Saturday night (October 3, 2020) a group of people assembled outside Walter Reed Hospital. They seemed to waving Trump Campaign flags and the national flag of East Turkestan. Why?


1 Answer 1


If you're referring to this (light blue flag on the left):

Image of Trump supporters outside Walter Reed

Then yes, that is the East Turkistan flag, and is likely being flown by people trying to draw attention to the oppression of Uighurs by the Chinese government. It isn't uncommon to see people sneak side-demonstrations in at places they know public figures and the media will be, and the East Turkistan flag is obscure enough (to American eyes) that it might be mistaken for some off-beat pro-Trump messaging.

Though it is a bit surprising no one did a double-take at the obviously Islamic symbology...

I saw this flag in two images of the supportive demonstration; in one it was incongruously at the very center of the mass of flags. But I'd be curious to know how long they were able to stay there until someone worked through the 'which of these things is not like the others' game and asked them to leave. No one in the news media (that I could find) seems to have caught onto it, so no one has followed up.

EDIT: Per comments, the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement has taken credit for the flags, wishing Trump a speedy recovery and asking him to take stronger action against China for their treatment of the Uighurs.

  • 21
    The "FREE TIBET" signs and shirts that have been at rallies for decades come to mind.
    – corsiKa
    Oct 6, 2020 at 15:50
  • 10
    As someone who was done this at protests before, my experience is that you can easily go hours if you don't make a big deal of it. Many "fellow" protestors won't even look at your signage and if you act like you belong, people will assume you are friends. Oct 6, 2020 at 21:32
  • 5
    You might want to stress that generally speaking, people to "hijack" a protest like that might not be Trump supporters at all. It takes a well-organised protest to ask unwanted guests to leave (see German Fridays for Future telling far-right nationalist "Blut und Boden / protect German forests from immigrants" people that they're not welcome).
    – gerrit
    Oct 7, 2020 at 7:25
  • 8
    Why would they ask them to leave? Taking a tougher stance against China - including but not limited to on the basis of their human rights violations - has been part of the Trump administration's policy since the beginning. Granted, the average Trump supporter probably knows little-to-nothing about the Uighurs.
    – reirab
    Oct 7, 2020 at 15:25
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    @reirab That takes a lot of thinking and research on the scene to organize what groups might be aligned with your views and which do not. It is far simpler and easier to separate out the messages that are not identical to your own. There's also the possibility that the hijack protesters lie to you about their flag and what it symbolizes. The polite move is to allow them to protest away from the main group, and to remove them if they keep trying to integrate. See various instances of hate groups tagging on to rallies and drawing widespread external criticism with their presence.
    – Shorlan
    Oct 7, 2020 at 21:18

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