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Police respond to anti-Trump protesters in Washington with pepper spray and smoke bombs

Demonstrations in DC flared up throughout Inauguration Day.

Protesters clash with police after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Protesters clash with police after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Protests erupted across Washington, DC, on inauguration Friday and police responded with pepper spray, smoke bombs, and flash grenades to disperse the crowds. Police arrested at least 95 people.

Clashes between anti-Trump protesters and law enforcement escalated throughout the day, according to American University Radio reporter Patrick Madden who has been following the demonstrations on the ground.

Anti-Trump protesters have been chanting “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,” and, “not my president.”

A video filmed from the Washington Post’s offices captures protesters running from flash grenades and smoke bombs meant to disperse the crowds.

Some protesters damaged property, burned Trump merchandise, and tried to block Trump supporters from getting to the inauguration site. According to the Associated Press, “police gave chase to a group of about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses including a Starbucks, Bank of America and McDonald's as they denounced capitalism and Trump.”

Many protesters quickly condemned the violence. On the ground, they confronted other demonstrators, telling them “not to destroy property” and that violence “only helps Trump.”

As the inauguration ceremony came to a close, protests and tensions also began to die down, and crowds slowly started to disperse. But there were still occasional flare-ups as the day went on.

The protests followed high tensions over the past two days as thousands of Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters came to Washington, DC, to bear witness and speak out against Trump’s swearing-in ceremony as the 45th president of the United States. Security has been tight, with screening checkpoints surrounding the Capitol Building.

Protesters have been blocking security checkpoints

After a night of demonstrations and riot police in the streets, altercations between protesters, police, and Trump supporters started up again early Friday morning.

Anti-Trump protesters chained themselves to the population controlling fences close to the National Mall, according to BuzzFeed News reporter Zoe Tillman.

These tactics led to clashes with the police.

“There were plenty of near-fights between protesters blocking entrances to the inauguration and Trump supporters trying to get through the checkpoints,” Vox writer Sean Illing reported. “Cops were roughing up protesters trying to clear paths.”

Some shop windows have been smashed in downtown DC

Businesses located near the parade route — like this corner about four blocks north and east of the White House — saw their windows smashed.

Protesters also set fire to a vandalized car, trash cans, newspaper stands, and Trump merchandise.

While most of the protests were peaceful, the demonstrations escalated at different points throughout the day.

Police helicopters have been circling above the protesters. On the ground, law enforcement teams have been trying to disperse crowds, firing pepper spray and flash grenades. “Much different police posture this afternoon,” Madden reported on Twitter.


Correction: The article originally mischaracterized the chemical weapon police used. It was pepper spray, not tear gas.

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