Day One, Trump Inauguration is Protest from Dawn to Dusk
The sun had not yet risen but in the final twilight of the Obama administration the streets of Washington DC were aflutter for the incoming commander in chief. By 5:30 AM protesters had arrived at the inaugural ceremony gates, which weren't scheduled to open until 6. As if a seed crystal for the wandering pre-dawn dissenters, the initial group of anti-Israeli occupation protesters quickly solidified into a show of force. With villainous contempt from the arriving aristocrats, and cautious indifference from the regular-class Trump supporters, soon the protesters attracted the attention of riot police. The sun rose on a nation in spiritual ruin, the divisions between the ruling classes, the people, reality, never so apparent as now.
At the "Blue Gate" to the National Mall, where Trump would be sworn in later, protesters started the day with chants and signs and banners decrying torture, Israeli and American human rights abuses, and worker exploitation. When the crowd reached significant mass and linked arms in an attempt to block the gate, US Capitol Police and US Border Patrol officers responded quickly and a brief, tense, yet peaceful, shoving match ensued. After a moment of squeezed bodies and a brief dispersal by riot police, the group again returned to the same spot and resumed their wall, albeit with the sidewalks open for blue-ticket-holding guests.
In the early hours of the ceremony there were massive protest gatherings at all the Mall gates, some hundreds strong. Although the early-morning protests were distributed between the inaugural entrances, Union Station, and K Street, in sum their numbers easily exceeded a few thousand. While black-clad protesters smashed the windows of Bank of America and Starbucks, a few blocks away a march was making its way past the "Red Gate" on its way to Union Station, growing in size as it vacuumed up protesters along its path.
The march went through Union Station and came out again to meet a gathering of communist, socialist and Black Lives Matter protesters at Columbus Circle across the street, where speakers took turns on the megaphone to discuss injustice. The crowd grew in size in preparation for the next march, where Water Protectors took the charge in solidarity with the North Dakota pipeline protesters.
Blocking traffic as it went down Massachusetts Avenue, the march drew minimal police attention as it passed the site of earlier smashed windows on I street and joined with protesters in McPherson and Franklin Squares.
The tone of the day changed drastically from that point on. As protesters and police wrested for control of K Street, whereas chants filled the air up until then, it was time for smoke and fire to dominate.
Explosions rang in the air: the Metropolitan Police Department was firing flash-bang grenades and pepper spray into the crowd, at protester and journalist alike. As tensions escalated, black-clad protesters dragged newspaper bins into the street as a make shift barricade against the advancing riot police. With each grenade launched into the crowd, protesters responded with bricks, hurled through the air at the incoming officers, their shields raised to absorb the blows of falling stone.
The crowd, having been pushed back to Franklin Square from 11th Street, had set fire to newspaper bins and trash cans that were dragged into the street. As a black police SUV pierced the crowd to make its way behind the riot police line, eggs and bricks were thrown at it, breaking its rear and side rear windows. Marches splintered from this group in multiple directions with the riot police maintaining tight control preventing progress west on K Street. "We the people" was spray-painted in gold on a bus stop.
As the presidential motorcade made its way to the White House, protesters set fire to a limousine parked outside the Washington Post building. The limousine burned for a few minutes, billowing thick plumes of black smoke into the sky, with the inaugural parade only a few blocks away. Riot police quickly secured the area as the fire raged, using flash bang grenades at times. Moments later the fire department arrived and doused the flame, engulfing the street in sheets of thick smoke. Forensic investigators examined the limousine for hours as riot police held the vicinity tight.
It was a decisive moment in the day. It was the first time a car had been set on fire during a presidential inauguration in decades, perhaps ever. Barely half a block from the site of the torched vehicle, black-clad protesters ripped more bricks from the median at K Street, preparing for the next volley.
As small trash fires littered K Street into the night, peaceful marches continued through the streets of Washington DC. At one point a march of protesters staged a sit-in in front of the Chinatown arches at H Street. Although the numbers were down from their daytime peak, the march still commanded over a hundred protesters. Less than 12 hours later, a million demonstrators would converge on the capital for the Women's March -- but on day one of the Trump regime there were thousands, and they welcomed him into history with bricks and fire. Will the fight sustain for four years? The government sure hopes not.