WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated against the rise of billionaire Donald Trump to become the 45th president with flashes of violence mixed with anger and frustration.
A few clashes at nearly 30 demonstrations left two police officers injured and 217 people arrested, according to the District of Columbia police and fire departments. No one was seriously injured in the incidents, which included a limousine set on fire and rocks and bottles thrown at police who resorted to smoke and flash-bang devices to disperse the crowds.
The flashpoints were a mile from the National Mall and the peaceful protests. Police chased about 100 people who they said shattered storefront windows in a melee not connected to the organized demonstrations. Police in black riot gear used pepper spray to cordon off 12th and L streets blocks away from the organized protests.
Some of the demonstrators taunted police and shouted, “Put the pigs in the ground,” according to The Associated Press. One said the demonstrators were “bringing in the cavalry” and threw bricks and concrete chunks at police.
A half-dozen blocks away, more than 1,000 demonstrators at the Navy Memorial held an array of signs including: “Trump team set to dismantle hope.”
“Donald Trump, whose campaign was run on hate speech, is so divisive,” said Mustafa Ozkan, 34, of Sarasota, Florida. “That won’t bring people together.”
Eugene Puryear was one of thousands of demonstrators to take to the streets before 5 a.m.
“I want to be here because of all of Donald Trump’s anti-worker, bigoted policies,” said Puryear, 30, an African-American podcaster from Washington. “I think they deserve to be stood up to.”
As Dawn Gaither held a sign asking, “What have we done?” with an image of the Statue of Liberty, she was heckled by passing Trump supporters.
“You lost, we won! Boohoo,” said a young woman in a group wearing red “Make America Great” caps.
“God bless you,” Gaither, a Harlem-born Washington resident, said without sarcasm.
“There is a new ugliness,” said Gaither, 57, a former lawyer who now teaches Immigrants English.
As Trump was beginning his inaugural address, many of the protesters who had gathered in front of Union Station began marching down Massachusetts Avenue and Third Street. The march stopped traffic at several points, with participants shouting “No Trump!”
The protesters represented a wide swath of progressive causes, from LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter and socialist causes.
Shortly before 3 p.m., other protesters, many with scarves over their noses and mouths in the wake of police deploying tear gas, lined up against the wall of officers in riot gear along 12th Street, just off the parade route.
Protesters and an Associated Press photographer say police fired rubber projectiles at them during the demonstrations in downtown Washington, according to The Associated Press.
An AP photographer says he was hit three times by projectiles — once on his left shin and twice on his right — while covering demonstrations Friday.
As some protesters shouted down the stone-faced officers, others watched with a sense that they were seeing history repeat itself.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been face-to-face with police in riot gear,” said Nina Beck, 61, who came from Vermont to join the marches Friday and Saturday. “It feels very reminiscent of what we went through during the Vietnam War.”
Beck said Trump’s election felt like a call to action much like the resistance to the war in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
“It’s our right to protest, because we don’t like what the country is going through right now,” Beck said.