Zero arrests were made Saturday when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched on the National Mall to protest President Donald Trump’s (R) inauguration and advocate for women’s rights, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department reported.
The absence of arrests contrasts the 217 arrests made on Friday following Trump’s inauguration, as protesters gathered in McPherson Square, Franklin Square and various points along K St. NW and L St. NW. Six officers were injured in rolling confrontations in and around downtown as organized protesters associated with protest groups such as Disrupt J20 and RefuseFascism.org set fire to trash bins, shattered windows at bus stops and threw rocks at police.
During Friday’s confrontations with protesters, MPD officers used flash-bang grenades and chemical spray to funnel demonstrators west along K St. from 12th St. toward 14th St. In a report released by the MPD that afternoon, the department said protests turned into vandalism around 10:30 a.m.
“The group damaged vehicles, destroyed the property of multiple businesses, and ignited smaller isolated fires while armed with crowbars, hammers, and asps,” the statement reads.
According to released MPD reports, protesters were arrested on accounts of vandalism, rioting and assault on a police officer while armed due to certain demonstrators throwing rocks at approaching police officers.
Christine Yan (SFS ’19), who did not attend the inauguration but participated in the protests in downtown D.C. on Friday, said she did not know what to expect when she joined protestors on the intersection of 10th St. NW and E St. NW. Yan said the demonstration turned more violent when Trump supporters faced-off with protestors.
“Some Trump supporters also became very confrontational, ignoring police suggestions to merely walk around to the side to enter the checkpoint, but grabbing protesters and forcing themselves through,” Yan said. “I want to emphasize how I felt the attitude of the protestors was overall peaceful — and the mission to send a strong message, because there are so many stories circulating about how destructive and violent some protesters were.”
The march gathered a much larger than expected turnout and grew too large to march to the White House as originally planned, organizers said.
Meredith Forsyth (SFS ’19), chair of the Georgetown University College Democrats, attended the Women’s March Saturday and said she felt a general mood of civility and respect from the attendees with whom she interacted, particularly when people moved out of the way to make way for a girl who experienced an undisclosed medical emergency.
“One of the greatest things that struck me, besides the sheer enormity of the crowd and the overwhelming feeling of affirmation and inclusion, was the sense of civility, politeness and genuine kindness that pervaded the crowd,” Forsyth wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Caroline Wohl, the director of external affairs for the Georgetown University College Republicans, said her inauguration experience was more confrontational when compared to the Women’s March.
“I got into a small argument with someone near me when they were booing certain speeches that I was trying to listen to, and I politely asked if they could stop booing in my ear, and I was told to go back with all the liberal protestors,” Wohl said. “It speaks to the larger picture of how divisive our politics are and how that trickles down into people who aren’t the most politically minded but had strong feelings about this year’s election.”
Wohl also said she attributed the tenser mood of the inauguration to the more diverse political makeup of the crowd.
“At the inauguration, you had people who were very much for President Trump or people who were really passive or against,” Wohl said. “When you put people into that situation, where it was an emotionally charged election, then there was some butting heads.”
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