Friday, July 12, 2019

AFT Teach in Washington DC--We Give President Trump a Lesson

Friday was a pretty full day at AFT Teach. I thought we were going to go to workshops but there was just a little more. That's the AFT crowd in the afternoon at US Customs and Border protection. New AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn de Jesus mostly ran the rally, as President Randi Weingarten was injured.

Evelyn had a prepared speech, which kind of surprised me. She usually speaks off the cuff. But she was very good, not happy at all about the atrocities Donald Trump commits on a daily basis.

I was moved by this group on the right, which had not only bilingual signs, but also a photo of children. The President of the United States is putting children in cages. I'd never have imagined such a thing happening back when I was a little kid studying civics. Of course, they don't teach civics anymore. That might at least partially explain why we have a President who's thoroughly uncivil, a President who behaves like a recalcitrant child, a President who takes credit for everything and responsibility for nothing.

I'm fond of this sign, and how the teacher made it so graphic. I suspect this is from an elementary teacher. They seem to have better eyes than we do. I have awful handwriting, so rather than make my own sign I just photographed everyone else's. We are horrified by this ongoing atrocity, and that's the only sane or reasonable response.

There was a lot of press there, English and Spanish. You can see Evelyn speaking to the press on the right
here. I have no idea what language they were speaking, but this event was planned very well and there were people with cameras and mikes all over the place. I know because I was taking photos right along with them.

Washington Governor and Democratic presidential hopeful Jay Inslee showed up. He spoke very well and displayed precisely the sort of outrage the situation calls for. He bemoaned this shameful episode of our history and told us we were going to make Donald Trump history in 2020.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait.

They can't wait either.

This is later on. In the evening, AFT marched to a park just next to the White House. We had a police escort, and it was incredible. We marched, chanting, "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here." I thought a lot about my students who, along with their families, are living in fear of the xenophobic lunatic boy-man in the White House.

People applauded as we went by. 

 We were walking under a
tunnel, and a reporter photographing us told us they've never let anyone walk through it before, and that the only way she'd ever gone through was in a car.

Above us, we could see people on the bridge applauding us. It was a remarkable moment.

All along the route people had great messages for us and we invited them to join us.

I couldn't get a clear photo of this group, but it's a bunch of people holding letters that say, "UNCAGE KIDS." It was pretty powerful if you saw it, and I'm sorry you can see so little of it.

There was a huge crowd at the candlelight vigil when we finally arrived. We heard from a lot of immigrants. One from Sri Lanka said, "The diversity of this crowd is the beauty of this nation. It is not our weakness. It is our strength." AFT President Randi Weingarten spoke as well. She was injured and in a wheelchair, but said this was too important to miss. From where I was, I couldn't see her at all, so alas, no photo.

What I could see, and what all Americans need to see, is that this is an atrocity. We have a country moving backward into the very bad old days, and we have to use every means within our power to set it right.

2020 is just around the corner.

Meanwhile, AFT has a message for the President, who thinks democracy is him doing what he wants, how he wants, when he wants, to whoever he wants.

Teachers see democracy just a little differently--speaking truth to Trump. 

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