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Oshkosh, WI protest marks one year of Trump

By staff |
January 23, 2018
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Oshkosh, WI protest one one year anniversary of Trump taking power.
Oshkosh, WI protest one one year anniversary of Trump taking power. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Oshkosh, WI - 40 people gathered to protest the Trump regime in downtown Oshkosh, Jan. 20, to mark one year since his inauguration. Protesters hailed from a variety of groups: a community group called United Action Oshkosh (UAO), others from a local weekly rally group, a few from University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and some unaffiliated with any groups. The demonstration itself was co-organized by SDS and UAO.

Protesters massed around the Sun Dial and along Main Street, with signs reading "Students against Trump," "No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all," "Books not bombs” and" "No one is illegal.”

Throughout the entire event, protesters chanted anti-Trump, anti-racist and pro-peace slogans with enthusiasm, receiving many appreciative honks and waves from passersby.

Ryan Hamann, a leader from SDS, began the protest, stating, "Trump may be a disgusting, repugnant human being, but he is not the cause of the problems faced by the working class and other oppressed people in this country and around the world. These problems can be traced back to the founding of the United States, where it was built upon genocide, slavery, patriarchy and class oppression. Every leader - president or congressperson - has participated in the maintenance, expansion and evolution of the system, specifically designed to keep the owning class on top at the expense of the working class."

Matt Banta, a member of UAO, spoke next and commented on the trials of the J20 defendants who were arrested during the first round of protests in Washington, D.C., one year ago. His speech stressed the need for progressives in Oshkosh and across the country to show solidarity with those still facing criminal charges and urged resistance to Trump's reactionary agenda.

Alvin Jarvenpaa, Jr., a metalworker and a part of UAO, commented on the ties between Oshkosh Corporation - a major employer in the city and area - and the U.S. war machine and how it impacts the community, stating, “Oshkosh Corporation had an operating budget in 2016 of $364 million. The city of Oshkosh had a budget of $78 million. Oshkosh Corporation spent five times the city of Oshkosh did to build military equipment. Imagine if we took the money we spend on the military and spend it on something like improving the roads, improving all the communications in the city. We can have internet for everybody. We could house every single person in this city, if we would just take that money and spend it on us. It's our money. It's our taxes. Every single one of us pay for the stuff that Oshkosh Corporation builds. And what do we have to show for it? Nothing."

Lindsey Spietz of UAO spoke next on the culture of sexual violence in the U.S. and how Trump is a representation of all of it in the highest seat of power in government. She took her analysis a step further, saying, "The truth is sexual assault has nothing to do with sex, morality, clothes, or a victim's actions. Sexual assault is the violent assertion and dominance of power over another human being. It is done to humiliate and torture people, to objectify victims into something less than human. By realizing this, we see that the current system in place perpetuates rape culture and unequal power; a society which sustains and reproduces these conditions."

Spietz continued, "We, as a collective, united voice, must speak out against those who continue to prey upon others. No matter if they are a family member, a friend, a teacher, or the president of this country. Together, we must demand change. In the era of #MeToo, we too can fight back."

Another leader from SDS, Dan Pratt, took the megaphone next and laid into Trump. "Trump was born and raised in a family that lived off of other people's labor. That's the only life he knows. Donald Trump has lived his entire life riding the shoulders of people who work harder than him. He only understands how to exploit people for his own gain, for his own profit."

The next speaker, Patrick Harrington, a prison solidarity activist, spoke on a developing prison strike down in Florida and the need for people to support their struggle for better treatment and an end to the exploitative labor practices of the for-profit prison system in the U.S.

Taking the event to its conclusion was Zach Herriges, a freshman SDS leader, with a fiery speech in which he condemned Trump as a fraud. He pushed his attack forward, taking aim at a deeper target. "What we want is not a different president who will take [Trump's] place and do the same things; what we want is fundamental change to this system. It's not gonna come from an election every four years; it's gonna come from the masses of people who organize and struggle to bring change, and that's what we're doing today! Agitate, educate, organize! Together we can make this world a better place. Down with the Trump regime! Down with this system! And down with the empire!"