News & Politics

Democrats Trolled the RNC With Projections on the Trump Hotel

DC artist Robin Bell projected words like "Incompetence" and "Chaos" during RNC speeches

DC artist Robin Bell outside the Trump Hotel. Photograph by Evy Mages

The west side of the Trump Hotel in DC was not on message with the RNC speeches happening nearby Tuesday night: “INCOMPETENCE,” read one message. “REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CHAOS” read another. “IT IS WHAT IT IS,” read a third, quoting President Trump’s deflective statement about the pandemic during an Axios interview.

The projections were the work of Robin Bell, a DC artist who’s become well known for his light-based demonstrations against the Trump administration: memorials to Covid-19 victims in Adams Morgan; the message “BRETT KAVANAUGH IS A SEXUAL PREDATOR” on the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings; and, perhaps most memorably, the word “SHITHOLE” projected on the Trump Hotel in 2018.

These projections included three additional messages: “ENJOY THE CONVENTION”; “PAID FOR BY THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE”; and “AUTHORIZED BY BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT.”

Photograph by Andrew Beaujon

We’ve been basically running a lot of counterprogramming” during the RNC, which “does not reflect the realities that a lot of Americans are living through,” DNC War Room spokesperson Lily Adams tells Washingtonian. That means messages about the pandemic and its economic costs, as well as the national reckoning over race, in addition to video briefings from politicians including Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, and Nancy Pelosi.

Photograph by Evy Mages

Last night’s projections were augmented by a “mobile billboard” truck that featured images of Trump over messages about the number of small businesses that have closed because of the pandemic and his “economic chaos.” The DNC is running digital ads and “virtual Covid-safe events” in battleground states. Asked whether the DNC had plans for similar local demonstrations during the rest of the RNC, which is effectively being held in DC this week, Adams advised Washingtonian to stay tuned.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.