Philly Mike Pence Protest


Philly, February 4, 2017. Photo by Kyle Moore

Vice President Mike Pence returned back to Philadelphia on Saturday, February 4, 2017, and was greeted by between 2,000 and 3,000 demonstrators. Nearly 5,000 people protested the Republican Retreat in Philly only a week earlier on January 26. Both protests exceeded the usual amount of people at Philly rallies prior to November 8, 2016, due to the entrance of a large amount liberal Hillary supporters post-election.


Thomas Paine Plaza filled with sign waving people, February 4. Photo by KM


Philly protest against Pence, February 4, 2017. Photo by KM

Mike Pence gave a speech near Independence Mall at Congress Hall to the Federalist Society, a conservative group on February 4.  At 11 A.M. several hundred of us gathered a block from Independence Mall, carrying a wide variety of homemade signs.  We stood on the sidewalk until a few Black Bloc individuals encouraged everyone to stand in the street, which the police did not mind.  We chanted in the street and began marching in what turned out to be us marching for miles around the perimeter of Congress Hall, which was heavily guarded. Someone brought police caution-tape, but the logo on the tape read “Fuck Off,” and the tape was stretched out for over a block with people incidentally forming a human chain connected by their rage and hope for a better world. This tape originally appeared at the Republican Retreat protest a week earlier, and Philly activists engaged in recent activities continually appear with the “Fuck Off” tape.


Philly, February 4.

After marching around Congress Hall, we passed by Independence Mall and marched to Thomas Paine Plaza (across the street from City Hall), where we met with a protest of more than 3,000 people for a Ban the Wall and No Ban rally.  Speeches were made at Thomas Paine Plaza, until thousands of people poured into the streets, filled up the roads for blocks.  I was in the back of the march on 13th street and was on the phone with my friend who was closer to the front of the march on 9th street, and the march most likely stretched longer than that. The march, of course, went back to Independence Mall near 6th Street to protest Pence.  If Pence looked down he would have seen about 3,000 people, with a crazy high ratio of well done homemade signs, chanting: “Fuck Mike Pence.”  “Fuck” seems to be a common thread throughout Philly protests – all the way from Fuck the system to ‘we are Fucked unless we do something.’ listed other chants that day, which have now become standard hymns for seasoned activists: “This is what Democracy looks like” and “No Pence, No Fear.”


Philly, February 4.

Philly newspapers have been loving the massive protests in the city, covering everything in the last few weeks. The Pence protests were covered by Philly Voice, titled “Pence visits Philly; protesters fill streets;” Fox 29; Penn Live was titled “Protesters again march in Philadelphia against Trump ban; NBC‘s headline was “2,000 March in Center City to Protest Travel Ban;” Politics PA title read, “VP Pence Speaks in Philly amid Protests.”


“Fuck Trump”, Feb. 4.

Common Dreams wrote about the event taking place among the third weekend in a row of Anti-Trump protests since the inauguration, with protests happening that same day against Trump outside his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.


Trump Clown, Feb. 4.


Trump’s Retreat in Philly


Thomas Paine Plaza, January 26, 2017, with City Hall in the background. Photo by Kyle Moore

The first major protest following the Women’s March on Washington took place on January 26, just five days after the historic national protests. Trump and the GOP held the Republican Retreat in Philadelphia. You might know it as the liberal city that has a Bernie Sanders mural on a building, or as the city Donald Trump lost in the general election. Also only the day before the retreat, Trump directly called out Philly and said they would not receive federal funds if they remain a sanctuary city. Democrat Mayor Jim Kenny said the city would not bend to Trump’s will.


Thousands march around Philly City Hall, January 26, 2017. Photo from


Thomas Paine Plaza, January 26. Photo by Kyle Moore


January 26 Philly March. Photo by Kyle Moore


Thousands march around Philly City Hall, January 26. Photo from

Trump arrived in Philly on Thursday, January 26, 2017, only six days after his inauguration. As pointed out, Trump was greeted by a “throng of protesters who took to the streets for the third day of massive protests since Trump’s inauguration six days ago.” Protests erupted the day before in Philly against the arriving Congressional GOP members. On Wednesday night at least a thousand people came out to the Queer Rage Dance hosted in the streets of Philly. But the massive crowd of 5,000 people didn’t happen until Trump arrived on Thursday. summed up the new era feeling around the rally that night with the title: “In Trump’s America, mass protests become the New Normal.” One could call this the Trump Bump for mass protests.


