While federal workers in some cities have taken to the streets to protest the ongoing partial government shutdown, some politicians have turned to more unconventional approaches. On Tuesday, shortly before Donald Trump gave his border speech, two California lawmakers protested Trump's shutdown by carrying trash to the White House.
California Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman carried blue trash cans, which had "Trump's Trash" taped on them, and dumped the trash in front of the White House. According to SF Weekly, Huffman gave reporters the backstory to this protest outside the White House: "Together, on a very rainy Saturday in San Francisco, we joined with volunteers to clean up trash that was overflowing in the Golden Gate National recreation area because of Donald Trump's government shutdown."
The area outside the White House is managed by the National Park Service. SF Weekly also reported that Speier said, “We’re here to say, ‘Mr. Trump, here’s your trash." She explained that they "did the work of some of your employees of the National Park Service, who by the way in our area have a hard time making it because it’s such a high-cost area.”
The shutdown, which began at midnight on Dec. 22, 2018, is the result of an impasse between Trump and the Democrats over the president's border wall demand. The president is asking for $5 billion in any federal budget legislation that lands on his desk, to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico — an idea the Democrats have expressed strong disagreement toward.
The government shutdown also affects national parks throughout the country. As a result, these places have been overwhelmed with garbage, vandalism, and in more graphic instances, human waste, as federal workers have been furloughed. On Tuesday, Huffman said that their protest was "to provide, hopefully, a reality check to our president."
"Let it never be said that I didn't give anything to Donald Trump," Huffman said, "because today, I'm bringing boxes of trash from that rainy Saturday in San Francisco to provide a reality check to the president, so that he understands his political stunt in shutting down the government over the border wall has real-world consequences."
It's a debilitating issue, Huffman went on to say. "Trash like this — diapers, burrito wrappers, coffee cups, and more — is building up in the parks we represent," he told reporters, "and in National Parks all over the country."
During his comments to the press, Huffman joked that perhaps with the amount of trash building up in national parks in America, a wall of garbage could be built in place of a border wall.
But on a more serious note, he added that the government shutdown was unfair to the volunteers in national parks attempting to help by picking up garbage as well as the federal workers who didn't know when they would get paid.
The situation in several national parks is getting objectively (and quite literally) unhealthy. National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz told the Los Angeles Times, "With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors." On Dec. 30, 2018, Yosemite National Park tweeted that Hetch Hetchy and Mariposa Grove had been shut down due to human waste in the areas.
Volunteers have tried to help lighten the burden on federal workers in national parks. One such example is of the Muslim youth group, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, which has volunteered to pick up garbage in the Everglades, Joshua Tree National Park, and other places.
The trash should serve as a reminder to Trump, according to Huffman. "We don’t need a nationally televised address from the White House to solve this problem tonight," he said.