As thousands of people crowded the National Mall to watch Donald J. Trump become the 45th president of the United States, others hit the streets of Washington, D.C., to protest his inauguration — some even resorting to violence.
Images and video surfaced on Twitter Friday morning of protesters smashing windows in downtown Washington of a Starbucks, while police deployed pepper spray against a large crowd.
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According to The Associated Press, an hour before Trump’s swearing-in ceremony, police chased off a group of approximately 100 protesters who smashed windows and called out denunciations of capitalism and Trump. The police, while in riot gear, deployed pepper spray eventually cordoned off protesters, who continued to shout, “Hands up, don't shoot.”
A National Guardsman stand guard in front of a DC building was vandalized by protestors Friday morning, Jan. 20, 2017.Photo by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory
National Guardsmen stand guard in front of a DC building was vandalized by protestors Friday morning, Jan. 20, 2017.Photo by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory
Thursday night, protests also broke out in Washington in front of the National Press Club where the controversial Deplora-ball was taking place. “The Metropolitan Police Department announced an arrest has been made in a Conspiracy to Commit an Assault offense that occurred in the 500 block of 14th Street, Northwest. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that several individuals made plans to disrupt inauguration activities in an unlawful way,” the police department said in a statement.
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Peaceful protests are also ongoing throughout the city. Members of Iraq Veterans Against The War, some of whom were arrested yesterday at Sen. John McCain's office for protesting the appointment of Rex Tillerson as secretary of State, held signs calling for the protection of water. Matt Howard, a Marine Corps veteran, told Task & Purpose that IVAW was there because “it's really important that we should put our voices out there and not just kind of sit by and accept what we see as a pretty disastrous presidency.”
“Inside the military, you’re encouraged to believe that you don’t have any right to be a political person — to have an opinion. That’s not the case, that’s not what democracy is about,” Howard added.
— Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory (@jenniferleigho) January 20, 2017
Despite early clashes between protesters and police, Michael Doyle, a lieutenant with 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery Regiment, New York National Guard, said so far the day had been “excellent.” More than 5,000 guardsmen deployed to Washington to support local authorities over inauguration weekend. Doyle said that troops had been thanked by protesters and local business owners, as well as provided with free coffee and food.
“We’re not down here to interject, we're just down here to have people express their First Amendment rights and assist in a peaceful transition of power, which is what happened,” Doyle told Task & Purpose.
Task & Purpose will continue to update as more details become available.
Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory contributed to this reporting.