Featured Resource: A Trip Back in Time: It Wouldn’t Be Inauguration Day Without Protestors (NPR) 
More than 200,000 demonstrators are expected in Washington, D.C. during inauguration week. This NPR report offers a historical perspective of the tradition of protest on inauguration day. 


Do Now 

Can protest and dissent be a part of a peaceful transition? Why or why not? #DoNowInauguration


How to Do Now

Do Now by posting a video response in this week’s Flipgrid. Join the conversation here.

You can also post your response on Twitter or in the comment section below. Be sure to include #DoNowInauguration in your tweet.

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 The Inauguration

The presidential inauguration, a ceremony marking the transition from one administration to another, is an occasion steeped in tradition. From a customary morning prayer, to musical performances and the singing of the national anthem, the event celebrates the incoming president and provides an opportunity to set the tone of their term in office through the inaugural address. At the January 20 ceremony, President Donald Trump took the oath of office and was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

With a 44 percent approval rating, President Trump assumed the role with the lowest approval rating for an incoming president in the past 40 years. In his inaugural address to a cheering crowd of supporters, however, Trump outlined a new vision for the country that puts “America first”.

Many groups applied for protest permits during inauguration week, the largest being the Women’s March, scheduled for the day after the inauguration. Over 200,000 participants have registered for the event, whose mission is to “stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

In another notable act of resistance, nearly 70 Democratic lawmakers chose to boycott the ceremony. Some made the decision to stand in solidarity with Representative John Lewis, who was publicly criticized by Trump for his statements about the president-elect’s legitimacy. Trump responded by saying the long time civil rights activist was “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results.”

Protests are not uncommon at inaugural events. Anger over U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War boiled over to protest at President Nixon’s second inauguration, and in 2001 thousands lined the the parade route of newly instated President George W. Bush following a hotly contested presidential race. At President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, various groups  voiced their opinion on issues from same-sex marriage to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

What are your thoughts? Do you think protest and dissent can be a part of a peaceful transition of power? Why or why not?


More Resources

OPINION: Boycotting The Inauguration May Be The Right Protest But the Wrong Battleground  (Los Angeles Times)
LA Times editor John Healy notes the significance of protesting the presidential inauguration and explains why he believes that the ceremony deserves more respect.

LYRICS: “One Last Time”  from Hamilton: An American Musical (Genius)
The two-term limit and peaceful transfer of power was established by our first president, George Washington. In these annotated lyrics, “Hamilton” writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, offers an interpretation of Washington’s intent to teach the American people how to peacefully say goodbye.

 


Find best practices for using Do Now, using Twitter for teaching, and using other digital tools.

Can Protest and Dissent Accompany a Peaceful Transition? 8 March,2017Chanelle Ignant
  • Sean Hemmersmeier

    Protests are an important part of democracy, and I think that they are vital to free speech. But in my opinion protests at inaugurations are counter-productive since they are protesting a person who has not done anything concrete in office yet. A transfer of power will never be completely peaceful but in America we have a found a way to keep the transitions as peaceful as possible. These protests in my opinion do not unite the country in a good way, if people really want to protest a new president they have that right and I will try to stop them. In my opinion I would delay these protests until the protest has done something concrete in office that is worth protesting.

  • Joey Mancini

    I fully support protesting. I think that protests are especially great for building unity and a sense of a togetherness in a time when many people feel alone. But I think that if any of these protests is to lead to a peaceful transition, people need to be protesting for the right reasons. Everyone should be out fighting for the everyone’s rights: women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, etc. However, I do not think that that protestors should be saying “F*** Donald Trump” and “He’s not my president!”, no matter how they feel about the outcome of the election. For any bridge to be built between the political parties, there cannot be this kind of hate. So stand up for what you believe, fight for what you want, but do not attack the man, attack the system.

