Six days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, dozens of people — from college students to gray-haired hippies — gathered in a classroom at American University in Washington D.C. to listen a lawyer offer tips on how to handle getting arrested.
A woman in her late 30s raised her hand. She was worried that, since she’s a teacher, an arrest could get her fired and maybe hurt her chances at landing another job.
“We’ve had teachers get arrested,” the lawyer said. “It’s not the end of the world.” That’s likely reassuring, since for many of those in attendance, the kind of disruption that could end in arrest is the goal.
The morning’s legal training session was one of several classes offered by a group of anti-Trump activists calling themselves DisruptJ20 — “J20” standing for January 20. The event was a training camp of sorts for protesters aiming to “shut down” the nation’s capitol during president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.
The intentions of those gathered made the university hosting the event eager to keep the activists at arm’s length — American made it very clear that it is not affiliated with DisruptJ20, and those who attended the seminar were asked to sign a waiver alleviating the university of any potential legal action that might stem from hosting a conference where people are essentially trained to break the law.
“American University is concerned that aspects of this program involve training participants to take actions at the inauguration that could potentially put them in harm’s way and disobey the law,” said Kelly Alexander, an American University spokeswoman.
Judging the day’s agenda and the interests of its participants, her concerns — that laws may be “disobeyed” — seem well-founded.
“We’re bringing widespread civil resistance to the streets of Washington DC through protests, direct actions, and even parties,” said Legba Carrefour, a DisruptJ20 organizer who has been involved in what he calls “radical activism” for about 20 years. In a previous interview, Carrefour told Vocativ, “We’re not just organizing some boring-ass march — we want direct action.”
DisruptJ20 is not a single entity; it serves as an umbrella organization aimed at helping other groups and individuals organize against Trump. So far, at least 91 different groups have signed on to be a part of DisruptJ20, including several anarchist groups and anti-fascist organizations across the country.
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SOURCE: James King