On an unseasonably warm night for mid-January, a makeshift band, giant bird puppets and a crowd of thousands gathered around Athens City Hall in protest of newly inaugurated President Donald Trump, filling in every inch of space from Washington Street to Hancock Avenue and from College Avenue to the City Hall doors.
At what might be the largest march in Athens history, the Day of Resistance drew an estimated 2,500–4,500 attendees, according to Athens for Everyone, who helped organize it.
While the march was organized in response to the inauguration of Trump, it was not specific to one cause. Speakers included representatives from U-Lead Athens, an organization for undocumented students; The Cottage, a nonprofit that assists sexual assault survivors; Students for Justice in Palestine and Athens for Everyone.
Looking on from the roof of the Washington Street parking deck and the steps of the First American Bank and Trust, the crowd joined in chants like “The people united will never be defeated!” in between speakers.
“The only suggestion I have for a wall is that we build one around the Donald himself,” said Sophia Perez, a student from U-Lead Athens, after describing the obstacles facing undocumented immigrants, especially students, in the wake of a new president strongly opposed to immigration reform. “I refuse to accept anything less than respect for these people.”
Sally Sheppard, executive director of The Cottage, spoke to the crowd about sexual assault, of which President Trump was caught on tape bragging about before appearing on “Access Hollywood” in 2005. Osama Mor from Students for Justice in Palestine objected to the continued support of Israel by administrations “both Republican and Democrat”.
“Our marginalized communities are under attack. Our communities are aware of these attacks. We are organizing against these challenges. We will protect our people,” Mor said. “We have to fight, we have to resist, not just Trump but the entire system.”
Marchers only had access to the sidewalks, filing the huge crowd into a line that could be seen stretching from City Hall, down Hancock and circling back around up Clayton all at once. It was clear from the looks of shock on patrons inside Creature Comforts brewery that no one was expecting a crowd this large.
The march also included stops along the route, including the double-barreled cannon; a fraternity house, "where, we know, sometimes consent is debatable,” march organizer Ashley Na said; and Wells Fargo bank, which represent “points of importance” regarding the problems activists have organized against, Na said.
Before the march began, poet Celest Ngeve challenged the crowd: “I want to know what it’s going to take for us to be a fist. Not just a pinky or a thumb or a pointer finger—a fist. It’s going to take all of us… And at the nucleus of our hand there’s got to be love, there’s got to be peace and there’s got to be unity.”
As the crowd began to move along the route, one group shouted, “Tell me what democracy looks like!” To which marchers responded, “This is what democracy looks like!”
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones
This post has been update to correct Ashley Na's quote about consent.