  • Foster Dennin

    I believe that most protests can be peaceful and just as effective. We have seen this fact proven as the marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. were effective and powerful and peaceful. This is proof that they can be effective and help our American Democracy. I also think that they can help a transition. It is letting the president know the issues that are bothering people and hopefully the president would take these events into account.
    I think the past weeks protests have made clear the distaste that is in our country right now. When protests are violent they do not help with a peaceful transition. So I have differing opinions in the end. But mostly we’ve seen that the peaceful approach is the best approach.
    http://www.boston.com/news/history/2017/01/18/a-nation-of-dissent-the-most-famous-inaugural-protests-in-u-s-history

  • cschaf

    Protest and dissent have been a part of most, if not all, transitions from president to president. Peaceful protest has also been proven to have great affect on the public, the media, and the government’s views of the issues. Protest, when kept peaceful, can be influential and supportive. We must stay focused on the positive light, and where there can be growth. If a large group/ majority want change, then change will come, but we must not burn all communication and peaceful discussion options in the process of challenging people’s differences.
    However, in this past election and transition of power to Donald J. Trump, certain protesters were not just protesting Trump, but were protesting the peaceful process. http://freebeacon.com/politics/inauguration-protester-not-in-favor-peaceful-transition-power/
    Even though many are opposed to who the transfer of power, we must keep the tradition peaceful. Protest and dissent are allowed, but if we keep it peaceful, the ideas will be more clearly heard and considered.

  • Jackson Start

    I believe the people that protest do it in a peaceful way to show their intentions are pure and not to be interpreted in a malicious way. The peaceful transition that is supposed to happen during this time is meant be an understanding of the two opposing parties. Recently during the anti-Trump protests they got out of hand by having a limo torched which is not peaceful at all. With many people facing felony charges from these its escalating into something bigger that could end up dividing the U.S. in the near future.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/limo-torched-in-dc-protests-belongs-to-muslim-immigrant-may-cost-70000-in-damages/article/2612747

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-protest-washington-riot-ten-year-jail-sentence-direct-action-demonstration-a7540071.html

  • Sean Parent

    I believe that protest at and during a peaceful transfer of power is essential to the progress of a state. By having peaceful protest and dissent at an event such as the U.S. presidential inauguration the elected leader can see what the people need in order for the state to flourish with the least amount of internal damage happening. As seen in history, revolution in France in 1848 was happening through assemblies in Paris among the low working class and the upper and lower middle class. These assemblies where largely held as liberalist assemblies seeking reform and change. The change included expanded suffrage to all people of all classes and some where held for the suffrage of women. People not only met in these assemblies but also in the streets. Some of the people in the streets where peaceful, but many tore up the road and created barricades to keep the French military from stopping the protest. Among some of the barricades where cannons mounted due to people having access to armories in Paris. This is no way to protest in today’s society. However, we still do much of the same thing. We still go out into the streets and let our voices be heard or we go out and hold an assembly of people and create a plan to reform for the greatest good. Another example in history is when Germany was still the Confederation of Germany with Prussia splitting it in half. Many Liberal reformers where exiled from Prussia do to the Conservative monarchy. In 1848, reformers returned to the Prussian king with a constitution for a unified Germany. This was also a nationalist reform. The Prussian king denied the constitution to change from the conservative monarchy into a constitutional government similar to that of England. This is an example of one way the American people or people of any nationality should protest. The most similar way I have seen this kind of request to reform is writing letters to the local representative of a certain state or organization. I have written letters to the Utah legislative representative requesting change in our air quality and how we act to clean the air. The most I have seen change is signs asking people to drive less and carpool. I have sent calls to action to our representative to have them create more strict laws concerning our environment and our air quality in the Salt Lake City valley. Salt Lake City has been ranked 6th worst in the United States (http://www.sltrib.com/home/3799747-155/slc-ranked-as-6th-worst-in-the). Peaceful protest doesn’t have to be marching in the streets or holding assembly in the capital building. It can also be sending letters to local representatives and people in a position of power and authority who can help change for the greatest good.
    To conclude, it is crucial to the greatest good of the greatest amount of people for people to go out and protest and dissent in peaceful manners. This can be by marching in the streets, holding assemblies, or sending of letters. Do it peacefully and act for the change that you would like to see. If your going to a march or assembly on the environment then bike there.