January 26 Philly March. Photo by Kyle Moore


January 26 Philly March. Photo by Kyle Moore

There were two major protests on Thursday: one in the morning and the other at night.  The larger protest began at Thomas Paine Plaza, directly across the street from City Hall, around 11 AM, where thousands of people carried diverse homemade signs resisting Trump in some fashion. “This is Not Normal” was one sign that caught the interest of Homemade signs were carried over from the Women’s March less than a week earlier, and new signs were made because of Trump’s ability to embarrass himself on a daily basis. And liberal Democrats still gleefully wore their Pink hats that first appeared at the Women’s March.


Thomas Paine Plaza, January 26. Photo by Kyle Moore


January 26. Photo by Kyle Moore

The march launched from Thomas Paine Plaza and walked around City Hall, but it took about 20 minutes before the Plaza was emptied.  Trump and the GOP stayed at the Loews Hotel, only a few blocks away from City Hall, but dump trucks blocked every street around the hotel for a two-block radius.  1199 SEIU-NJ posted pictures of people performing a die-in near one of the dump trucks by City Hall. The march ended with speeches outside the BNY Mellon Center, outside Pat Toomey’s office, which had a DPC orange-colored (ironic right?) truck parked outside, rather than the dump trucks around the rest of the city.


BNY Mellon Center, January 26. Photo by Kyle Moore


BNY Mellon Center, January 26. Orange DPC in front of the building. Photo by Kyle Moore

I estimated about 5,000 people marched that day, which showed that the Women’s March on Washington wasn’t just a fluke. Instead, the Retreat in Philly proved that in the Age of Trump we will see the rise of a protest culture. Only five days earlier roughly 50,000 people marched in Philly during the Women’s March on Washington. Prior to both of these massive protests, however, Philly rarely had such big protests. Only about 15,000 came out for the DNC, which was a national protest in a sense. But in my years of activism the last time I saw 5,000 people protest in the city was for Reclaim MLK Day back in January 2015, when a wide coalition of liberals and progressives marched in support of King. But the Retreat protest managed to get 5,000 people in the streets with only a week notice ahead of time, although it did rely on the same formula of grouping liberals and progressives together. But the fact that two of the largest Philly protests in recent history took place only five days apart shows the true significance of mass protests in the year 2017.


Thousands marched near City Hall on January 26. Photo by

A second protest began several hours later that night with a march launching from Rittenhouse Square. Philly Voice reported in the headline: “Philly protests endure into night of Trump’s visit at GOP retreat.” As CBS Philly pointed out there was a heavy police presence throughout the day, but especially at the night rally put together by BLM and ally groups. Less than a thousand people marched in the streets in all directions that night, led by more than a dozen trained drummers and other musicians, who followed the lead of a music teacher who was able to get everyone to stop playing their instruments at the same time by blowing a whistle.  Each time the music went silent one could hear the crowd chant “This is what Democracy looks like!” (Video of this can be seen on Facebook Live here and here.)  By 9:00 P.M., nearly 12 hours after the first protest that morning, the final hundred people performed a brief teach-in outside a hotel.

The protests ended on Friday, January 27, when several dozen demonstrators protested the GOP members going back to D.C. at 30th Street Station in Philly.‘s headline reported that day: “Protesters aim to target GOP lawmakers as they leave Philly.” But the GOP members didn’t arrive for their scheduled train rides out of fear of protesters, making the week of protests highly successful. happily wrote about this news: “When protestors arrived at 30th Street Station late this morning, to greet the visiting GOP one last time for the week with messages of dissent and resistance to an increasingly aberrant, toxic presidency, they soon realized: None from the party had the courage to enter the station, and take the train that had been chartered on the GOP’s behalf.”



