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Violence erupted in downtown D.C. today after police and protesters clashed near 12th and K Streets NW, shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump.
I was reporting among the protesters for about two hours before things got nasty—just before 2 p.m. During that time, most everyone was peaceful and respectful. Protesters had gathered at the intersection earlier in the day to corner off a group of about 50 demonstrators who allegedly smashed the windows of businesses near Franklin Square in the morning. Police in riot gear had isolated the group, arresting them one by one, for at least two hours before the violence began. For those two hours, riot police lined the intersection as protesters peacefully chanted, calling for the police to “let them go.”
But when a small group of Trump supporters showed up and started chanting in support of the president, the situation worsened. The first major clash was at the intersection of 12th and L Streets NW. I was standing directly in front of the riot police with a few other journalists. We turned to quickly to see what the commotion was, and within seconds riot police began charging forward with pepper spray and deploying stun grenades left and right.
People ran in terror as police pushed protesters back down 12th Street NW to K Street NW, where a small group of masked demonstrators started pelting them with bricks and other objects. Eventually, police pushed the large crowd back down K Street with pepper spray and flash grenades toward the Washington Post headquarters at 1301 K Street. There, protesters started a large fire in the middle of the street and destroyed several vehicles, including a limousine parked in front of the Post building, before setting it ablaze.
According to NBC Washington,
95 217 protesters have been arrested thus far and at least three six police officers have been injured, but at the time of publishing this post, just after dark, the standoff between police and protesters was ongoing in front of the Post building.