Pepper Sprayed And Arrested: Violence Erupts At Inauguration Protests

Anarchists and anti-fascists targeted corporate establishments before being stopped by police

Jan 20, 2017 at 11:45 AM ET

Police shut down a street in Washington D.C. where violent protests erupted as Donald Trump was sworn in nearby as president at the U.S. Capitol. Throngs of anarchists and anti-fascists on Friday marched through downtown and smashed the windows of corporate establishments before being thwarted by police. At least 120 people were arrested, according to DC Metropolitan Police.

The group of approximately 300 people, dressed mostly in black and carrying banners reading “Join the Resistance,” were there to protest Trump’s inauguration. Starting out at McPherson Square, the march began peacefully at around 10 a.m. local time. The protest quickly turned into a borderline riot 10 minutes after it started, as participants took aim at the store windows of Starbucks and McDonalds with rocks and bricks, as well as a limousine that was parked on the street. Protestors chanted “Let them go!” as they watched officers arrest people, while others directed their anger squarely at Trump. Under the gloomy and apocalyptic sky, and with the sounds of helicopters buzzing overhead, anti-Trump protestors chanted “Fuck Trump” and “Trump is a Nazi.”

“I’m an anarchist. I’m a social anarchist, I believe in mutual aid, I believe in helping ourselves, I believe we help one another by helping ourselves, and we help each other by helping others,” said a performance artist who goes by the name Vermin Supreme.

Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said 28,000 officials were deployed for the inauguration, including more than 3,000 police officers and 5,000 members of the National Guard. Police in riot gear lined the streets where burned out garbage cans were turned on its sides, and where broken glass littered the sidewalks.

“Trump is a fascist scum,” said Devin, a 26-year-old protester who wanted to be identified only by his first name. “Look around you. Look what’s happening. The fucking military is here.” 

After about 45 minutes of chaos, the group, which reportedly swelled to about 1,000 people, according to some media outlets, was met by roughly 100 police officers who funneled the crowd into the intersection of 12th and L Streets in downtown Washington D.C. near the sites of several government buildings. The crowd proceeded to charge at the police, who attacked the protesters with pepper spray. Police eventually defused the situation and made the protestors stand with their hands up, and then started making arrests.

Moments before the inaugural parade was scheduled to start, a crew was already on the scene to clean up the broken glass outside of Starbucks and Bank of America.  This demonstration was markedly different than the peaceful protests unfolding across the capital, in which thousands of people are taking part.

More At Activist Training Camp, Protesters Prep To Disrupt Inauguration

A group of anti-Trump activists last week held a training session at American University in Washington D.C. for protestors aiming to “shut down” the nation’s capitol during Friday’s inauguration.

The group, which calls itself DisruptJ20 serves as an umbrella organization aimed at helping other groups and individuals organize against Trump. At least 91 different groups signed on to be a part of DisruptJ20, including several anarchist groups and anti-fascist organizations. It was not immediately clear if those protesting in downtown D.C. on Friday were a part of DisruptJ20.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.