On Tuesday morning, 11 young activists were arrested in Washington, DC, during a sit-in outside the office of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The activists were part of a larger group that was there protesting Donald Trump’s racism and the Republican Party’s role in supporting it.
The protest organization, known as #AllofUs2016, describes itself as a “millennial-led campaign” that plans to organize through inauguration day to “demand racist Republicans and Wall Street Democrats disown the politics of racism and greed.” Activists told Fusion just before the protest that they would demand that Ryan disavow both Donald Trump and what they describe as the GOP’s “50 years of dog-whistle racism.”
“Donald Trump has turned the Republican Party’s calculated strategy of dog-whistle politics and turned it into a bullhorn,” Yong Jung Cho, one of the group’s founders, told Fusion. “Our generation rejects the hate and greed of Donald Trump and we demand that Paul Ryan publicly reject Donald Trump and disavow the 50 years of dog whistle racism that led to him and we are not going to leave until he does that.”
Members of #AllofUs2016 vowed to stay in front of Ryan’s office and until the Speaker met their demands. Capitol Police arrested and detained activists amid songs, chants and personal narratives about racism in the Trump era.
One of the detained activists, Waleed Shahid, spoke to Fusion just before the protest about why he was participating. “Just yesterday, in the wake of terror, [Trump] called emphatically for racial profiling of Muslims like myself,” Shahid told Fusion. “That’s not the America young people want to live in—an America where people fear each other.”
Darius Gordon, another activist with the group, also cited the racist environment created by Trump as a reason for participating. “This is very personal to me. I’m a 27-year-old, 6’7″ black man. And so I already know my stature alone is very threatening to me,” Gordon said. “I can go on YouTube and look at a Trump rally and see some black kid getting punched by a Trump supporter. This is not the world I want to live in. That shows me that my life is not getting valued as much as others in this country.”
Ryan continues to support Trump’s presidential bid despite his many public disagreements with the Republican candidate. On Monday, Ryan reportedly met with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, in New York, where they discussed the 2016 race. An aide to Ryan described the meeting to CNN as “productive.”