One of the necessary freedoms enjoyed in America is the First Amendment freedom of speech, and thousands expressed that freedom in protest during Friday’s inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the nation’s 45th president. Busloads upon busloads left cities across America and went to Washington D.C. with the purpose being to protest Trump and his policies.
Portsmouth Attorney Shawn Stratton was in Washington when some of the Friday protests got out of hand and arrests were made.
“There were loads of protesters, a lot of high emotions right now,” Stratton said. “A lot of people arguing, cussing each other, screaming. The protesters are actually about a block or two away from the White House, but also a block or two away from the Convention Center where we’re going to the ball tonight.”
According to the Associated Press, spirited demonstrations unfolded peacefully at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through to the inaugural ceremony. Signs read, “Resist Trump Climate Justice Now,” ”Let Freedom Ring,” and ”Free Palestine.”
The Daily Times’ attempts to talk with people from Scioto County who were going to the protests were unfruitful. However, the Times caught up with one of the state’s organizers, Alex Van Gulijk on Friday before the actual rally she was planning to attend was held on Saturday.
Van Gulijk was asked how many buses were sent from Ohio.
“I am not sure about buses,” Van Gulijk said. “I originally was trying to get a charter bus I just know in the Ohio area in general. In fact, quite a few last-minute buses have been put together for the women’s march tomorrow (Saturday), especially in the Columbus area.”
Van Gulijk said she ended up driving to the nation’s capitol to attend the rally and protest, and had women’s rights on her mind in making the trip.
“For me, the whole purpose for going is to advocate for women’s rights,” Van Gulijk said. “I know there have been several different types of laws in the last several years that have been on the table for Congress people including abortion laws or talking about the wage gap for women and so for me, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to really advocate for equal rights for women and the right to choose as far as a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her life.”
The AP said at one point, police gave chase to a group of about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses as they denounced capitalism and Trump. Police in riot gear used pepper spray from large canisters and eventually cordoned off the protesters.
Van Gulijk was clear about her reasons for attending the protests.
‘We’re not talking about whether or not men can do certain things (better) than women,” Van Gulijk said. “For me that is concerned equal rights.”
The march Van Gulijk was planning to attend was held Saturday.
“There’s a rally starting at 10 a.m. in downtown DC,” Van Gulijk said. “And then that physical marching, which is a mile-and-a-half route, will start at 1:30 p.m. The organization has spent a lot of time to ensure that the proper resources are there – that we got the proper permits, so that our march will be safe and good for everybody.”
Van Gulijk said her plan at the time was to stay somewhere outside of DC, such as Maryland and take the metro into the city for the events.
“I want to get to downtown DC and attend the rally and talk with others to empower women and what their message is and why they march and to actually do the march and have our voices be heard,” Van Gulijk said.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.