As Donald Trump was taking the oath of office, campaign group Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), in conjunction with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), held a rally at the head of Buchanan Street to protest his inauguration and stand in solidarity with those doing the same in the USA.
According to notices advertising the event, the protest was a response to a presidency believed to legitimise “racism – whether Islamophobia, or anti-semitism, relentless scapegoating of migrants and refugees, the disregard for black lives or shockingly, blatant belief in white supremacy.”
The notices also stressed the effect of Trump’s election on the rise of right-wing populist groups across Europe, naming Marianne Le Pen’s Front National in France, Geert Wilder’s Partij voor de Vrijheid in the Netherlands, Norbert Hofer’s Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs in Austria and “right wing leaders in Poland and Hungary” as entities emboldened by Trump’s victory.
SUTR also stressed the implications for Britain, citing the support for Trump from UKIP and “sections of the Tory party” as another reason to protest the inauguration. The group claimed: “The parallels with the 1930s, while not exact, are too disturbing for comfort.”
The turnout was reasonably large and broadly supportive. Signs bore anti-Trump slogans such as “No To Racism – No To Trump”, “Fight against racism and Islamophobia – defend civil liberties” and “Migrants and refugees welcome here”.
Approximately 10 people spoke at event, covering a diverse range of issues.
Writer and comedian Janey Godley addressed the crowd throughout the event. Ms Godley is best known for being photographed last year on Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf course holding a placard reading “Trump is a cunt” until she was escorted away by a police officer. She often held the event’s microphone, at one point reciting the transcript of Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush, in which he claimed to grab women “by the pussy.”
Another notable speaker was a poet, introduced only as “Roger over here”, who recited an anti-Trump poem satirising the president’s voters with lines such as “I shall vote Trump because I want to defend the constitution even though I can’t actually read it” and “I shall vote Trump because Hillary Clinton is secretly black.”
The rally also featured a call-and-response “alternative inauguration oath”, which ran as follows: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully oppose the racism, sexism and islamophobia of the president of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the rights of the people threatened by this president.”
A tearful New Yorker called Jake spoke of his “tears of love, joy and happiness” at the turnout for “something that’s going on in my country.”
SUTR regular Joshua Brown described his home country as “the pinnacle of capitalism and imperialism in the world” and claimed it is “only number one at hurting people, within its own borders and beyond.”
A well-publicised scandal within the SWP, which involved allegations of endemic rape and the sheltering of a top party official accused of assaulting a young female member, has caused many feminist groups and disillusioned socialists to frequently boycott the party and its events. As such, there was an alternative anti-Trump protest in George Square occurring at the same time and organised by several organisations, including LGBT campaign group Glasgow Free Pride. This event was reportedly well attended, and exhibited a strong feminist slant.