As Donald Trump’s election victory was cemented during celebratory inauguration events in the nation’s capital, the dissent and divisive discord his campaign produced was evident on the streets of Washington DC as throngs of protesters arrived to disrupt proceedings.
A large group of activists from the anarchist group known as the black bloc smashed storefront windows and cars as they clashed with police shortly before the swearing-in ceremony was due to begin. Officers in riot gear responded with pepper spray and stun grenades as the breakaway protesters were overwhelmed with force less than two miles from the US Capitol.
The group of around 200 people, many wearing black hoodies and masks, were eventually contained by officers as they chanted: “This is what a police state looks like” and “You’re protecting fascists.” Eyewitnesses reported only a handful of arrests.
Most of the protesters declined to be interviewed or named, but one said their purpose was to reject “a system of economic exploitation called capitalism”.
“It’s not just about no order,” he said. “It’s about human freedom and an economy that’s run by the people.”
Another group of activists attempted to shut down a number of the security points allowing access to the public viewing area of the inauguration on the National Mall on Friday morning.
The small groups at these checkpoints, organised by a group named Disrupt J20, linked arms as some members were led away by police wearing body armor. The organization claimed on social media that they had temporarily shut down a number of the dozen checkpoints around the Mall, with a group of Black Lives Matter protesters reportedly closing access at one location for over an hour.