Fires, Bricks Mark Daylong DC Assault 01/21 09:49
Protesters set fires and hurled bricks in a daylong assault on the city
hosting Donald Trump's inauguration, registering their rage against the new
president in a series of clashes that led to more than 200 arrests. Police used
pepper spray and stun grenades to prevent the chaos from spilling into Trump's
formal procession and evening balls.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Protesters set fires and hurled bricks in a daylong
assault on the city hosting Donald Trump's inauguration, registering their rage
against the new president in a series of clashes that led to more than 200
arrests. Police used pepper spray and stun grenades to prevent the chaos from
spilling into Trump's formal procession and evening balls.
Several spirited demonstrations unfolded peacefully at various security
checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through to the
inaugural ceremony. Signs read, "Resist Trump Climate Justice Now," ''Let
Freedom Ring" and "Free Palestine."
But about a mile from the National Mall, police gave chase to a group of
about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses including a
Starbucks, a Bank of America and a McDonald's as they denounced capitalism and
Trump. Police in riot gear used pepper spray from large canisters to help
contain the violence, which erupted periodically throughout the day.
"They began to destroy property, throw objects at people, through windows. A
large percentage of this small group was armed with crowbars and hammers," said
the city's interim police chief, Peter Newsham.
Six officers suffered minor injuries, he said.
The confrontation began an hour before Trump took the oath of office and
escalated several hours later as the crowd of protesters swelled to more than
1,000, some wearing gas masks and with arms chained together inside PVC pipe.
One said the demonstrators were "bringing in the cavalry."
When some crossed police lines, taunting, "Put the pigs in the ground,"
police charged with batons and pepper spray, as well as stun grenades, which
are used to shock and disperse crowds. Loud booms echoed through the streets
about six blocks from where Trump would soon hold his inaugural parade.
Some protesters picked up bricks and concrete from the sidewalk and hurled
them at police lines. Some rolled large, metal trash cans at police.
Later, they set fire to a limousine on the perimeter of the secured zone,
sending black smoke billowing into the sky during Trump's procession.
As night fell, protesters set a bonfire blocks from the White House and
frightened well-dressed Trump supporters as they ventured to the new
president's inaugural balls. Police briefly ordered ball goers to remain inside
their hotel as they worked to contain advancing protesters.
Police said they charged 217 people with rioting, said Newsham, noting that
the group caused "significant damage" along a number of blocks.
Before Inauguration Day, the DisruptJ20 coalition, named after the date of
the inauguration, had promised that people participating in its actions in
Washington would attempt to shut down the celebrations, risking arrest when
Trump supporter Brett Ecker said the protesters were frustrating but weren't
going to put a damper on his day.
"They're just here to stir up trouble," said the 36-year-old public school
teacher. "It upsets me a little bit that people choose to do this, but yet
again, it's one of the things I love about this country."
At one checkpoint, protesters wore orange jumpsuits with black hoods over
their faces to represent prisoners in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay. Eleanor
Goldfield, who helped organize the DisruptJ20 protest, said protesters wanted
to show Trump and his "misguided, misinformed or just plain dangerous"
supporters that they won't be silent.
Black Lives Matter and feminist groups also made their voices heard. Outside
the International Spy Museum, protesters in Russian hats ridiculed Trump's
praise of President Vladimir Putin, marching with signs calling Trump "Putin's
Puppet" and "Kremlin employee of the month."
Friday's protests spread across the nation and as far abroad as Australia.
In Sydney, thousands rallied in the city's central Hyde Park. One organizer
said hatred, bigotry and racism are not only America's problems.
In San Francisco, thousands formed a human chain on the Golden Gate Bridge
and chanted "Love trumps hate." In the city's financial district, a few hundred
protesters blocked traffic outside an office building partly owned by Trump.
In Atlanta, protests converged at City Hall and a few hundred people chanted
and waved signs protesting Trump, denouncing racism and police brutality and
expressing support for immigrants, Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Nashville, half a dozen protesters chained themselves to the doors of the
Tennessee Capitol. Hundreds also sat in a 10-minute silent protest at a park
while Trump took the oath of office. Organizers led a prayer, sang patriotic
songs and read the Declaration of Independence aloud.
In the Pacific Northwest, demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, burned U.S.
flags and students at Portland State University walked out of classes. Police
in Portland used incendiary devices and tear gas to disperse a crowd that at
one point numbered in the thousands. About 200 protesters gathered on the
Capitol steps in Olympia, Washington, carrying signs that included the messages
"Resist Trump" and "Not My Problem." Olympia police reported about 100 marchers
causing some traffic disruptions downtown, and protesters also marched in
The demonstrations won't end when Trump takes up residence in the White
A massive Women's March on Washington is planned for Saturday. Christopher
Geldart, the District of Columbia's homeland security director, has said 1,800
buses have registered to park in the city Saturday, which could mean nearly
100,000 people coming in just by bus.