When the Trump International Hotel opened to the public Monday, activists and locals gathered to denounce the Republican presidential nominee’s reuse of a famous downtown building. But the turnout could be described as modest at best and feeble at worst, with about two dozen protesters occupying the sidewalk outside the old Post Office Building.
As the morning wore on, several protesters slipped away to attend a nearby Moral Monday rally. This left the headcount closer to 10. The protesters held signs bearing indignant statements such as “Trump is a Racist” and “Stop Hatred Against Immigrants.” They also chanted rhyming slogans such as “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go” and “No Trump, no KKK, no racist U.S.A.”
The glossy golden sign reading “Trump International Hotel” hovered just above the protesters’ heads—an ostentatious symbol of all that they stood against. Heavy traffic coursed by on Pennsylvania Avenue, sometimes honking but rarely stopping.
One protester decided to don an oversized Trump head and a onesie printed with dollar bills. To complete the look, she carried two canvas sacks printed with “$$” in what looked like green Sharpie.
A goal of the protest was to attract the attention of the people inside the hotel. As one protester put it, “We need to let them hear us inside.”
But no one emerged from the three polished wooden doors behind the protesters. The hotel staff gave no indication of whether they heard muted cries of “No Trump Zone!”
Even the police on the scene looked a bit bored. An NPR producer tweeted a photo of two officers on a nearby bench checking their phones, while their two partners look on with barely disguised indifference:
— BrakktonBookerNPR (@brakktonbooker) September 12, 2016
Many protesters belonged to the protest umbrella group Answer Coalition or Code Pink. Radhika Miller, an organizer with the Answer Coalition, said the group especially takes issue with the hotel’s location.
“A lot of people are really pissed off about this because this is Pennsylvania Avenue in DC,” Miller said. “This is the inauguration route. For someone like Trump to be able to privatize it is disgusting.”
A couple of American University students could also be picked out of the crowd. Two AU juniors, Emma Claire Martin and Lauren Korczakowski, said they came to show their campus’ solidarity with the protesters.
“I think it would be a waste of going to college in DC if you don’t come out and be politically active and attend events,” Martin said. “It’s important to use your voice and protest what’s going on and show that we don’t believe in what [Trump] wants for this country.”
The protest also drew a few locals unaffiliated with any organizations. Leah Brown said she grew up in DC and attended the protest out of her conviction that Trump’s hateful rhetoric has no place in her city.
“I grew up in this city when I was in a tiny minority and that’s what felt right about this city,” Brown said. “It’s turned into a city for rich white people, and that repels me. It’s just wrong on every level….I love this city, but I hate what’s happening to it.”