Oxford opposes far right in Bridges Not Walls protest
In response to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the American President today, protests took place across Oxford in solidarity with the Bridges Not Walls movement, a campaign to oppose the rise of the far right both in the UK and abroad.
These protests were part of a wider effort across the country that included banner drops from over thirty bridges, including Westminster Bridge and Millennium Bridge. This was designed by the group to be a gesture of unity and solidarity in the face of Trump’s pre-election pledge to ‘build a wall’ between the USA and Mexico.
Bridges Not Walls say that the protests have overwhelmingly been planned by members of minority groups in solidarity with the American LGBTQ+ and BME, as they expect these people to be most affected by Trump’s policy platform.
Protest organiser, Lily Gilder, described the aim of bringing the Bridges Not Walls protests to Oxford:
“People across Oxford and nationally are coming together to oppose the rise of the far right, and stand up for the values that those kind of politics undermine – transparency, decency, and tolerance. I don’t want to live in a world where these values don’t matter. Or in a world where it’s acceptable to be outwardly racist, homophobic, sexist, or to mock disabled people and get away with it.”
“People across Oxford and nationally are coming together to oppose the rise of the far right, and stand up for the values that those kind of politics undermine”
The Oxford protests centred around Radcliffe Square and were attended by groups from both the university and the local community, including the OUSU LGBTQ+ campaign and the Oxford Green Party.
Accompanying the campaigners was Larry Sanders, brother of Bernie Sanders, who is an outspoken political activist in his own right. The protesters orchestrated a banner drop from the Bridge of Sighs and knocked down a wall constructed from cardboard boxes. Other banners were dropped from smaller bridges around Oxford, decrying fascism and Trump’s presidency.
Many people at the protest said that they thought it was important that people expressed their views through protest.
Avery Curran, an American History student at University College, expressed this view, saying that:
“It’s good to see Oxford being a part of the protests occurring around the world in opposition to Donald Trump. The range of campaigns and participants involved shows an understanding of and solidarity with the huge number of people who will be harmed by his presidency.”
A later protest at Carfax Tower has been planned for 5pm (the time of the inauguration itself) and is organised by Stand Up to Racism. The group have accused Trump of actively scapegoating BME communities and capitalising on Islamophobic feeling in America during his campaign.
In America, large crowds have gathered at Capitol Hill to see Trump be sworn in as US President. There have also been reports of Black Lives Matter protesters chaining themselves to barriers and organising mass protests during the inauguration.