Just outside the U.S. Capitol grounds, groups of protesters occupied security checkpoint areas — an effort organized as part of a larger #DisruptJ20 movement.
Demonstrations in the security checkpoint areas were organized by themes, which included economic and racial justice and climate change.
“The checkpoint protests will call attention to the many threats faced by both people and the climate in the face of the Donald Trump Administration,” said a press release for the #DisruptJ20 movement.
An army official who had been stationed at the gates since 4 a.m. said protesters shut down security checks for around an hour and a half.
Jacob Martin, an animal rights protester from Chapel Hill, joined Collectively Free in protesting the inauguration.
“It seems that some people are still getting through, but we’ve definitely significantly bottlenecked a lot of the traffic, so I would say that we’re having a pretty successful disruption here,” Martin said.
Streets away, police encountered the first acts of vandalism and made arrests at 10:30 a.m. According to the police report, protesters damaged vehicles, shattered windows of businesses, and ignited isolated fires.
Several groups protesting temporarily combined around L St. and 12th — chanting “Let Them Go” and “Black Lives Matter” before a police force clad in riot gear. By approximately 1:45 p.m., the police began releasing pepper spray into the crowd.
The crowd dispersed in minutes of confusion and urgency — one mother telling her son to keep running until he reached an intersection a block away. As some protesters scattered, others began hurling rocks at police officers. It was unclear to DTH reporters present at the scene what specifically prompted the police response, or the use of the booming crowd control devices. They were released in several waves, minutes apart.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recognized the presence of the police force during inaugural events in a press conference Friday night.
“We respect the rights of people to express their First Amendment rights, but violence and destruction will not be tolerated,” she tweeted.
The next morning, metros brimmed with riders from across the country, who eagerly clutched signs for the Women’s March on Washington.
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Train after train, participants exchanged cheers, messages of resilience — diverging from the normal attitudes found on a busy commute.
“Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like,” the crowd cheered in call and response, before returning home.