On a bitingly cold Saturday, just over a week ago, the UK really felt United. Hundreds of thousands of us took to the streets to publicly oppose Trump’s presidency, and stand up for those whose rights and freedoms would be diminished because of it. The Women’s March was heard all over the world, in 27 different countries. It was a record-breaking stampede of defiance – and it upset sensitive Trump.
In his first week as President of the United States, he showed exactly why our protests were so important: he signed the global gag rule on US funding for international women’s rights; he took away vital funding for domestic violence survivors; he signalled his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline. He directed the US Department of Homeland Security to begin construction of the Mexican border wall.
And this weekend, things sharpened further still. On Friday Trump blocked refugee admissions to the US (for 120 days, generally and indefinitely for Syrians), and blocked immigration and visa holders from seven mainly Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Sudan from entering the US for 90 days. He also cut the US’s refugee quota in half for this year.
Many UK MPs, from all parties, condemned the moves. US citizens protested immediately, showing up in their thousands at scores of cities; gathering at airports as innocent people were detained. More than one million signed a petition to downgrade Trump’s visit to the UK from an official State Visit, sending a clear message that we do not support him. Meanwhile our prime minister showed a united front with Trump, even bizarrely holding his hand, during her visit to the White House this week. She refused to condemn the discriminatory policies, before weakly opposing them following increased public pressure. We saw very clearly that we need to act where our elected representatives won’t.
The winter has already been long, and it is going to get colder still. But we will withstand it. There are plenty of ways we can act, and even more reasons we should. Here's a few ideas how:
1. Turn up and protest
Tonight more than 10,000 are already expected at 10 Downing Street, where an emergency demo against Trump’s #MuslimBan and the complicity shown by Theresa May has been arranged. The event begins at 6pm, and Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, Ed Miliband and Mhairi Black among others are expected to speak.
In Scotland, there are also protests planned in Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, St Andews and Aberdeen for tonight. If you’re in Wales, join the Cardiff protest, or Aberystwyth or Swansea. In England there are evening protests tonight in Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Cheltenham, Bristol, Brighton, Exeter, Cambridge, Plymouth and Portsmouth.
There’s also an event gathering pace to stage the “biggest ever” UK protest for the day that Trump arrives in the UK in July.
2. Donate to the ACLU
Of course not everyone will be able to turn up to protest, donating could lend real support to those whose human rights and freedoms are impaired under Trump. The American Civil Liberties Union acts as a legal watchdog to defend individual rights afforded by the US Constitution and laws.
They are protectors of the rights of refugees and immigrants, and all US citizens suffering inequality. When Trump signed the executive order, suspending resettlement of refugees and banning entry to the US of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries, it was the ACLU who took legal action to challenge it, prompting a court hearing for their case on Friday night. A judge blocked Trump’s dangerous deportation order, meaning the men and women who would have faced deportation are safe for now.
It is imperative that they are able to continue their work. And Trump hates it.
You can also donate to the Refugee Council to empower and support refugees in the UK.
Stock up on cardboard and paint and swear words. Don your marching shoes. Assemble a gang to protest with. Refuse to have your questions muted, seek out discrepancy, and support those who are already doing it on your behalf
3. Speak up and listen back
This weekend saw the pertinent resurgence of Martin Niemöller’s famous poem on political apathy – the haunting reminder that if some of us are not safe, then none of us are. The statement, which was written in the aftermath of and in remembrance of the Holocaust of World War II, reads:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Over the weekend, protesters have been using the familiar words to encourage solidarity, and as a reminder of what happens when we act for our own means, and not as a whole. “First they came for the Muslims,” signs read on Saturday, “And we said: not today, motherfucker.”
Use the sentiment to support people being subjected to hate, or being treated unfairly, wherever you are, however you see it. Listen to their experience. Arm yourself with facts to back yourself. Speak up on the bus home from work, write to your local MP to lobby them for a tougher stance from Theresa May. Demand fairness and protection.
4. Offer help
If you have a spare room, could you help someone who is stuck in the UK due to the immigration ban? There’s a Facebook group already trying to help those who are stranded. Could you help organise a protest? If you are a social worker, district nurse, doctor, mental health or health professional, could you volunteer as a Home Visitor for Refugees At Home?
5. Stay curious, stay angry – and support journalism
The Women’s March built an incredible momentum. But it was just the beginning. Stock up on cardboard and paint and swear words. Don your marching shoes. Assemble a gang to protest with. Refuse to have your questions muted, seek out discrepancy, and support those who are already doing it on your behalf. Investigative and reliable news journalism has never been so important, or so under threat. Pay for the news you consume, from reliable sources, and refuse to share reports which you suspect to be fake.
Finally, keep going. We're right beside you.