Politics

Protesters Greet Inauguration Guests, Clash With Police in Streets

People swarm Metro stations, event entrances and damage property in protest against Trump

Firefighters quickly extinguished a fire near 13th and Massachusetts Ave. Friday morning before Donald Trump was sworn in. (Matt Rhodes for CQ Roll Call)

Pockets of protests erupted throughout Washington, DC, Friday, at times threatening to overshadow the pomp of Donald Trump's inauguration and presenting a reminder of the stark divisions facing the 45th president.

Demonstrators arrived early, touting concern for issues including immigration, border control, labor and racism. Some attempted -- unsuccessfully -- to block the crowds that filed into the Capitol grounds before Trump was sworn in. In what appeared to be isolated outbursts of violence, other groups set small fires throughout the city, broke windows and clashed with police in the Franklin Square area.

Almost 100 people were arrested, many charged with rioting. Three police officers and one civilian were injured, police said.

The events punctuated an otherwise calm transfer of power that drew notably smaller crowds to the nation’s capital than previous inauguration ceremonies.

Acting DC Police Chief Peter Newsham told CNN that several hundred protesters confronted police. He praised the thousands of other peaceful demonstrators, the network reported.

 

"We have been pointing out all along that this is a very isolated incident and, by and large, everything is going peacefully and a lot of folks have come to the city to enjoy this historic day, not only the Capitol but walking all around the city," Newsham told the network.

 

The most violent protest of the day broke out near the parade route around 2 p.m., shortly before Trump and his motorcade were scheduled to pass through. Police could not immediately provide information about the altercation, but CNN footage showed officers in riot gear rushing protestors and firing flash-bang devices at 12th and K streets. Some of the demonstrators were reportedly throwing bricks and rocks.

The clash followed an earlier altercation, in which police used pepper spray to subdue members of one organized group that was damaging property and setting small fires as they marched south in Northwest Washington. Some in that group were armed with crowbars, hammers and asps, police said.

Those demonstrators were observed breaking windows and damaging newspaper bins before police descended near 12th and L streets around 10:30 a.m., according to a Metropolitan Police Department statement.

Police vehicles were damaged during “coordinated attacks by members of the group that were attempting to avoid arrest,” the statement said.

Police did not provide detailed information on the injured Friday afternoon. One of the officers had a sprained or broken ankle and the others had "bumps and bruises," police spokeswoman Rachel Reid said. The civilian, who was believed to be a bystander, "possibly" suffered a head injury that was not life threatening, she said.

Crowds began gathering early Jan. 20 on the West Front of the Capitol for Trump's inauguration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Crowds began gathering early Friday on the West Front of the Capitol for Trump's inauguration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Several groups attempted to block Trump supporters from getting through the security checkpoints to view the inauguration on the Mall. Police, however, pushed the protesters away to allow for entry.

Security was fortified around the Capitol, which was crawling with law enforcement officials. Officers handed out maps and monitoring lawmakers and and their staffs as they entered the complex.

Washington, D.C., police reported that all checkpoints remained open throughout the ceremony.

Later Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer will join members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to talk about what they see as dangers to immigration policy under a Trump presidency.

More than 65 House Democrats said they would boycott the inauguration as a statement against a Trump presidency.

Other people in D.C. resorted to quieter forms of protest. As passengers sat silently on the Green Line train toward the Shaw-Howard Metro stop, one woman wore white tube socks labeled “Nasty Woman.”

Andrew Breiner and Kellie Mejdrich contributed to this report.

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