Early Friday afternoon, thousands flooded the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., to peacefully resist the nascent Trump administration. A small group of others wanted to riot.
And they sure did try—breakings windows, and burning a trash can, newspaper vending machine, and even a limo—provoking riot police to retaliate with chemical spray and flash-bang grenades. Over 200 demonstrators got arrested and six officers were injured, according to local police.
While the vast majority of the marches and demonstrations to protest the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump on Friday went off without incident, some of these protesters attempted to set up ad hoc barricades near the intersection of K and 12th Streets Northwest, and hurled objects such as rocks, plastic bottles, and pieces of cement block towards police. Employing black-bloc tactics, where individuals wear black and often cover their faces, the more antagonistic and anarchist elements of the anti-Trump gathering faced off against a wide row of police.
The cops responded by firing off flash bangs and pepper spray in attempts to disperse the crowd, sending many of them retreating towards Franklin Square. Protesters chanted such popular slogans as “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” and the more succinct “Fuck Trump.” Interim DC Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters that it was just a small group, “maybe a couple hundred,” causing the chaos, and that literally “thousands of others” were peacefully demonstrating.
“We’re here to send a very clear message on Day 1,” Dana Markey, a 24-year-old part-time activist who identified as a Bernie Sanders supporter, told The Daily Beast. “We’re here to stand up for our Muslim-American brothers and sisters, our Mexican-American brothers and sisters, and all the other [groups] who are going to be directly threatened by Trump’s authoritarianism.”
Elsewhere, demonstrators organized drum circles, blocked off intersections, held up creative placards like “I’M NOT A SIGN GUY BUT GEEZ” and “FUCK YOUR WALL,” and, of course, strongly emphasized that Trump is still “Not My President.”
Earlier in the day, various pockets of protesters (joining from different groups, some more radical, some more familiar liberal or left-wing fare) marched throughout the downtown area outside the inauguration’s heavily guarded perimeter. Many demonstrated for Black Lives Matter, others argued against capitalism, and many chanted for women’s, immigrants’, and minorities’ rights. Several small groups linked arms to create human barriers in attempts to block Trump supporters and attendees from entering the several inauguration checkpoints erected in the city. Seated in a row in front of the checkpoint near E street and 10th NW, the human wall shouted at Trump fans trying to enter, labelling them “fascists,” “Putin lovers,” and “snowflakes.” Several people literally leapt over the protesters’ heads to get passed, as police tried to keep the peace.
Friday’s events came less than 24 hours after a heated protest took place outside the National Press Club on Thursday night where alt-right and Trump acolytes gathered for a dance party they dubbed the “Deploraball.”
Around a half-hour before the event was set to begin, anti-fascist activists—particularly the organization Refuse Fascism and protesters in town for marches during the inauguration weekend—huddled on 14th Street outside the Press Club. They held signs referring to the tuxedoed guests as “Alt-Reich” and stationed an inflatable elephant with the word “Racism” right in front of the building.
The two days of protest underscored the historic unpopularity of the new president in the United States, and served as a precursor to the Women’s March on Washington scheduled for Saturday, which is expected to be massive.
Some Trump supporters, who roamed the protests on Friday afternoon, surveyed the scene after leaving the National Mall, said that they thought the protesters were well within their rights, but, predictably, did not perceive it as being productive.
“We really were impressed with the inaugural speech and now we’re impressed with people’s right to protest, this is kinda cool,” Steve Parker, a 60-year-old financial adviser from Georgia, told The Daily Beast. “We’re here because we want to be out amongst them—we’re not going to start anything. But we’re going to support Trump.”
Parker said that while he was sitting at a nearby Five Guys, people (to whom he referred as “sore losers”) gave him and his son the finger. One guy mooned them as they ate, according to his son.
“They told us to accept Obama and we did,” Parker said. “And I respected the whole office of the president. But now, they don’t want to accept what just happened. And that’s ok.”
And, perhaps, they never will.