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'Resist' Banners & Livestreams: The Creative Ways People Are Protesting

© Greenpeace

It was 4 a.m., and before the break of Wednesday morning, activists were at work in Washington, DC. As the world woke to another day in Trump’s America, seven Greenpeace protesters scaled a 270-foot crane outside the White House to unveil a 70-foot banner emblazoned with the word “resist.”

As soon they touched the ground 18 hours later, all seven were immediately arrested. But the message remained.

Resist.

The world is less than 150 hours into the presidency of Donald Trump, and protest is rife. Millions marched in hundreds of cities all over the world last weekend, more are protesting at the foot of Trump Tower in New York City, and many more are now taking Trump to task in a multitude of creative ways.

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The Greenpeace activists had, by their own admission, a lot to shout about. From denial of the very real threat posed by climate change to the decision to continue with the Dakota Access Pipeline, the list of controversies rolls on and on. 

The protesters came from a variety of backgrounds, but several, such as Pearl Robinson, 26, had experience as an expert climber.

“We’re here to resist the normalization of this administration,” she said, in a phone interview conducted at the top of the crane. The message was bold, impossible to ignore, and caused significant disruption to DC traffic as police shut down the surrounding area. Meanwhile, the story soared on social media.

According to the Washington Post, the protesters were arrested as they descended from the crane, charged with “second-degree burglary, unlawful entry, and destruction of property.” But as one watch ends, another begins.

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By now, you might have heard of the live stream hosted by contemporary artist and Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf. Launched by Jaden Smith,“He Will Not Divide Us” will run for four years, or until Trump ceases to be President. It encourages normal people to use their voice in communion with those around them to protest the presidency in greater numbers, repeating the words “he will not divide us” over and over.

But, recently, the project has been interrupted by organized internet trolls.

“We must secure the existence of white people,” said one, live on camera. “Hitler did nothing wrong,” exclaimed another. The latter led to an alleged scuffle with LaBeouf, resulting in the actor’s arrest. He has since been released, but, again, the surviving idea is definitively clear.

Resist.

The live stream feels like the whole world summarized in one lens: protest meeting division once more in a public place. Greenpeace and LaBeouf have something in common: both have fleetingly shattered the echo chamber to deliver a striking point.

In the shadow of the White House, the Greenpeace banner has now been removed. Quiet has followed after a series of storms. But in the coming days, months, and years, the art of resistance will continue to reinvent itself in disruptive, essential new forms. Expect noise.