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Trump Inauguration Sparks Walkout at UCI and Protests Elsewhere

Nearly 200 UC Irvine students and faculty members protested and marched across UCI’s campus last Friday, Jan. 20 as Donald J. Trump was inaugurated 45th President of the United States. During the “J20 Walkout,” students — many of whom left class for the march — gathered between the flagpoles and Langson Library. Despite storm conditions, hundreds marched the entirety of Ring Road, through Ayala Science Library and the Social Sciences Plaza.

The walkout was initially planned as a broad movement encompassing a variety of communities.

“This walkout aims to make clear that we are a broad and diverse union committed to social justice that works to unite and center the needs and demands of many communities, including: immigrants, refugees, undocumented folks, workers, Muslims, poor people, indigenous folks, queer and trans folks, Black folks, Chicanx/Latinx folks, Asian and Pacific Islander folks, Jews, women, survivors of sexual violence, labor activists, people with disabilities, public education activists, civil rights activists and many others,” said organizers on the event’s Facebook page. “In these troubling times, we reiterate that an injury to one is an injury to us all.”

Student marchers held signs printed with slogans such as “MLK, Not KKK,” “Our body, our choice,” and “Tax the rich.” Popular chants ranged from light to serious, including, “Tiny hands, tiny heart, we will fight him from the start,” “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,” and “We reject the president-elect.”

UAW Local 2865, the union which represents UC student workers, helped organize the walkout alongside Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano De Aztlan de UCI, (MEChA) faculty members and graduate students.

Carrying a red banner, union members led the march around campus and gathered later around a group of protesters organized at the flagpoles.

“By taking this direct action, the 16,000 members of UAW Local 2865 acknowledge and refuse to allow their labor to contribute to the military research and production that most directly enables the new administration to follow through with its plans to mandate Muslims to register in a national database, deport undocumented migrants, and bring ‘law and order’ to inner cities,” said union representatives in a press statement.  “When Trump discusses these plans, he is talking about utilizing the machinery that is produced as a result of the labor of our members.”

The union also made a list of eleven demands for the UC: “denounce Donald Trump’s government,  restore free education, end state policies that enable racial segregation at all levels of education, designate sanctuary school status to protect undocumented members of our  community, grow — not cut — independent science funding and support increased federal science funding, fully demilitarize UC campuses, fully divest from toxic UC investments, make the UC budget fully transparent, implement survivor-led process for holding people accountable who commit acts of gender-based and sexual violence, commit to providing free and accessible trans and reproductive healthcare, including abortion access, to students and workers and democratize the Regents.”

“We take action against the Trump administration to declare our noncompliance as long as he is in office,” a union representative said.

The day after UCI’s J20 Walkout, Saturday, Jan. 21, hundreds of UCI students in Orange County and Los Angeles joined more than 2.9 million worldwide participants in the Women’s March, an international peaceful protest denouncing Trump’s presidency and showing solidarity with gender equality, reproductive rights, racial justice, climate justice, LGBT rights and immigrant rights.

UCI College Democrats sent a coalition of approximately 20 students to the Orange County Women’s March, “in solidarity with millions of women across the country.” Hundreds of other UCI students marched in Santa Ana, Laguna Beach and Los Angeles.

Estimated attendance of the Laguna Beach Women’s March totaled more than 1,000, while attendance of the Santa Ana march approached 25,000. The Los Angeles march was one of the largest in the world at 750,000 marchers. Over one million people marched in Washington D.C. and over five million marched around the world.

To sustain the political momentum of the Women’s March, national organizers created a new campaign called “10 Actions for the First 100 Days,” intending to get participants tangibly involved in the American political process by petitioning representatives and supporting progressive causes.

“We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all,” said march organizers on their website. “Hear our voice.”