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After a chaotic day that saw scattered protests across the nation’s capital over Donald Trump’s swearing-in ceremony, around 200 activists gathered at local church to take a breath — and to make final preparations for the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.
The event, titled “Rising to the Occasion: Pre-March Practice,” served as a reflective gathering space where organizers, protest veterans and newcomers could introduce themselves in what was described as (and was) a calming atmosphere geared “toward love, action and solidarity.”
The meet-up was organized by Kerri Kelly, an activist and yoga teacher. But it was headlined by Marianne Williamson, a best-selling author well known in Hollywood as a spiritual teacher with a cadre of celebrity supporters (she also ran for Congress in 2014, unsuccessfully). Civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, who said she had represented four Trump accusers, also was there, as was Jamia Wilson, activist, writer and speaker.
“If you actually believe that something is wrong — that’s where too many people on the left have made a mistake because we think we are too cool to use a word like ‘morality,’ we are too cool to use words like ‘evil,’ we are too cool to use words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong,'” said Williamson. “And when you have a spiritual base you’re not afraid to say, ‘I will not have this on my watch because this is wrong.'”
All speakers offered rallying cries, but also sought to connect the people in the room at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. (When asked for a show of hands about who had come to the event from out of town, a vast majority of those seated raised their hands.)
“I don’t know if any of you went to the protests today, it is so energizing,” said Bloom. “It is so inspiring. The majority of this country does not like our incoming president, right? The majority of this country is with us. Our country has a majority of good people — good, like-minded people. And when you’re out there among them you’re going to feel a lot better.”
Inside the peaceful church setting, the walls were covered with signs pointing toward phone numbers to call for legal support for #DisruptJ20 protestors along with a number for “calls from jail,” the contact info for a medic and a tips line. Multiple people inside, quietly sitting in chairs, were wearing hats in the style of the “Pussyhat Project.”
And, this crowd was reminded: There are plans to hold a “mass meditation” at the Lower Senate Park at 10 a.m. tomorrow. On the way out of the two-hour gathering, handfuls of various Shepard Fairey poster designs were given out to attendees, for use at Saturday’s big march on the National Mall, a star-studded gathering that includes a large roster of Hollywood names (Patricia Arquette, Debra Messing, America Ferrera and many, many more).
“We are reimagining a new kind of citizenship, a new type of civic engagement that looks creative and destructive and innovative,” said Kelly. “It looks spontaneous, it looks feminine, it includes everyone and it is every moment of the day for the next four years.”
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