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Black Lives Matter Activists Chain Themselves Together to Block Inauguration Checkpoint

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Protests are taking across the country today. We go live to an inauguration checkpoint where Black Lives Matter protesters are locked down and trying to block off the entrance to the inauguration.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. It’s “War, Peace and the Presidency.” We’re broadcasting live from the historically black university Howard University in Washington, D.C., just down the road from the inauguration. I’m Amy Goodman.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And I’m Nermeen Shaikh. Welcome to our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world.

In less than four hours, Donald Trump will become the nation’s 45th president. At noon today, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will swear in Trump before hundreds of thousands of people, both supporters and protesters. Trump briefly spoke Thursday at the inauguration concert.

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: So this journey began 18 months ago. I had something to do with it, but you had much more to do with it than I did. I’m the messenger. I’m just a messenger. And we were tired—and I love you. Believe me, I love you. We all got tired of seeing what was happening, and we wanted change. But we wanted real change. And I look so forward to tomorrow. We’re going to see something that is going to be so amazing.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: More than 60 Democratic congressmembers are boycotting today’s ceremony. The boycott began after Trump criticized civil rights icon John Lewis after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Trump called Congressmember Lewis “All talk, talk, talk.” Lewis had said he did not believe Trump was a legitimate president. Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes, but he managed to win the Electoral College. Trump takes office as the least popular incoming president in at least a generation. One poll found just 32 percent of the nation approved of his performance as president-elect.

AMY GOODMAN: Protests are scheduled across the country today as well as Saturday, have already begun here in Washington. We’re going go live now to an inauguration checkpoint at 300 Indiana, where Black Lives Matter protesters are locked down and trying to block off the entrance to the inauguration. There was just a heated confrontation when Trump supporters came through and tried to step on the protesters, who are chained to the barricades. Joining us for an update is Democracy Now!’s Carla wills, who is going to speak with the protesters.

CARLA WILLS: I’m here at the checkpoint here, one of the inaugural checkpoints, at the 400 block of Indiana Avenue, where several—several hundred Black Lives Matter activists have shut down the checkpoint. I’m standing here with two organizers. And tell me your name and where you’re from and what’s going on here. Describe the scene.

JANAYA KHAN: Sure. My name is Janaya Khan, and I represent the Movement for Black Lives, hailing from Toronto, but in California.

CARLA WILLS: And describe the scene here right now.

JANAYA KHAN: What we’re seeing is people actively voicing their dissent in light of a horrible truth—that is, Donald Trump. He has used racism, bigotry, suggested a Muslim registry. He’s used Islamaphobia. He has used and enacted every system of oppression in order to gain power. And this is 2017. He is an illegitimate president, and we do not respect him as such.

CARLA WILLS: And there are four or five women here who have chained themselves to the barricades. There are several others ahead of us who have also chained themselves. Describe exactly what happened and what that process was. And first give me your name, as well.

DIDI DELGADO: My name is Didi Delgado, and I’m from BLM Cambridge. Yeah, it just—I just want to know, like—just to pose the question: What would make anyone put their bodies on the line? Right? What about today? What about the events leading up to today? What about years leading up to today? What are we holding inside of us to make us put our bodies on the line, to say our black lives matter, to stand up to say to people, “Hey, we’re not saying you don’t matter; we’re saying, hey, look at us, right? See our humanity. We matter”? We shouldn’t have to say that, shouldn’t have to chain ourselves to let people know what our narrative is. You know, our narrative is our humanity. And it’s terrible that we have to do what we’re doing today. But it’s very necessary, because we will be heard, so…

CARLA WILLS: And there was a bit of a scuffle over here on our—to our right with some of the women who had been chained. Someone actually encountered one of them? Explain what happened.

JANAYA KHAN: So, essentially, we have several people who have chained—femme-identified people who have chained their bodies on one of these entry points, and they’re seated. They’re on the ground. And so they’re extremely vulnerable. And what we saw was a mass of Trump supporters try to push through, trample on them, and in doing so, possibly cause injury to themselves. They were so—they were so hell-bent on mobilizing around trampling black bodies.

CARLA WILLS: And what do you want to see happen now? I mean, Trump is going to be sworn in in just a few hours. What’s the next thing to do?

DIDI DELGADO: I think that there are several next things to do. I think that the most important things for people to do is for black people to continue what they’ve been doing, is to continue to survive. I think that if allies are going to come into the fold and try to, you know, stand up for us, that they do so under our leadership—right?—and they do so with the knowledge of intersectionality. And as I just explained, intersectionality is like coming to a stop sign when you’re driving, and looking at both places and looking at all ways and saying, “You know what? I understand where everyone else is coming from. Now I can go ahead and proceed.” So, thank you.

CARLA WILLS: Thank you. Thank you. This is Carla Wills, here at a checkpoint that’s been shut down by Black Lives Matter activists at 300 Indiana Avenue. Amy and Nermeen, back to you in the studio.

AMY GOODMAN: Carla, thanks so much. And to our viewers and listeners around the country and around the world, we’re here at Howard University, just a couple miles from the inauguration site. We will be covering the inauguration live. We’re going to be broadcasting throughout the day. We will also cover protests in Washington, D.C., and around the country. Carla Wills, speaking to us from 300 Indiana, a Black Lives Matter protest. When we come back, we go to another protest. This was last night in New York City just by one of Donald Trump’s hotels. You’ll hear the speech of filmmaker Michael Moore. Stay with us.

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