Protesters rallied, marched, blocked highway traffic and occasionally became violent Friday to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
There were several protests and marches organized throughout the city. Demonstrators primarily gathered at Union Station, near the Capitol Building and downtown near the White House. Some demonstrators blocked highway traffic around midday. There were also reports of violence.
Protesters supported issues like worker rights, immigration, reproductive rights, and healthcare. There was a range of political ideologies present including communism and anarchism. Many were opposed to capitalism, international trade, and the current political system.
“I want Donald Trump to know that his bigotry, his fascism, the racism, I’m not in support of that,” Kenneth Clark, a protester, told InsideSources. “He wants to build walls, we don’t need to build walls, we need to build bridges. And he is the definition of the snare, the racism and the bigotry that exists here in this country.”
Many protesters opposed the president directly while others argued he was a symptom of a much larger problem. They were primarily concerned with his rhetoric, policy proposals, and cabinet appointments. Demonstrators also argued he was racist and sexist.
“Ultimately it’s the way Trump’s words have emboldened the rise of fascism again here in the U.S.,” Jen Marley, a protester, told InsideSources. “White supremacists are feeling safe and feeling protected, spouting bigotry.”
Most of the demonstrations were relatively nonviolent, but that wasn’t always the case. Reuters reports that anti-establishment activists smashed windows, damaged property, lit fires and clashed with the police. Police officers were hospitalized.
“He’s going to lead us to environmental catastrophe, towards racial catastrophe, towards mass murder and deportations, and that’s just the beginning,” Ben Bruno, a protester, told InsideSources. “People should know that the people attending the inauguration in support of Donald Trump are either racists or they have been duped mightily by the media and by the system. Wise working people do not support anything in his agenda.”
Protesters who decided to march down the highway got mixed reviews from the motorists they were blocking. Some people got out of their cars to cheer the protesters on while others were visibly annoyed. Police cars ensured the marchers kept going until they eventually left the highway.
“I’m upset, I’m very disappointed but the fight is not over at this point for me,” Lisa Rodriguez, a student protesting, told InsideSources. “If anything, as a black woman, I’m more motivated to do my due diligence to my country and make sure everyone knows that, who I am as a woman, I am not an inconvenience to society. I belong here.”
Many protesters argued Trump isn’t a legitimate president. They believe the electoral college system isn’t democratic and therefore his victory shouldn’t count. Some also noted concern over allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin manipulated the election to help Trump win.
“We have a tyrant now, put up by a foreign power into an office of the United States government,” Don Cartier, a protester, told InsideSources. “Trump attacks every single person except for Putin, who he praises endlessly. Is that not the slightest bit suspicious to anyone but me. Come on.”
Trump was seen by many supporters as a genuine person who wasn’t part of the political establishment. His brash tone was deemed offensive to some but honest to others. Nevertheless, some critics believe he isn’t genuine and he’ll play the same old political game as everyone else.
“His promises aren’t worth shit because he’s not a genuine person.” Richard Kossally, a protest organizer, told InsideSources. “He stands for nothing real except to enrich himself, and I think he’s going to use his presidency to enrich himself in some ways by changing laws.”
“He doesn’t care, he really doesn’t, he’s going to sign whatever the GOP puts on his desk and that’s going to mean a wide variety of things for the people that voted for him,” J.J. Biel, a protester, told InsideSources. “He’s a racist, he’s a bigot, he ran a very horrible campaign and now he’s in charge of our country.”
Some Trump supporters ventured near the protests to get a better look. A few verbal arguments ensued but mostly the two sides left each other alone. James Pritchard supports the new president but added the demonstrators have every right to express their opposition.
“It’s freedom of speech. I don’t have any problem with them protesting,” Pritchard told InsideSources. “There’s like a million people over a mile supporting Trump and you got maybe, what, a hundred thousand walking the streets that are not supporting him. I don’t have a problem with that. Freedom of speech is American.”
Some believe the new president reflects a bigger problem facing the country and the world. They argued his victory was a sign the system is broken. Kossally added the system was controlled by a corporate class and that capitalism was to blame.
“I believe we need a revolution,” Kossally said. “We need to overturn the system. It is not reformable. This capitalist system is actually destroying the world. That’s the larger part, it’s already been destroying the lives of people and destroying people.”