In 1967, nearly 100,000 people gathered around the White House to protest the Vietnam War. In 1969, an estimated 500,000 people surrounded the White House and spilled out for blocks in every direction in a moratorium to end that war. Neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon much enjoyed being at the center of mass of a huge number of protesters—and Nixon responded by giving his “Silent Majority” speech, a phrase that Donald Trump repeated on Monday. But one thing that neither man did was to wall themselves off from America and bring into the city an army of unidentified paramilitary forces.
Donald Trump has built his wall. He built it between the people and the people’s house. And on Wednesday, he expanded the perimeter of his wall again as militia without badges, identifications of service, or name tags of any sort steal more square miles of public space from the public and claim it for the Bunker King.
Donald Trump often claims to have done more than any of his predecessors. When it comes to the cause of spreading authoritarianism, no one can seriously doubt the truth of that statement. After stealing Lafayette Square from the people and surrounding the White House with a brand new 8’ high wall, Trump on Wednesday had his nameless, badgeless goons push back the line another half block in all directions.
Trump is not just denying the people their right to petition for grievances at the White House, he has absconded with parks, streets, and private businesses to create his expanded bunker. And he has peopled his bunker with a mercenary force of people who refuse to provide any information on their identity, the source of their authority, or their supervisors.
Lawless unidentified forces are holding the nation’s capital hostage to Donald Trump’s whim with Trump sallying forth surrounded by hundreds of these unnamed forces who feel free to assault and drive away peaceful people in his path. Americans have been pushed away from a public park. Priests have been driven from their church. The Lincoln Memorial has been occupied by an armed and armored company that appears to have no master but Trump.
These people are not the Park Service, they are not regular military, they are not National Guard. So … who are they? Are they guards from the bureau of prisons sent out to treat the public like criminals? Are they private mercenaries courtesy of Betsy DeVos’ family? Are they Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which Trump has seemed to groom for this moment? Are any of them, in any way, trained for dealing with civilians?
What are their standing orders? Under what authority are they operating? How can any of them be held accountable when they are wearing no identification whatsoever? What level of force are they allowed to use against the unarmed public?
This goes beyond “not normal.” Every newspaper, every representative, every senator should be demanding to know by what right Donald Trump believes he can wall off sections of the nation’s capital and fill the city with his own private army. Trump isn’t just going beyond the law—he’s ignoring it completely.
This isn’t a question of security, this is a reverse coup.