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Huge Crowds Expected At Inauguration Day Protests Downtown

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 20, 2017 7:10PM

Photo: Tyler LaRiviere

Donald Trump officially became the 45th president of the United States this afternoon. His inauguration was met with massive protests in Washington D.C., and Chicago will very likely see its own similar waves of demonstration in the afternoon and evening.

Two major actions are planned for later on Friday: one at Daley Plaza, set to beign around 3 p.m.; and another at Trump Tower, scheduled for around 5 p.m.

These large-scale actions are always fluid, of course. Times aren’t exact, and the first protest will likely feed into the second. However it unfolds, it will likely be the biggest collective action in the streets of Chicago since Nov. 9, when thousands flooded downtown in the wake of President Donald Trump’s victory. As of early Friday afternoon, we’ve already seen large-scale student walkouts, most of which will feed into the Daley Plaza.

While social-media registration is no exact barometer, it does offer a indication of an event’s magnitude—and both so far are quite large. The earlier protest, at Daley Plaza, has nearly 2.5 thousand RSVPs, with another nearly 8,000 listed as interested in attending. Those figures jump up to nearly 10,000 RSVP’ed for the evening demonstration, with another (whopping) 24,000 interested.

One of the organizers for the Trump Tower protest, Alec James, stressed on Thursday that the demonstration be peaceful. “[T]his is strictly a peaceful and nonviolent event,” he wrote on the event page. “Nonviolent demonstration is the key to internal change, with the most successful demonstrations from the civil rights movement onward being overwhelmingly nonviolent. Reach for empathy to close gaps rather than reaching for conflict to widen them.”

Like organizers of this Saturday’s Women’s March on Chicago, Jones also emphasized the importance of the work on the day after. “Tomorrow, we push the boulder over the hill and it will continue to roll indefinitely,” he wrote. “When this event is over, we will not go home fulfilled.”

A Chicago Police Department spokesperson told Chicagoist by email that patrols will be assigned to the area, but did not elaborate about deployment specifics, although access to the Tower itself is usually restricted during such actions. CPD wrote:

"CPD is aware of the planned demonstrations scheduled to take place on Friday, January 20. We will have officers assigned to the area and are prepared to handle any situation that arises. Safety is our top priority, and we encourage anyone who sees anything unusual to report it to CPD. We do not have an estimation of crowd population and cannot release any specific organizational information."

Even larger crowds are expected for the Women's March, which happens downtown Saturday morning, beginning at Jackson and Columbus. Organizers expect as many as 50,000 people to attend the march and rally.

If you plan on attending any of this weekend's actions, be sure to check out our guide for preparation and safety.