(CHICAGO) As Donald Trump took his seat in the Oval Office on Friday, protesters filled Daley Plaza to protest the start of the Trump administration.
At least 16 people were arrested in the wake of the Friday’s “Resist Rally,” organized by the “Chicago Movement For The 99%,” and other events, according to Chicago Police. That included 10 males and 6 females, with charges ranging from disorderly conduct to aggravated battery, police said early Saturday.
Organizers are expecting some 50,000 to take to the streets Saturday for the Women’s March on Chicago, set to coincide with similar marches in Washington and other cities.
Tensions grew high as the protests went on throughout the night and spread across downtown. About 8:40 p.m., as a group marched south on Michigan Avenue past Millennium Park, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter observed a masked woman spray-painting the phrase “Die Fascist Scum” on a CTA bus stop.
Immediately after the reporter began to record the woman, a man walked up to the reporter, knocked his phone away and punched him in the chest.
As in Washington D.C., the Chicago sky was gray and the air chilly, but the climate was markedly different in the two cities. While Trump partisans likely outnumbered demonstrators in the capital for Friday’s inauguration, in Chicago — a Democratic stronghold where Hillary Clinton received 84 percent of the ballots cast in November — only a lone Trump supporter was to be found.
The tone of the protesters’ signs and speeches, calling for resistance to the incoming president’s agenda on immigration, civil rights and labor, offended Lincoln Park resident Amber Passey, who left work around 3 p.m. looking for someplace to celebrate Trump’s inauguration and passed the plaza.
So Passey ducked into a Walgreen’s and bought poster board and markers to make her own sign and join the demonstration. The message scrawled on her makeshift sign: “Americans respect their president.”
Passey climbed the Picasso statue and held her sign over her head for a few minutes as some the crowd hooted— until a protester sneaked behind her and snatched it away.
“I had to wake up in America for the past eight years with a president I didn’t like, but I respect the hell out of him,” said Passey, 25, as she trudged purposefully back to Walgreens for more substantial poster materials. “These people are the sorest losers I have ever met in my whole life.”
South Sider Diana Dagaz, 29, felt the mood wasn’t so bleak among the anti-Trump crowd. Sporting a cat mask— a reference to Trump’s use of a feline synonym for women’s anatomy— Dagaz carried a small sign emblazoned with pagan “sigils” and the words “Hex Trump” and “Hex Pence.” Dagaz said she did not wish the incoming president ill with her hex, only to weaken his power to do harm.
“I don’t want to use signs that have (the language) of fear tactics on them,” Dagaz said. “That’s what the other side does.”
Madeleine Cooley, 75, had a darker view of the four years to come. A regular participant in demonstrations dating back to the movements for civil rights and against the Vietnam war, Cooley said she had seldom seen the nation more divided than it had been during and since the election. Cooley trekked to Daley Plaza from her home in Downers Grove, and planned to join suburban demonstrations over the weekend.
“I think this is the worst it’s ever been,” Cooley said. “Nixon was a crook and a liar, but this guy (Trump) is just so unpredictable. We don’t know what he’s going to do. I guess we’ll find out now. I’m worried.”
Harry Truman College student Jed Forman, 21, said that the demonstration was one of several he had attended in his far shorter career as an activist. A New Jersey native, Forman said he’d never taken an active interest in politics until Trump’s ascent inspired him to get involved in voter registration and turnout drives this fall.
“Ever since he got elected, I’ve been coming out to protests and things,” Forman said. “I actually want to get involved. I didn’t really do much before. Now, I want to get ready for the mid-term (elections).
“So, I guess (Trump) had a positive effect on me. I won’t deny it. I want to do something to protect my rights and the rights of others.”
— Chicago Sun-Times