Dozens Arrested in Anti-Trump Protests Around Inauguration

Pepper sprays are used by law enforcement agencies for riot control. They help keep the crowd subdued preventing any grave injuries from happening:

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day festivities triggered a wave of turbulent demonstrations, dissent and dozens of arrests Friday as protesters brought traffic to a crawl in the nation’s capital.

After a night of chaotic clashes between police and protesters, violence erupted again in the city’s downtown, about five blocks from the presidential parade route.

Dozens of protesters — some self-described “anarchists” dressed in black and wearing masks — damaged businesses at 10:30 a.m. ET just before Trump’s swearing-in ceremony got underway, Metropolitan police said.

Authorities arrested 95 people — some charged with rioting — in the Franklin Park area and acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said there was “significant damage” to at least four businesses. Two police officers suffered minor injuries as protesters flung bricks, trash cans and other objects, and ignited small fires.

“I saw one guy, he was like pushing a cop, kind of antagonizing him, and the cop with the riot shield was banging him back,” Johnny Silvercloud, a freelance journalist who was photographing protesters, told NBC News.

One man was accidentally knocked over by protesters, a law enforcement officer told NBC News. He was bleeding from the back of his skull as paramedics helped him onto a stretcher.

Despite the arrests, the demonstrations continued through the afternoon, and police used pepper spray and flash-bang grenades to hold back the crowds, refusing to let people closer to the parade route.

What is largely a day of jubilation for the new president has been defined by mass protests that are expected to strengthen through the weekend. A Women’s March on Washington set for Saturday is expected to draw 200,000 protesters — a number that Inaugural Historian Jim Bendat said could break records.

Meanwhile, Interstate 695, which runs through the capital, came to a standstill Friday afternoon as people holding signs and waving flags stopped traffic.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said more than 3,000 police officers from other regions and 5,000 National Guardsmen are on hand to help secure the parade route.

With hundreds of thousands descending on D.C., security checkpoints were choked with foot traffic earlier Friday as inauguration ceremony ticket-holders weaved through demonstrators to get to Capitol Hill.

The protesters chanted and carried signs — many attacking Trump or making other political and social statements, including “Not my president,” “No Islamophobia” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Protesters Joni Lipson and Joan Duckenfield, both of Philadelphia, said they were buoyed by the huge turnout of protesters.

“It looks like there are more of us than Trump supporters here,” Duckenfield said.

Trump supporters at one checkpoint at 10th and E streets tried to thread their way past a group of self-described “anarchists.” But the demonstrators locked arms and inadvertently tripped a pro-Trump couple trying to pass.

Police immediately pounced and untangled everybody, while the protesters roared “Don’t touch me” and “Stop! Stop!” Nobody was arrested.

The scene was just one tense moment that played out after police deployed pepper spray as hundreds rallied Friday night outside the National Press Club, where a pro-Trump event billed as the “DeploraBall” was being held. Some demonstrators set off smoke devices in the middle of the crowd, and police in riot gear mobilized to block entrance to the event.

“Impeach the predatory president,” read one of two messages projected onto the building’s façade. Crowds chanted “Nazi scum” at those who entered. Some of the protesters were with the group Refuse Fascism.

But the protests have also included rallies for causes other than directly opposing Trump.

A group against the Dakota Access Pipeline, for example, confronted police Friday morning at the 14th and F streets entrance into the parade route. Police pulled protesters away from the checkpoint, amid cries of “No warning!”

Others, like the pro-marijuana legalization group DCMJ advocated on their own behalf. Marijuana use is legal in Washington, and DCMJ handed out thousands of marijuana cigarettes, or joints, for free to show support for legalization.

More than 10,000 people had gathered Friday morning in DuPont Circle, in a line stretching five blocks long, to pick up their weed, said DCMJ co-founder Nikolas Schiller. They planned to march toward the National Mall and light up at exactly 4 minutes and 20 seconds into Trump’s inaugural address — a nod to the number “420” which is code for marijuana/getting high.

“I got my joint and it’s wonderful,” Justice Shakur, who drove from Baltimore, told NBC News, adding that “you can be a Trump supporter and still like marijuana.”

The demonstrations in D.C. have been one of several held throughout the country in opposition to Trump, including a “unity” demonstration outside Trump International Hotel in New York. The event got a boost of star power from Robert De Niro, Sally Field and Mark Ruffalo.

As seen on NBC News

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