J20 Protest Simulator


Choose Your Own Adventure in the Streets and Courts of Washington, DC

After extensive research, we’ve prepared an interactive narrative simulation—a Choose Your Own Adventure game—based on the experiences a person could have participating in the black bloc march against Trump’s inauguration and the notorious court case that followed it. Obviously, this is a work of historical fiction—we know you would never participate in a black bloc, dear reader—but we have meticulously constructed the narratives from the details of real events. We hope it will serve an educational as well as historical function.

Click Here to Play

The simulation doesn’t reflect the story of every single protester or arrestee, nor does it systematically account for the dramatically different experiences people had interacting with the police and court system according to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and physical mobility. However, we collected narratives from a variety of vantage points, and the advantage of this format over the linear reportback model is that it allows for multiple perspectives and layers of reality.

The game is scored along two axes—risk and solidarity. Risk assesses the degree of danger you expose yourself to via your actions in the streets and your decisions in the legal process; solidarity measures the extent to which you disrupt Trump’s inauguration and contribute to the safety of other protesters and defendants. Try playing to minimize your risk while maximizing your solidarity score; then, as a learning exercise, see what happens when you try to maximize the risks you expose yourself to. The lessons of this game may not hold true for every demonstration or court case in the future, but they do roughly reflect what happened in Washington, DC on January 20, 2017 and afterwards.

This is part of a series looking back on the events of J20 and the legal struggle that followed it. Check out the rest of the series:

Anarchist Resistance to the Trump Inauguration

We’ve Got Your Back: The Story of the J20 Defense

I Was a J20 Street Medic and Defendant

Between the Sun and the Sea: Icarus at 12th and L—A Voice from the J20 Black Bloc and Kettle on the Practice of Anarchy

To learn more about the demonstrations during Trump’s inauguration and the court cases that followed:

DefendJ20—The support website for J20 defendants

DisruptJ20—Report on the blockades that morning

J20 Live Updates—Our live coverage of anarchist resistance during Trump’s inauguration