More than 200 people have been arrested as of Friday evening in connection with protests that erupted during the inauguration of President Donald Trump, according to a spokesman for the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department. The demonstrations included acts of vandalism and clashes with police officers, who used flash bang grenades and pepper spray against the protesters.
Yahoo News was present for a particularly intense clash between police and hundreds of demonstrators that took place in the vicinity of K Street and 14th Street Northwest at about 5 p.m. Demonstrators lit multiple fires in the area and set ablaze a limousine. Police officers in riot gear moved in on the scene and pushed the protesters back using pepper spray and flash bang grenades. Some of the demonstrators, many of whom wore masks and helmets, retaliated by throwing bottles and bricks.
A man who said his name was Hassan remained in the street facing the line of officers after being sprayed in the face.
“They’ll have to bodily kick me out against every fiber of my being,” Hassan said as he grimaced in pain and a mixture of pepper spray and tears flowed down his cheeks.
Hassan later told Yahoo News the experience felt like being “tattooed on the face.” He also shared his reasons for wanting to be part of the protests against Trump. Hassan said he wanted to be in the street “standing and being representative of the fact that there is absolute disagreement with what is going on in this country right now.” He further explained that he believed Trump is a threat to minorities and LGBT people.
“The vast majority of minorities in this country have a whole lot to worry about,” Hassan said
The area calmed down by evening, though police and protesters remained in the street.
Not all of the anti-Trump demonstrators in the nation’s capitol on Friday clashed with police. Most took part in peaceful rallies and expressed their dissent through signs and costumes. At one event in McPherson Park, Mary Musson and Stephanie Reece wore t-shirts for a hypothetical “Michelle Obama 2020” presidential campaign. Reece didn’t hesitate when Yahoo News asked if she wished the former first lady had run in last year’s election.
“Hell yeah! Are you kidding? She’d be awesome!” Reece said of Obama.
Reece was far less enthusiastic about Trump’s speech following the swearing-in ceremony.
“He didn’t try to unite anybody, that’s for sure,” she said of Trump.
Musson described the president’s inaugural address as “horrifying.”
“I just found nothing uplifting or positive,” said Musson.
The pair told Yahoo News they came from Maine to participate in the “Women’s March” protest against Trump that is scheduled for Saturday. Musson predicted the anti-Trump demonstrations would extend far beyond the weekend of the inauguration.
“I think this is going to be a movement that’s not going to stop,” she said.
Many of the signs, t-shirts and costumes at the protests referenced the fact that Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the presidential race against Trump last year. Others referenced a report released by the U.S. intelligence agencies that concluded the Russian government released emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and a top aide to Clinton’s campaign in order to benefit Trump. One man sold buttons that featured a painting of Putin holding a baby version of Trump.
In McPherson Square, Jacob Shiman and his brother, Andrew, had a costume that featured masks of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump, and bondage gear. Jacob, dressed as Putin, was dragging Andrew, who played the part of Trump, by a chain attached to his neck. The brothers said they were trying to show their concern over Trump’s past praise for Putin and unverified allegations that the Russian government has compromising information about the new president.
“I don’t think Vladimir Putin is someone who should be emulated,” Andrew said, adding, “I mean, he kills journalists in his country. He kills political opposition. So, I just really hope that his governing style does not come to the U.S.”
At some locations, Trump supporters made their way through protests and many of them exchanged words with demonstrators. Christine Escalona, a California woman who wore a knit hat with a Trump logo, shouted that it was “ridiculous” for people to light cars on fire as she passed the scene on K Street.
“It’s really sad. They’re destroying their community. It’s very sad,” Escalona told Yahoo News.
Escalona said she understood why some people were upset about Trump’s election, but suggested they needed to have a more open mind.
“I think they need to look at the bigger picture – that he wants to create jobs for everybody and not just the wealthy ones,” Escalona said of Trump.
Another group of Trump supporters in “Make America Great Again” hats didn’t stop to talk to the demonstrators as they passed by K Street. However, some protesters threw litter at them and shouted as they walked by.
“Get out of here!” one of the men yelled. “Get your ass out of the city!”