Photo via White House/ Andrea Hanks
Americans upset with the Trump administration are beginning to take matters into their own hands, confronting cabinet members, White House officials, and affiliates in public settings — deriding them with shouts and insults on the street while driving them out of restaurants and movie theaters.
Responding to the separation of migrant children from their parents at America’s southern border, the administration’s support of a baker refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, and Trump’s racially charged nationalism on a whole, protesters have (over the past week alone) publicly shamed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump advisor Stephen Miller, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (a loyal Trump supporter).
On separate occasions last week, both Miller and Nielsen were confronted while eating at Mexican restaurants. Miller and Nielsen have been instrumental in developing and enforcing the Justice Department’s “zero tolerance” border policy that started the ongoing family separation crisis, adding levels of insult with their dining choices. As he was shuffled out of the door by other restaurant patrons, Miller was derided as a “real-life fascist begging money for new cages.” At another Washington D.C. restaurant MXDC, customers shouted “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace!” at Nielsen, forcing her early departure.
Despite some calls from government officials on both sides of the aisle to reconsider the direct action protect tactics, the high-profile disruptions continued on Friday, with Florida AG Bondi shouted out of a movie screening and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asked to leave the premises of Virginia restaurant the Red Hen by its owner.
That particular proprietor says they requested Sanders leave the restaurant after employees complained to management about the press secretary’s support for a court decision guaranteeing the right for private businesses to discriminate against gay people. After leaving without issue, Sanders took a page out of her boss’s book, using the official “@PressSec” Twitter feed to call out the Red Hen.
Sanders’ social media post quickly went viral, bringing new focus to questions about the efficacy and effectiveness of public shaming. While a number of prominent government officials and newspaper op-ed pages have called for the flash mob protests to stop, California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters has made her support for the tactics known, urging a crowd of followers to continue such maneuvers over the weekend, linking the restaurant and movie theater intrusions to the life-altering incarceration of minors at the Mexican border.
"Let's make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere. We've got to get the children connected to their parents," Waters told supporters at a speech on Saturday, according to CNN.
Outside of restaurants, a recent feature from Politico detailed the difficulties that Trump administration employees have had in Washington D.C.’s dating scene, with potential suitors quickly rebuking any advances from Trump cronies on dating apps and at local bars.
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“Thank God I’ve had a girlfriend of three years,” an anonymous former Trump aide told Politico, “because the last person I would want to be is a single Trump supporter dating in D.C. right now.”
As the Trump administration continues to enact racially divisive policies, push past the limits of human decency while feigning ignorance at every turn, it certainly appears that Americans will continue to speak up loudly against injustice — in restaurants, movie theaters, at ballot boxes, and everywhere in between.