Every night for the last month, Bryce Tache has stood on the corner of Diamond Lake & Portland holding a sign in protest of Donald Trump.
It all started in June, when Tache, a South Minneapolis husband and father of two, finally got fed up with the callousness of the Trump administration. Around the time federal officials were separating children from their babies, a friend in Spain wondered aloud to Tache about the lack of outrage being expressed in the streets of America. He made a sign and stood at the corner of one of the busiest intersections in South Minneapolis, near Pearl Park at rush hour, waving and thumbs-upping at motorists, most of who honked in solidarity and gratitude.
He returned the next night, where he was joined by a few neighbors, and the night after that, and every night after that. Last week Tache came up with the hashtag #StandOnEveryCorner to spread the word about his commitment to stand on the corner every day from 6 p.m.–7 p.m., with anyone and everyone who’s with him, until Election Day in November. An average of 25 protesters a night have joined him in Minneapolis and in twenty cities and counting across the country.
“This is our 30th day,” Tache said Thursday, midway into his daily one-hour shift protesting the president, as a light drizzle fell on him and his fellow protesters. “I do inclusion and diversity work. It’s good stuff. As much as I love my job, this is like a thousand times more rewarding and important to me now.
“My husband and I were vacationing in Barcelona, and people there were just saying they couldn’t believe people in the United States weren’t out in the streets marching every day, and so on the plane ride back I just made the decision: I feel so empowered by the marches and these other events when I go to them, but they’re once a month or once every two months. I needed to do something every day.
“So I just posted something on Twitter, ‘Hey, tomorrow night I’m going to be on this corner.’ And the idea was to make it easy for people, so you don’t have to travel far from your neighborhood. You can do it in a park, a sidewalk, a corner, anywhere. And it just kind of grew. The first night we had eight people. This week we got 32 people.”
As he spoke, signs proclaiming “Honk If You Resist Trump,” “What The Helsinki? ” “Make America Brown Again,” “Honk to Dump Putin’s Puppet!” “Honk to Impeach for Treason,” “Wanted: Action and Compassion” and “Make America Kind Again” drew a constant chorus of honks. Carloads of screaming and waving kids and adults flew by. Solo drivers nodded and cruised on. The smiles of the protesters mirrored the smiles of the motorists, and the sheer hopeful surprise attack of it all made the news of the day feel momentarily manageable.
“It’s empowering,” said Tache, who has been joined by friends, family, neighbors, strangers, clergy members and politicians running for office. “It’s every night, and 99 percent of the feedback we get is positive. Our hope is that with every honk comes the commitment to vote. We can register people to vote here, and we’re trying to get people to realize they have to take local action to make change.”
The honking enlivens all concerned. Out of the darkness of their own newsfeeds and screens, as the protesters exchange waves and whoops of encouragement from complete strangers, they realize they’re not alone in their despair over some of the most troubled times this country has endured. It’s a brave and laudable act and galvanizing to think that similar scenes are playing out simultaneously on corners across the land.
“It’s not an activism. I’m learning this as I go along,” Tache said. “I’m connected with a lot of activists on Twitter, and so I’m learning a lot from them. As soon as Trump was elected, I think a lot of people realized we have to get more involved in our communities and our politics. So I think everyone here would identify as a member of the resistance.”
His voice is drowned out by more honking. The honking, in fact, is non-stop. Loud, long, affirmative blasts. Short, tuneful toots of support. A joyful noise, a cacophony of agreement and solidarity for the Pearl gang’s boots-on-the-ground stand that turns rush hour into a party for progressives, even as the latest horror story from The Truman Trump Show plays out.
Afterwards, the purposeful party continues on Twitter each night. The photos are poignant: An elderly couple standing alone in downtown Attleboro, Massachusetts; the 50-strong group in Vermont; five friends in Portland, Oregon; gaggles in Salt Lake City, Utah; St. Petersburg, Florida; Sacramento, San Francisco and San Diego, California; New York City; Bridgton, Maine; Naperville, Illinois; Sherwood, Oregon; Englewood, New Jersey; and one woman, Krishna Kaney, who perhaps best personified the movement when she posted a selfie and wrote, from a street corner in Chicago: “I’m going out there even if no one else will.”
On the Interstate 94 overpass, the St. Croix Valley Women’s Group flew anti-Trump and -Putin banners to honks and waves from stuck-in-traffic commuters. From Portland, Asha Dornfest wrote, “That was one of the most empowering, heart-filling experiences EVER. Friends, neighbors, kids, spouses … and the happy honks of passersby. Feeling totally patriotic and proud.” From Minneapolis, Nuala Foley wrote, “I’m talking to my fellow teens when I say PUT DOWN YOUR PHONES AND GET INVOLVED. Go spend an hour with @brycetache and his passionate group.” From Australia, Melissa Benyon tweeted:
“How to start your own #StandOnEveryCorner protest-
- Make some signs (creative and fun)
- Pick a spot near your home or work (the kind of place you might sit with a coffee)
- Invite a couple of friends (maybe they’ll bring cookies)
- Get the word out re: time and place with the hashtag, and get out there”
“We’re patriots!” yelled one of the protesters who gathered for the photo that goes with this column, and she’s right and she’s not alone.
“I saw a tweet of Bryce’s, and I keep this sign in my car,” said Marti Priest, an office manager from Hopkins, who held a double-sided placard reading, “Impeach The Puppet” and “Fascist Coup In Process.” “For me, it’s about pushing people left. The people that are in their cars, this is not their gig, but they need to know that we’re here, and that we’re loud, and that we’re not going away. So that they can maybe call their senator or do something. They may not come out here and hold a sign, but maybe they’ll talk to their neighbor. Maybe they’ll have a conversation.”
“We’ve been coming every night,” said Joan Hilden, who attended Thursday’s protest with her husband, Dick Hilden. “It’s the most energizing hour of our day. We live just around the block, and we just love coming here. There are new people every night, and we’re united for a common cause, so we feel like we’re all kin. I said to one of the gals, ‘Pretty soon we’ll have to have a pot luck.’ We’d like to see these on every corner. We think if we get more publicity, people will go, ‘We can do that.’ ”
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in South Minneapolis. He can be reached at [email protected].