  • M Oliver

    Not only are protests a right of the American people in the Constitution (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment), but they are also a fundamental necessity of a healthy democracy (are protests necessary for a healthy democracy). People need to be able to voice their discontent. Silencing protests would bring us one step further away from the democracy we know and love. Our system of government and society has always been based off of healthy disagreement; the problem now is that the disagreements are turning into hate towards the other side, rather than simply differing opinions debating an issue (http://www.people-press.org/2016/06/22/partisanship-and-political-animosity-in-2016/). There is absolutely nothing wrong with peaceful protests.
    Things can get tricky, however, when people start to question the legitimacy of the presidency. On the other hand, if there is true cause for concern about the legitimacy of the presidency, then that needs to be investigated. The difficulty comes in the delicate balance of the peaceful transition of power. In all of my life, I have never once worried about the stability of our country during an election. Now, however, it seems as if half the country is erupting with fury, and not without cause.
    As long as protests remain peaceful in intent, they should continue to take place. People have protested many inaugurations in the past (https://mic.com/articles/163500/biggest-inauguration-day-protests-bush-nixon), and if such a significant amount of people have such strong feelings, it’s important that they let the new government know exactly how they feel. The government, after all, does exist to lead the people, and if they aren’t leading the people according to what the people want or need, the people are obliged to speak out.
    The biggest problem is that there are no efforts being made to repair the extreme divide in our country today. Trump has made no efforts to reconcile with the Democratic party, as he is now the leader of ALL of the country, not just the people that voted for him. The Democrats are upset, and Trump hasn’t done anything to qualm their fears (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38695593). The protestors have every right to stand up for what they believe.

  • KatieScott

    The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (https://www.loc.gov/law/help/peaceful-assembly/us.php) Therefor as citizens of the United States, we have the right to a peaceful protest. I believe that there is a fine line between peaceful protesting and rioting. When protesters incite violence, break laws or are destructive then you are not contributing to a peaceful transition. On the other hand, I do not believe peaceful protesting disrupts the “peaceful transition” between presidents. http://civilliberty.about.com/od/historyprofiles/tp/Why-Protest.htm highlights the reasons why protesting is both important, and not a “waste of time”. The five reasons the website lists are:
    1. Protest events increase the visibility of the cause.
    2. Protest events demonstrate power.
    3. Protest events promote a sense of solidarity.
    4. Protest events build activist relationships
    5. Protest events energize participants.

    Finally, I believe that if protesting is done in a non-violent and effective way it does not disrupt the “peaceful transition” between presidents, but actually contributes, by providing a sense of solidarity, and by informing our government about what We The People care about.

  • Tara

    I believe that protest can be part of a peaceful transition. There’s a reason our right to protest is protected by the government, as it allows the people’s voices to be heard. The president is supposed to be representing all of the people in the country. Protests show support or disapproval of issues and help people be part of the political process of our country. In this particular election, protest also allows people to stand up against what they refuse to support. A strong country is a united one, and the mass protests taking place are people standing united, not the opposite. Trump has often issued divisive statements that attack the marginalized in our country. Protests are necessary to stand against injustice and make sure that the government is working for the people.

  • Jack Boomer

    A lot has been accomplished through protests and demonstrations in our nation’s history. The whole Civil Rights Movement was based on marches and stand-ins and same with the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Protests have their benefits for a progressive nation and should not be suppressed. In my opinion though, peaceful protests seem hard to come by nowadays, with multiple demonstrations ending in violence and arrests. I find, however, that the non peaceful protests seem to have the most prevalence in the movement. For example, the Civil Rights Movement gained major coverage nationwide when they started being hosed down by firefighters for their protests. After this shocking video was released is when Lyndon B. Johnson started considering this movement be turned into law. Maybe this will happen again with our current protests.

Author

Chanelle Ignant

Chanelle is the Youth Media Specialist for KQED Learning. She has worked with various Bay Area youth media organizations and is an independent media maker.

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