Philly #NoDAPL Rally


Philly, February 14, 2017. Photo by Kyle Moore

The battle at Standing Rock started all over again when Trump signed the executive order his first week in office on January 24, 2017,to renew construction on the Dakota Pipeline. Along with many other major cities, protests in support of the water protectors began in Philly in August 2016. I took part in meetings in September that organized the Bank sit-ins, joined numerous mass marches, and I even carried the massive “Water is Life” banner in Philly on November 7, when Clinton and Obama hosted a concert with Bruce Springsteen. But in 2016 both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump failed to utilize the momentum of the growing cause at Standing Rock, while both of them refused to speak on the issue, unlike Bernie Sanders, who I saw speak on the issue with a crowd of a thousand people in D.C. in September.


Philly, February 14, 2017. Photo by Kyle Moore

So it was nothing new going to a NoDAPL rally in Philly on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2017, other than instead of having a Democratic Liberal as a President, we had Trump, who doesn’t even pretend to care about the interest of the people. As an example, immediately after Trump signed the executive order he was asked by a reporter if he had any comment about the Standing Rock protesters and supporters. His response summed up everything about him as summed up by CNBC: “Trump put his head down, pursed his lips and looked in the opposite direction. He then responded to a question about when he expected to make a Supreme Court nomination.”


February 14. Photo by KM

On February 1, one day after federal officials suggested that the government might soon approve the last step of the pipeline, 76 water protectors were arrested, including friends of mine who’ve remained at the camp since November, after trying to establish a new camp site near the pipeline. On February 8, the Army Corps of Engineers granted the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to complete construction.


Veterans for Peace at Philly NoDAPL. Photo by KM


Philly Granny Peace Brigade. KM

The hundred people who showed up on Valentines Day at Thomas Paine Plaza, across the street from City Hall, knew that the Army Corps planned on removing people from the campsite by February 22.  Leaders at Standing Rock called for supportive actions across the nation as well as asking people to stand and fight with them in North Dakota. Veterans have returned to Standing Rock in the prior two weeks.  News Mic painted an accurate picture on Valentines Day with the headline: “Standing Rock prepares for what could be its last stand against the Dakota Access pipeline.”


February 14, 2017

“Emergency Rally for Standing Rock” was the name of the event organized by Philly with Standing Rock-Sioux Defenders. At 8:00 A.M. people gathered at Thomas Paine Plaza and waved banners and signs at the city traffic. An hour later we heard speeches by some people who were on the front line at Standing Rock. Shortly thereafter we proceeded to march in the streets and protested outside of four different Wells Fargo banks.We protested Wells Fargo not just because it is one of the banks funding the pipeline, but because Seattle City Council successfully removed Wells Fargo funding from the pipeline in its city only a few weeks earlier. Each time we stopped at one of the Wells Fargo banks to speak, Philly police lined up their bikes in front of the door to prevent activists from going inside, although customers were allowed to go in and out. Along the march route, however, we passed by several other banks, such as Citizens Bank and Santander Bank, and police even blocked those entrances. For such a small group of people we were able to successfully shut down nearly eight banks for a few minutes each.


Philly, February 14. Photo by Kyle Moore

(To see Facebook Live videos of the Philly rally click here for video 1 and here for video 2)


One of the four Wells Fargo Banks protested in Philly, February 14. Photo by KM

As the final week approaches for those at Standing Rock, we must wait and see if protests erupt across the nation in support of the water protectors. Perhaps we will see the revival of bank sit-ins. Perhaps politicians can join the fight as well, as the ACLU wrote in its headline on Valentines Day: “It’s Time for Members of Congress to Show Up and Stand Up for Standing Rock.”


Philly, February 14. KM


How Big was the Women’s March on Washington?

The age of mass protest reignited with the launching of the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017, when millions of people in over 75 countries and on every continent marched in opposition to The Donald. As an historian who has studied every American mass protest from the Vietnam war in the 1960s and 1970s to the anti-nuclear movement in the early 1980s, what I found to be most shocking was the fact that this may have been the largest national or international protest to ever take place in modern history, and even more amazingly it was not aimed at a horrible war, but against a single U.S. President within 24 hours of taking office. That means more people felt the need to march in the streets against Donald Trump in 2017 than did the millions of people who protested the Vietnam War more than four decades ago. This was the largest national day of protests in U.S. history by comparing it to previous American movements. The Women’s March on Washington, however, did not hold the largest rally in a single place, but instead had the largest amount of people protesting at the same time across the nation and world. This is the emergence of a mass movement, which first peaked its head at Occupy Wall Street and became whole with the ouster of Barack Obama and the emergence of Trumpland. This mass movement is built on a new coalition of Hillary voters, Bernie voters and Independents, which gives it power but naturally produces conflicts.

