As Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn into office, two demonstrations were held on inauguration day, on First and Spring streets: one to celebrate and another to hold the administration to its promises.
Roofers Union Local 36 started its demonstration at noon, holding signs that read “Build the people’s democratic workers party” and “Working class solidarity.”
Roofers Union Local 36 Business Manager Cliff Smith said the demonstration was held “to credit all of the working people that pulled through the last four years and make sure we defeated Donald Trump and his administration of white supremacy and fascism.
“Secondly, to say the job is not done. We need a political party that represents the interest of working people.”
Smith, who organized the demonstration, said the union’s goal is to “expand democracy and workers’ rights” and the organization demonstrated to “express our view and to celebrate the accomplishment (Biden’s win), but to also speak on the struggles and campaigns that we need to continue to organize around and build workers’ power.”
Smith said the Roofers Union Local 36 works to protect and advocate for workers’ rights, encourage more social and community-oriented justice and reform.
“We want citizenship and legislation for all workers, regardless of their background,” he said. “They promised that 11 million undocumented workers in this country would receive legal status and a pathway to citizenship. We intend to make sure that promise is kept.”
“We want community control over the police department. These are public employees, and they need to be held accountable for their actions in our communities. We want the reestablishment of the voting rights acts and the discrimination against African American voters to end.”
As for building a party that has workers and union interest at heart, Smith said, “At the end of the day, as Nancy Pelosi told us, the Democratic Party is capitalist. We are not capitalists, we are workers. We need a political party that represents our interests as workers.
“Biden has campaigned on being the most union-friendly president. (Biden) said he would expand membership in unions, and we will hold him responsible for that. We want him to pass the Pro Act, (Protecting the Right to Organize Act), which is in Congress right now. That would be very advantageous for union organizing.”
Roofers Union Local 36 plans to ensure the workers’ agenda is the top priority of the new administration and to organize a workers’ party.”
Hector Drouaillet, who has worked with Roofers Union Local 36 for 20 years as a roofer and seven years within management, said, “When Trump was inaugurated, we felt a big threat for the unions. … (Now,) we’re celebrating the incoming president, Biden and Harris, which is the main reason we are here. Hopefully, they work with the unions, and the main thing is to protect the rights of our members. We have to stick together and stay strong.”
Founded in Venice Beach, The Hoop Bus is a colorful, graffiti-decorated school bus that arrived at 1 p.m. It is adorned with phrases like “Power 2 The People,” “Hoop Don’t Loot,” a basketball hoop decorated with “Black Lives Matter” graffiti and the names of Black Americans, whose lives were lost to police brutality, like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Eric Garner.
Co-founder Vince Corral said, “We are driving around celebrating the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We have been driving all over LA.”
The bus drove from Venice to Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood.
The Hoop Bus’ goal was to “bring light and enjoyment to the community,” Corral said. “This bus has a certain energy to it, and it always brings smiles and people together.”
The police soon formed a line in front of The Hoop Bus.
“We went on a cross-country tour on this bus, from LA to Washington, D.C.,” Corral said. “We did a three-month tour from city to city, and doing what we were trying to do today, it’s like I’m already immune to it. We’re not doing anything.”
The bus has traveled 12,000 miles, helped build seven basketball courts across the nation and visited 31 states.
Co-founder Eliot Robinson, who helps with social media, said, “(The Hoop Bus) started off as a fun project that Nick, (Nico Naismith, basketball architect and community activist), and I were working on. Ever since, it’s turned into a passion for Kobe Bryant and his passing. We really appreciate what he has done in this lifetime. His dedication and what he did, spiritually and mentally, to be able to commit to what he was able to do, we started off with that. Then, it became a Black Lives Matter movement.”
The Hoop Bus helps create a more connected world by combining charitable giving with basketball, art projects and political activism. The group went above and beyond what it set out to do, they said.
“It’s very difficult to explain,” Robinson said about The Hoop Bus. “Me and Nick started this, but it’s more than starting. It’s ‘how do you continue to run it?’ Then people have been latching on and coming on board. Everyone contributes in their own way. The movement in the future is more structure.”