’s social media footprint is limited. The Twitter handle @Disruptj20 has less than 2,000 followers and the DisruptJ20 Facebook page has 3,318 followers as of press time.
DisruptJ20 said on social media that 200 people attended the group’s first planning meeting on Dec. 11. Just a few days before, Google searches for “DisruptJ20” spiked when filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted about the event.
In late December, organizer Legba Carrefour told DCist the size of the action is not a measure of its impact.
"Let's say 100,000 people show up to the Women's March. 100,000 at the Women’s March is going to have a lot less impact than if you get 1,000 people showing up and doing blockades,” Carrefour said. “We can do a lot with few people."