The Vietnam War brought about massive national days of protest in which millions of people across the country protested in their respective cities. The first sight of this was on October 15, 1969, when millions protested nationwide in the first Vietnam Moratorium.  Fred Halstead wrote in his 843-page book, Out Now: A Participant’s Account of the Movement in the U.S. Against the Vietnam War, that this marked the first time it reached a “full-fledged mass movement.” The Women’s March in 2017 brought out more people into the streets, beating out this first record-breaking rally.  However the two events have a lot in common.  The Vietnam Moratorium emerged from a new coalition that developed in 1969, which included a large base of liberal Democrats (including certain politicians) merging with activists and others previously engaged in the movement.  This was similar to the Women’s March on Washington, which saw the emerging coalition of Hillary Clinton supporters with seasoned activists and others to the left of liberal Democrats.

Both actions brought about an unprecedented amount of people hitting the streets in most cities.  Halstead reported that an astonishing 20,000 protested in Philly; 100,000 in Boston; 50,000 in D.C. from local area only; 25,000 in Ann Arbor, Michigan; 25,000 in Madison, Wisconsin; 20,000 in Minneapolis; 20,000 in Detroit; 11,000 in Austin, Texas; while more than 100,000 protested in New York City.

The Women’s March on Washington also brought out an unprecedented amount of people in most cities.  In Philly (where I never saw a rally larger than 5,000 people since I began protesting there in 2012, excluding the DNC) on January 21, 2017, more than 50,000 people protested in the city of Brotherly Love. Contrast that to the small number of 15,000 Bernie people who protested the Philly DNC in July 2016, who came from across the nation, and you’ll begin to understand how this is the emergence of a mass movement. In Boston at least 90,000 people protested. The Detroit Metro Times reported that 8,000 people alone from Michigan traveled to D.C. for the big day in what the paper called the “start of a new era of resistance.” What’s also impressive is that multiple cities across the country broke records of crowd size, even though many of the 500,000 people who rallied in D.C. traveled there to join the headline event.

Vox reported that 3.3 million Americans protested in over 500 U.S. cities. In the fall of 2011, Occupy Wall Street set up campsites in more than 1,400 cities, but didn’t have as nearly as many participants as seen on the Women’s March on Washington. Vox also reported more than 100 international marches took place, with an estimate of 267,000 people taking action.

The 500,000 demonstrators in D.C. for the Women’s March was one of the largest D.C. protests, but multiple others beat it out. At least 600,000 marched against the Vietnam War in the second Vietnam Moratorium on November 15, 1969, which was made up of the same wide coalition that organized decentralized protests a month earlier. The single largest Vietnam protest in D.C., however, took place on April 24, 1971, when an estimated 750,000 people protested there. Once again the massive 1971 Washington protest was a wide coalition of liberals and radicals, with the addition of Vietnam veterans returning from the war and joining the antiwar movement. Vox reported that the Million Man March in 1995 gathered an estimated 837,000 people in D.C.

The single largest protest in U.S. history took place in New York City.  On June 12, 1982, a coalition of Democrat politicians, liberals, radicals, and ex-hippies organized the single largest protest of one million people in New York City. This coalition formed in the face of a Reagan Administration expanding nuclear weapons. And Vox reported for the Women’s March that New York City and L.A. surpassed 500,000 people. New York City regularly sees hundreds of thousands protesting, like the estimated 400,000 that marched for climate change in September 2014, or the 400,000 that marched at the NYC RNC in 2004 against the war – both of which also built off wide coalitions. In April 1967 a coalition made up of college students,civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., radical pacifists, liberals, Native Americans and Latinos organized a massive march of 400,000 in NYC to protest the war, which marked the largest protest in the nation up to that time.  However in the radical period between May and August 1963, massive protests emerged for the first time in the 1960s. After the attack on the Children’s March in Birmingham, led by King, massive arrests and protests emerged. Just under 400,000 marched in Detroit when King visited the city on a speaking tour. In August 1963, a wide coalition of newly angered Northern whites, King’s SCLC, radical black youths in SNCC and CORE organized the March on Washington that 250,000 people attended, marking the largest D.C. protest up to that time.

