Protests

The Old Post Office has a new tenant — this may make you angry (or not)

I like walking around the city, the noise, hustle and bustle of people going about their lives, the historic buildings and the occasional protests. It speaks to the history of our country and to many DC residents, a fact of life that tends to be forgotten or in some cases, ignored.

This election cycle has certainly been intense, with people on both sides feeling that they too have been ignored. Our choice of candidates is rather unique this year and has inspired anger and distrust on all sides. Last week was the soft opening of the Trump Hotel in the old Post Office building, on Pennsylvania Ave. Along with this opening was a protest hosted by Answer Coalition against the opening of this hotel and of its owner, Donald Trump. Considering the volatile nature of this election cycle and the rhetoric coming from Mr.Trump, I decided to go down and see what the protest was about.

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Anyone who’s lived in the DC area will know that protests can range in size with the more prevalent topics tending to have larger gatherings. I arrived around midday and what surprised me was the size of the group. Now, the protest was scheduled to run all day and given that this was on a weekday, I wasn’t expecting a massive crowd, but at least a good size none the less.

Instead, there were about two dozen protesters, lined up in front of the main entrance, with another couple dozen or so observers, along with a sizable police and media presence. Off to the side, were a small group of pro Trump supporters, mainly keeping quiet while the larger anti-Trump protest were far more vocal. At first glance, I wondered why they were being so quiet. Were they being respectful of the other group, or were they being quiet because there was a chance that the two groups could collide? What I found interesting was the mix of protesters also included some Bernie supporters and people who shared an equal dislike of both major party candidates. While there was a constant supply of observers, most didn’t stay around for more than a few minutes. Perhaps they were on their way back to their jobs from lunch, or going to lunch, but I also saw a fair few that were walking on by, not paying any glance towards the protesters or police presence. This I feel, spoke more loudly than the protesters, about the current state of our election cycle.

The people who kept on walking, not paying attention, were they completely disinterested in the overall affair? Could they have been so frustrated with the overall situation that they didn’t want to get involved? Or, is it possible that they, like so many of Americans, have decided to tune out the protests because they feel that nothing will come from it?

All images © 2016 Mark Schneider.

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Based in the Washington DC area, Mark has been a photographer for 20 years. He specializes in landscape, infrared and street photography. His work can be found on Instagram at @markschneiderphoto and Facebook.