As Americans welcomed Donald Trump as their 45th President today, police arrested nearly 100 protesters involved in “vandalism,” blocks away from the venue for his inauguration celebrations, marred by sporadic violence and clashes between masked protesters and police. A large number of protesters had gathered in the national capital since early morning to voice their anger and hold demonstrations against what they alleged were the divisive policies of the new administration. Clashes broke out between masked protesters and police in downtown Washington, blocks away from the route of a military parade in honour of the newly sworn-in President.
Earlier, police had to use pepper spray to disperse people who had gathered outside the National Press Club, against what they called “the Alt-Reich,” a reference to new administrations’s allegedly divisive, sexist and racist policies. Police had to use pepper spray as some of the protesters set off smoke devices in middle of the crowd. Washington Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Lt. Sean Conboy said they have arrested approximately “95 people,” for “vandalism and destruction of property.” “Two police officers were also hurt during confrontations with the protestors,” he added.
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The protesters hurled objects at police in riot gear, who responded with tear gas. “Impeach the predatory president,” read one of two messages projected onto the building’s façade, according to NBC News. One of the protesters burned a Trump hat, it said. Anti-Trump signs and banners were seen even early in the morning as thousands of his supporters made their way to the US Capitol this morning.
“They are white supremacist fascists,” a volunteer Desba Rojas was quoted as saying by The Los Angeles Times. Rojas said her goal was “to stop them from getting into office, and if they get into office, sopping them before they can consolidate” power. A large number of left protesters under the banner of DisruptJ20 planned a march towards the inauguration venue and display anti-Trump sign along the parade route. So did another antiwar and anti-racism group.
Ahead of the inauguration, Pew Research center in its latest survey said the public sees a country deeply fractured along partisan lines. The national survey found finds that fully 86 per cent describe the country as more politically divided today than in the past, while just 12 per cent say the US is no more divided.
Several dozen lawmakers including Indian-American Pramila Jayapal have decided against attending Trump’s inauguration.
Outgoing US President Barack Obama did not comment on his party lawmakers boycotting the inauguration. However, the Trump Transition Team said there is a nationwide enthusiasm for the new president, which is evident of thousands of people converging to the US Capitol.
As per the latest reports police said that at least 217 people were arrested and six officers were injured in scuffles with activists.
Protesters told the media that they fear a different kind of government now. “The alt-right’s vision for this country is not the one that we need. I’m out here tonight because I want to be part of the resistance efforts happening this week, and the resistance that’ll be happening the next four years,” Sarko Sarkodie, 26, who lives in Washington, told CNN.