Inauguration protests turn violent, car torched
Friday Inauguration Day protests turned violent late as spectators reported being attacked and a police official said demonstrators were vandalizing property and even torched a car.
Amid reports that demonstrators were smashing windows, including at a local McDonald’s, the police official confirmed protesters “have crow bars and are vandalizing.”
At one security checkpoint near the Capitol that was shut down for hours earlier Friday morning due to protesters, a couple from Kansas also told FoxNews.com they were attacked by demonstrators.
Celeste Sollars, who said she and her husband came to town from Kansas to see the inauguration, said they were spit on and her husband was put in a chokehold by protesters.
“The cops wouldn’t do anything,” she said, crying. “This is not how it was supposed to be — assault is not a First Amendment right.”
This comes after protesters from Black Lives Matter and other groups forced the shutdown early Friday morning of at least two inauguration security checkpoints, including the one where Sollars said she was attacked — as demonstrators followed through on threats to disrupt President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural ceremonies.
The Black Lives Matter protesters at first started chaining themselves to fences in front of a checkpoint near the Capitol, after which the Secret Service closed the gates and shut down the entrance.
“We are here to let people know this presidency is not legit. It goes against hundreds of years of democracy — black lives matter,” BLM DC’s Tracye Redd told FoxNews.com.
At one point, the activists repeated the cry, “Shut it down!”
Officers afterward directed spectators to other entrances, though both checkpoints were later reopened. The efforts were part of an operation apparently under the umbrella of DisruptJ20, which vowed to blockade and shut down security checkpoints.
The incidents come as Trump protesters and supporters alike descend on downtown Washington for the inauguration.
“I’m here to join Bikers for Trump,” said Bill McCann, who rode his motorcycle to the nation’s capital from Fort Worth, Texas. “Ever since Mr. Trump announced his candidacy, I’ve supported him 100 percent.”
McCann spoke under the light of the Capitol Rotunda as protesters with the anti-war group Jewish Voice for Peace rallied just blocks away, amid a heavy police presence.
“We’re here to say that whoever is president, ‘No more war,’ ” said Naomi Dann, of Brooklyn. “The incoming president hasn’t said whether he’s a pacifist, but I’m pretty sure he’s not.”
Dann said her concerns and those of other group members include “targeting Muslims” and increased surveillance.
“A lot of people are angry,” she said.
An estimated 800,000 people are expected in Washington for Inauguration Day, including tens of thousands of protesters.
Protesters at one checkpoint near the Inaugural Parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue before sunrise Friday had already tried to block a checkpoint by sitting in the streets. Police lifted them over a barricade, but no arrests were made.
On Thursday night, Trump supporters attending the “Deploraball” at the National Press Club Building, just blocks from the White House, were met by hundreds of protesters. Some sprayed Mace, and a passerby with a gash on his head said he was struck by a bottle that was thrown.