The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump and the historic worldwide Women’s Marches that followed signaled a dramatic shift the relationship between the people and the federal government. The executive branch has been illegally occupied, the rights and lives of millions of people have been put in direct danger as a result, and the traditional mechanisms of protection and reform are no longer applicable. The Resistance has entered uncharted waters, and it is making waves.

But just as the white nationalist movement revolutionized their tactics to illegally and illegitimately take control of Congress and the Executive Branch, so too must organizers revolutionize their strategic responses in order to effectively counter them. 

To that end, the Strategic Institute of Intersectional Policy (SIIP) has released Turning Protest into Power: Strategies for Activism in the Times of Trump.  This strategy guide seeks to contribute to the resistance against the authority of Donald Trump and his white nationalist network by offering ways that organizers can transform the momentum gained by the Women’s March into powerful political resistance strategies.  These strategies are attuned to the goals of legally delegitimizing the authority of members of the executive and legislative branches, restoring the legitimacy of these positions, protecting those targeted by the white nationalist authorities until these goals are achieved, and restoring\reinforcing the rights of communities targeted by Donald Trump and his white nationalist network. 

Offensively, the revolution of strategies offered by SIIP include turning protests into the power of assembly, using tactical embargos in place of boycotts and renegotiating relationships with potentially coopted allies. 

Protest to Power also describes reenvisioning protests in light of political power in the following manner:

Protests were developed as a form of political action that used human bodies as resources for acts of political resistance, reform and revolution. Currently, the main goal of protesting is to draw media attention to a particular cause or political stance. This goal eliminates the power of mass assembly as a tool for direct political action….

In order to revolutionize the power of protest, we must remove it from the realm of media strategy and place it at the forefront of our direct actions. Protest organizers and participants must stop using protests as attempts to grab media attention and start using mass assembly to disrupt the political and social processes that enforce and legitimize Trump’s authority. Organizer and participants must be willing to say: There will be no business as usual until our demands are met.

The strategy guide goes on to describe the roles that local, state and private sector embargos on Trump and GOP affiliated contractors and businesses can play in place of traditional boycotts stating:

“In order to revolutionize the power of economic divestment, we must remove it from the realm of the individual and press for a more networked approach. We must revolutionize our call for boycotts into a collective call for businesses, cities and states to place an economic embargo on all economic relationships with Trump, his organizations the organizations related to his public and private co-conspirators. Organizer and participants must be willing to say: Our businesses, cities and states will not do business with illegitimate authority and its supporters.”

The final offensive adjustment offered in Protest to Power is a suggestion to clearly call out the refusal and failure of the Democratic Party and the larger left wing non-profit network to advance, secure, protect or even fight for our rights in the years leading up to the 2016 white nationalist takeover.  SIIP asserts:

“These groups allowed the GOP to illegally take away our voting rights, they allowed the Trump supporting Fraternal Order of Police strip all of our protections from police brutality, they refused to protect Sacred Rock from hoses and mace, they refused to secure livable wages, housing rights and our healthcare. These groups have taken our people, our money, our votes and have produced little more than press kits and fundraising packets. This practice must end immediately….

Allies are Probationary. They must prove they will work to remove and replace the illegitimate government, resecure our lost rights, reinforce these rights to levels that will ensure they cannot be removed again and make sacrifices along with the rest of us to achieve these goals – or they will lose our people, our support and our alliance.”

Defensively, SIIP outlines suggestions for how organizers and activists can defend communities targeted by Donald Trump while we fight to remove him and the members of his network from office. These defensive strategies include revitalizing the concept of the Underground Railroad in service of refugee and  immigrant families; turning organizations, businesses and homes into SafeSpaces for those targeted by the social violence incited by the white nationalist movement; encouraging and training individuals to take the Interference Pledge vowing to intervene in cases of discrimination and social violence; and encouraging the formation and support of Community Emergency Response Teams for Peacekeeping and Medical Crisis Response.

The first defensive strategy presented in Protest to Power is also the most ambitions.  It is a suggestion to form a network of locations that can provide shelter, legal resources, social services and supplies to refugee and immigrant families being targeted for removal by the illegitimate executive and legislative branches and the criminal white nationalist network that supports them.  Describing the need to honor and revitalize the spirit of the Underground Rail Road, SIIP argues that a new Refugee\Immigrant Rail Road, or Ferrocarril (Railway in Spanish) should be constructed. They write:

“Trump is threatening to send armed law enforcement agencies through our communities to violently tear families apart by the millions. These families need safe spaces in order to ensure their rights, lives and families remain intact. Religious organizations, immigrant advocacy groups and community social spaces should be at the forefront of providing spaces and references for communities targeted by Trump’s immigration policies and police.”

Similarly, Protest to Power encourages businesses, organizations, and people to acknowledge the reality of social violence against people of color, the disabled, immigrants, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community, the poor and women in the United States - and do something about it. SIIP is encouraging people to publicly identify their homes, organizations, and businesses as SafeSpaces for individuals in immediate need of protection from social violence. The institute asserts:

“Under the illegitimate white nationalist government, minority communities are and will continue to be exposed to increased hate crimes and social violence. This violence may come from general citizens of the United States, members of hate based organizations or members of law enforcement. Targets of identity based violence need SafeSpaces to run to in case they are being attacked. These spaces may be businesses, organizations, schools, or homes. We are asking people and professionals to publicly designate their homes and workplaces as SafeSpaces where people that are being targeted for social violence can run to for immediate assistance.”

Individuals also play important roles in the active defense of targeted community members. SIIP calls for individuals to pledge to safely interfere in incidents of discrimination and identity based attack writing:

“Under the illegitimate white nationalist government, minority communities are and will continue to be exposed to increased hate crimes and social violence. This violence may come from general citizens of the United States, members of hate based organizations or members of law enforcement. Targets of identity based violence need active interference from individuals that are witness to verbal and physical attacks. We are asking people and professionals to visibly pledge to interfere in the safest and most effective ways possible to stop the attack. We are also asking for medical and self-defense professionals to volunteer expertise and resources to individuals that take the Individual Interference Pledge so that the safety of all parties remains the top priority.”

Legal, medical and self-defense experts are also being asked to volunteer their expertise and resources to the individuals and organizations that participate in any and all of these strategies. All of these efforts combined are geared at protecting the communities targeted by the illegitimate white nationalist authorities while simultaneously fighting to remove them from power and restore the integrity of our federal offices and civil rights.  All of these efforts can and should be mobilized at the grassroots level and networked for national effectiveness.

In the coming weeks, the website will be supplemented with more information on specific issues, tactical how-to’s, updates on reform efforts and strategies for resistance. The current publication of “Turning Protest into Power: Strategies for Activism in the Times of Trump” can be found and downloaded here. Organizers and activists are also encouraged to creatively discuss, use, and support these strategies at the local, state and national levels. 
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