It’s been exactly one year since Donald Trump officially went from racist and psychologically addled TV man to racist and psychologically addled president.
In that time, the news has been dominated by Trump’s ongoing assaults on people of color, civil liberties, and the basic structure of American democracy. But there’s also been an entire year of non-Trump news that took a backseat while you were busy worrying about what the president is going to do next.
Here, then, are some of the things you might have missed since Trump was elected, one year ago today:
While most of us spent November 8 dealing with the grim sense of impending doom from the prospect of a Trump presidency, linguist, philosopher, and political scientist Noam Chomsky spent his day after the election worrying about the fate of the planet itself. In light of a World Meteorological Organization study released that day, which determined that the past five years have been the hottest on record, Chomsky mused:
It is hard to find words to capture the fact that humans are facing the most important question in their history—whether organized human life will survive in anything like the form we know—and are answering it by accelerating the race to disaster.
Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
As Standing Rock activists protested the Dakota Access oil pipeline, more than half a million gallons of oil were leaking from an entirely different petroleum project some 150 miles away.
In early December, more than half a million gallons of oil spilled from the Belle Fourche oil pipeline Ash Coulee Creek near the North Dakota town of Belfield. To make matters worse, initial reports put the total amount of oil spilled at just 170,000 gallons—only a third of the total amount later found to have leaked.
As one of its final acts before being turned into a stooge of the Trump administration, the Department of Justice issued a blistering report on the Chicago Police Department’s wide array of civil rights violations.
Commissioned as part of a yearlong investigation into the CPD following the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, the report determined that the department rife with rights violations:
The City received over 30,000 complaints of police misconduct during the five years preceding our investigation, but fewer than 2% were sustained, resulting in no discipline in 98% of these complaints.
In response to the report’s findings, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said: “Quite simply, as a department, we need to do better.”
The standoff in North Dakota between militarized police and unarmed activists protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline came to an ignominious end, as a phalanx of riot-gear clad officers moved in to clear the Standing Rock camp, arresting activists and media members alike.
Before police could sweep through the campsite, however, activists had already begun burning much of the tent city they’d called home for the past year. The fires, they explained, were part of a ritual ceremony in preparation for the impending evacuation.
When North Carolina passed its infamous HB2 bathroom bill in 2015, the state become the poster child for LGBTQ discrimination in America. More than a year later, the law was finally repealed thanks to the newly elected Democratic governor Roy Cooper. But the repeal measure wasn’t exactly the victory many civil rights advocates were hoping for.
The new law essentially rolled back the anti-trans restrictions put in place by HB2, but also prevented local municipalities from passing their own, stronger LGBTQ protections until 2020.
Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, was so incensed by the repeal effort, he dubbed it “HB2.0.”
With an expiration date for the lethal drugs used to execute convicted criminals in looming, Arkansas officials went on what could only be described as a spree, killing four death row inmates over the course of eight days.
Among those killed in Arkansas’ mad dash to end multiple lives was Ledell Lee, who never stopped maintaining his innocence since his 1995 conviction. According to the ACLU, Lee was never given a fair trial, and may very well have been innocent.
Five months after President Obama commuted her sentence as one of his final acts in office—and nearly seven years after first being sentenced to 35 years behind bars—Chelsea Manning took her first steps of freedom outside of a military prison.
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” Manning wrote. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”
She also posted a picture of her brand new post-prison sneakers.
After prolonged public outcry, one of Michigan’s highest-ranked officials was charged with a serious crime for his role in the ongoing public health crisis in Flint.
Nick Lyon, the director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, was accused of involuntary manslaughter for failing to warn residents of the waterborne outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in and around Flint. Lyon remains the most prominent Michigan official to be charged in the crisis, and joined 13 other state and city officials and former officials who had previously been arrested in connection with Flint’s undrinkable water.
In a year crowded with countless social justice actions around the country, you’d think it would be hard to crown one single protest the best of them all. You’d think, that is, until you saw the astonishing protest staged by a group of 15-year-old teenage girls, decked out in full quinceañera gowns, on the steps of the Texas Capitol.
The protest, held to oppose Texas’ SB4 anti-sanctuary city bill, featured a dance performance to “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” from the Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton mixtape, and Los Tigres Del Norte’s “Somos Más Americanos,” choreographed by the girls. The teens then went into the Capitol to lobby against the bill with lawmakers—still in full quinceañera regalia.
“Some people said that it was the best protest and event they’d ever been to,” protest organizer Cristina Tzintzún explained to Splinter at the time. “That it was the most inspiring because it was also a call to action, but was done in a way that used art as power to show that resistance is beautiful.”
While once unthinkable in American politics, the spectacular failure of the Republican Obamacare repeal plan reopened a long sought after goal amongst many Democrats—a single payer healthcare system. In August, the seriousness with which some Democratic heavyweights took the issue began to make itself clear, with a string of 2020 contenders officially throwing their weight behind Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill.
A number of Texas residents who fled their homes ahead of Hurricane Harvey returned to find more than just storm damage waiting for them—eviction notices instructing them to leave their rented apartments and houses within days. One such notice read:
Unfortunately, the damage to your unit is so extensive that your unit has become totally unusable as a practical matter for residential purposes.
To add insult to injury, the property rental company behind the notice reportedly demanded that month’s rent, despite having given the residents the (ostensibly temporary) boot. As for where the renters were supposed to go on such short notice? It’s unclear.
On October 21st, 47-year-old Stephanie Montez was found shot to death in a suburb of Corpus Cristi, TX. Her murder—the 24th of a transgender person so far this year—has officially made 2017 the deadliest year for trans people in the United States on record.
While shifting gender identities and misgendered police and media reports can make it difficult to track the exact number of transgender people killed across the U.S., transgender murder rates are believed to be steadily increasing from year to year—up from 23 in 2016. And with the murder of Georgia trans woman Candace Towns less than two weeks after Montez’s body was found, that horrifying increase shows little sign of stopping anytime soon.
As the list of powerful men accused to sexual harassment, rape, and predatory behavior grows in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, not even the halls of Congress are immune to the growing chorus demanding action.
Former Senator Barbara Boxer and former California congresswoman Mary Bono have each come forward with their own accusations against colleagues—some of whom are allegedly still in Congress today—who joked, propositioned, and harassed the woman with little to no repercussions. And current California representative Linda Sanchez claimed that when she was first elected to congress, a married representative “outright propositioned” her repeatedly.
Given that the allegations made by these former and current lawmakers come just over one year since the public learned that then-candidate Donald Trump was, himself, a sexual predator, it seems that despite how far we’ve come in 2017, we haven’t come nearly far enough.