WASHINGTON: Protesters made themselves heard in the nation’s capital Friday, leaving a trail of damage along some city blocks, disrupting security checkpoints at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, and clashing with police as Trump supporters tried to celebrate.
As people poured into the city to watch Trump sworn in as the 45th president, they encountered protesters across the area throughout the day. Many of the demonstrations were nonviolent, with people holding signs that spoke to their causes and concerns. One protest even took on a carnival atmosphere, with puppets, stilt walkers and a giant inflatable elephant wearing a sign that read “racism.” But other groups tried to disrupt the day’s events by burning flags, throwing bricks and rioting en masse, leading to injuries and nearly 100 arrests by early afternoon.
Six people intent on interrupting the presidential swearing-in ceremony made it into the closest section of seats to Trump. They wore shirts that spelled out “R-E-S-I-S-T” and got up and started shouting “We the people!” as Trump took the oath of office at noon. As authorities removed them from the area, they raised their fists and shouted “USA! USA!” One woman yelled, “We’re for an America for all of us.”
Some in the crowd responded with taunts: “Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, good bye.”
After the swearing in, protesters arrived at the Franklin Square area and clashed with police. The protesters were throwing rocks, bricks and chunks of concrete and taking newspaper boxes and barriers and putting them on the streets. Meanwhile police appeared to be using a flurry of flash-bang grenades and chemical spray to hold the protesters back, pushing them block-by-block west along K Street, from 12th Street toward 14th Street.
During the afternoon clash, the protesters started a fire in the middle of the street using garbage bins and newspaper boxes, and some climbed trees and light poles. About 100 officers in riot gear, carrying shields, stood in a line blocking off K Street.