Coalitions of this magnitude are always fragile ideologically, but are united by their passion for a sense of justice. Many clashes between this new coalition for the Women’s March were made visible on January 21, but their international unity also became known.  Coalitions fall apart after years or decades, but their roots always stem toward a new movement somewhere down the line. Conflicts need to be spoken about and resolved because otherwise the anger will explode among our most oppressed groups. These subjects must be brought up by experienced activists or oppressed minorities who have dealt with forms of oppression all their lives in order to educate people new to the activist environment. That education can lead to conflicts in the short-run, but would build the foundation for a well-connected and well-informed coalition. As of now our goal should be to achieve as many victories, stall as many bad deals as possible, and show unity through massive actions for as long as this new coalition exists.


MLK Philly March 2017

More than a thousand people marched in Philly on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 16, 2017, just four days prior to Trump’s inauguration.  Even though organizers emphasized that the march was to honor the great black leader MLK, the rally itself was filled with Black Lives Matter and Anti-Trump chants and home-made signs. This was similar to the large MLK Rally that I attended in January 2015, when between 3,000 and 5,000 people joined the march organized by a new coalition that formed out of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner protests of December 2014. But now in 2017 the shock and anger at Trump’s victory became a new focus.


March launches from Independence Hall on January 16, 2017. Photo by Kyle Moore.

The rally in 2017 was organized by the MLK DARE (Day of Action, Resistance and Empowerment), which included church groups like P.O.W.E.R., union groups like Unite Here, and civil rights groups like PA-Black Lives Matter. According to Billy Penn, more than 30 groups sponsored the rally.  The MLK rally took place at the beginning of the week that was filled with protests against Trump’s upcoming inauguration.  Only five days later more than 50,000 people would protest in Philly for the Women’s March on Washington.


Independence Hall January 16. Photo by Kyle Moore

But the eruption of several protesting again in 2017 indicated the massive protests expected to follow Trump’s inauguration. NBC Philly and others reported a week before about the rally with the headline: “Anti ‘Right Wing Extremism’ March in Philly Set for MLK Day.”  Even CBS Philly estimated that thousands attended the rally under the headline: “Thousands March Through Old City To Honor MLK Day.”


March from Independence Hall. January 16. Photo by Kyle Moore


A white ally wearing a shirt that says “Fuck White Power.” Photo by Kyle Moore

People gathered near Independence Hall, where a variety of bright-colored flags waved together in the sub-freezing weather.  We marched for several miles before reaching the rally point at an intersection in front of Mother Bethel A.M.E. church. Most of the speakers talked about their fear of Trump as being our president. A leader for the nurses union spoke about the national day of protests for healthcare the day before, including a rally she led in Philly that garnered several hundred people. Asa of PA-BLM gave one of the most powerful speeches that day, calling for a wide coalition of groups to resist racism and bigotry.


Youth United For Change. Photo by Kyle Moore

The Philadelphia Tribune reported that the organizers of “March for a Better America” (a term that mocked and even critiqued Trump’s deceptive campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”) unveiled what they called a “21st Century Declaration of Rights” which called on “politicians, community leaders, and common citizens to support the basic human rights we cherish, such as affordable housing, health care, and quality public education for all.”


Asa of PA-BLM speaking at the Rally. Photo by Kyle Moore.


Our First Stand: Save Health Care Protests

When Trump won the election one of his first attacks was on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a., Obamacare. At first Bernie Sanders said he was willing to work with Trump to improve upon the ACA by expanding medicaid, medicare, and healthcare. But by December 2016, when Republicans made clear he planned on cutting such programs and would kick more than 20 million people off their health insurance, Bernie called for a national day of protests for January 15, 2017, to save healthcare under “Our First Stand: Save our Health Care.” With language similar to Bernie’s “Our Revolution,” he extended his political power beyond the year 2016.  Democrats jumped on board to the idea like Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker.

