WASHINGTON—Protest organizers seeking to disrupt President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration want to “instill terror in” law enforcement for “violating people’s rights.”
The DisruptJ20 protest coalition hosted a breakout meeting for the organization known as Cop Watch, a group that trains protesters to observe and record law enforcement activity for the purpose of accusing officers of police brutality.
“So we don’t want to cultivate a relationship between us and the police where they respect our rights. We want to instill terror in the police of violating people’s rights. And the best way to make this happen is to allow them to violate our rights and then to hit them back with legal consequences and publicity so that bad things happen to them when they do that,” a trainer from Cop Watch told meeting attendees.
The trainer later explained, “From our perspective there’s not a lot of point to have the police come around and start to respect our communities and change the way that they operate because the entire structure of policing is designed to brutalize and segregate and oppress.”
Organizers from Cop Watch also made it clear a priority of theirs is to obscure the identities of protesters, while looking for strategies to provoke police into physical confrontations with demonstrators.
“One possible outcome of doing this type of work is you get a personal reputation of being somebody who the police can’t mess with that they stop messing with you and they target other people when you’re not around. A much better possible outcome is to allow them to do the type of illegal brutal practices that they always do. But make sure they do it to you while you’re recording,” the trainer said.
Protest video from Bush’s inaugurations still exists online today and show how intense clashes between law enforcement and protesters got in 2001 and again in 2005. Police used pepper spray on protesters, while demonstrators scaled barriers and attempted to knock down perimeter gates.
Security officials told The Washington Post that 63 demonstration groups for and against the administration are expected on Jan. 20, and 36 will appear on other days. These groups include those with permits and those who pledged participation via social media.
Explaining the logic of deleting video without “deleting evidence” or tampering with evidence, the trainer remarked “If you routinely have a policy of deleting video you weren’t planning to share, that’s not illegal. So our policy as a group is that we routinely every few days delete all video we do not intend to use for publicity or for a particularly billed purpose.”
He added, “The helpful benefit this has is if we were to receive subpoenas or any kind of stuff like that, we will not have the footage the police are requesting and we will be unable to cooperate with their investigation.”
Inauguration protests are expected to begin Wednesday night outside the Chevy Chase, Maryland, home of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.