Inauguration dampened by rain, protests

Marjorie Kirk

Scores of Americans made the pilgrimage to the nation’s capital for Inauguration weekend, but for vastly different reasons. 

200 people were arrested in the political convergence of President Donald Trump’s supporters with protesters Friday, in which crowds were pepper sprayed, hit with flash grenades and tear gassed. 

Though the rain and protests dampened the inauguration celebration, political science junior Lauren Hogan said she was proud to be in the capitol, witnessing an important moment in presidential history. 

“I came to the inauguration because as someone who cares about democracy, I wanted to see the transition of power up close,” Hogan said. “I’ve never been to one before, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Hundreds of thousands of people from around the country watched from the National Mall as Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the U.S. 

“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country, and restore its promise for all of our people,” Trump said. “Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.”

Trump’s speech was critical of the political establishment in Washington D.C., and said politicians had benefited at the expense of the people for years. He promised to give power back to the people, and to put America first. 

The presidential parade that usually follows the swearing-in was cut short. Crowds rallied, marched and protested throughout the K Street area in the afternoon, until they encountered the advancing police barricade at the 12th Street intersection. 

Patrick McGuire, 37, drove from Baltimore to protest the inauguration, and said he was pepper sprayed by officers for the “impeach” sign he held in the crowd that afternoon. 

“I didn’t touch the police officer. I was attacked. I was not forcing a line, I wasn’t doing anything besides apparently scaring him with my sign,” McGuire said. “He was so scared that he fired his pepper spray right at me, and I guess I should be thankful right now that it was pepper spray that was in his hand and not anything else.”

A few protesters smashed and set fire to a stretch limousine outside of The Washington Post offices on K Street. 

The crowds dispersed in sprints prompted by the choking mixture of capsaicin in the smoke cloud, and the sound of marching boots and flash bangs that signaled the approach of the police line. 

Just that morning, hundreds had been singing and chanting peacefully at a rally in McPherson Square, which included guest speakers Michael Moore, representatives from the Black Lives Matter movement and Standing Rock protesters. 

By the afternoon, some had taken to throwing bricks and debris or rolling lit trash cans toward the line of officers. 

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After police pushed protesters back past The Washington Post entrance and firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, the forceful exchanges all but ceased. 

“Today is the day I believe that matters more than anything,” McGuire said. “After today, it’s watching what bills are passed and who’s sponsoring them and making sure that we keep everyone safe.”