Thousands of people and dozens of cities protested on January 15. The headline of read, “Thousands Join Rallies Across the United States to Save Obamacare.”Sanders headlined a rally of more than 10,000 people in Macomb County, Michigan, a previous blue-state which went red and led to Trump’s victory. Hundreds attended a rally at Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well. Democratic politicians spoke at most of the rallies. Democrats spoke to more than 1,500 people in Bowie, Maryland. NJ candidate for Governor this year John Wisniewski hosted a rally in Jersey City, while Cory Booker spoke in Newark, NJ. Cannabis activists under the East Coast Cannabis Coalition held a rally in Trenton, NJ, to emphasize medical marijuana to be added to our health care system  According to the Chicago Tribune protests broke out in San Francisco, Los Angeles; Johnston, Rhode Island; Richmond, Virginia, and Boston. According to the Boston Globe, more than 6,000 people attended the Boston rally, where Elizabeth Warren spoke. Joan Baez, who was arrested in Oakland protesting the Vietnam War back in 1967, joined 2,000 people at San Francisco City Hall 50 years later.

A list on Reddit for Bernie Sanders showed 41 cities holding rallies that Sunday. Other sources claimed more than 50 cities took part. The Huffington Post reported that Sanders said protests took place in more than 70 cities that day.  Elite Daily  showed that hundreds protested in Philadelphia and Hartford, Connecticut.  Protests also took place in Westbury, New York; Milwaukee; Sacramento, CA; Bozeman, Montana; Sioux City, Iowa; Seattle; Burlington, Vermont; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; 600 people protested in Portland, Maine; Tampa, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina . NBC reported dozens of people in Buffalo, New York, and more than a hundred people attended a town hall in Aurora, Colorado. In Denver more than 200 people attended a town hall while another 200 rallied outside. People also protested in front of Trump Towers in New York City. Martin O’Malley led a sing-along at the Utah Capitol Building in Salt Lake City, according to NPR.


First National Day of Protest in 2017


Philadelphia Rally on January 9, 2017. Photo by Kyle Moore.

“From Protest to Resistance” was coined in 1967 as the Vietnam protests took a national stage. (“From Protest to Resistance” was a response by historian Staughton Lynd toward civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Lynd’s title mocked Rustin’s 1965 title “From Protest to Politics” in which Rustin called for people to stop protesting in the streets and start working to build the Democratic Party.)  Fifty years later the term “Resistance” has emerged as the key word for the left, which is espoused by Star Wars fans who adored Rouge One in December 2016, as well as by the Democratic Party politicians who promised to Resist Trump. For activists the Resistance to Trump began with his Cabinet picks prior to his inauguration.

I joined more than 100 demonstrators in Philadelphia on January 9, 2017, for what could possibly have been the first national day of protests for the new year.  The rally was hosted by 350 Philadelphia, Sierra Club and a coalition of local groups, which was called “Tell Our Senators: No Climate Deniers in the Cabinet.”  Demonstrators opposed the appointments of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt for EPA, Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy, and Ryan Zinke for Department of Interior. “Protesters urge Senators to reject Trump nominees to environment posts” was the headline of NPR‘s PA member station, State Impact. It estimated that 200 people protested in the “freezing weather” in Philly, saying the event was part of “a series around the country” on Monday.  The rally began outside the office of PA Democratic Senator Bob Casey and we then marched in the street to the office of Republican Senator Pat Toomey.

The protests expanded beyond Philly, however, and the national day of protests fell under the hashtag #DayAgainstDenial. The website Color Lines reported the Philly protests, as well as the other protests that emerged across the country: Boston; Doral, Florida; Newark, NJ; Denver, CO; NYC; Metairie, Louisiana; Burlington, Vermont; and Louisville, Kentucky. The website Truth-Out reported that 200 people appeared at Senator Susan Collins’ office in Portland, Maine, and was surprised that major cities like San Francisco gathered hundreds of demonstrators in sub-freezing weather across the nation. All of these protests broke out the day before hearings began for Trump’s cabinet picks, which seems to be unprecedented historically.