On Inauguration Day, Donald Trump’s swearing-in oath went off without a hitch. Yet blocks away from the spectating crowd (the size of which has become a silly Trump obsession), thousands of protesters demonstrated peacefully. A smaller contingent of protesters clashed violently with police as law enforcement aimed to keep them away from Trump’s parade route.
Police arrested at least 230 people, and by Saturday evening, 80 protesters were charged with hearings continuing throughout. Many of them are now facing “felony rioting” charges that carry up to 10 years in prison. As Buzzfeed reported from the courtroom, prosecutors hope to eventually charge the entire group, which includes at least one journalist who was covering the protests. Felony rioting is defined by the DC code as follows:
“A riot in the District of Columbia is a public disturbance involving an assemblage of 5 or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct or the threat thereof creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons … if in the course and as a result of a riot a person suffers serious bodily harm or there is property damage in excess of $5,000, every person who willfully incited or urged others to engage in the riot shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 10 years.”
In addition to the prison penalty, anyone who’s convicted of felony rioting could be fined $25,000. Those who were arrested were first met by police with pepper spray, water hoses, and flash bangs. Although the timeline is disputable, many within the group of arrested protesters smashed windows of nearby Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Bank of America locations, as this video shows.
— CNN (@CNN) January 20, 2017
Two officers were also injured during the clashes, which saw police tear gassing and pepper spraying entire groups of people. In this video, an elderly woman crumbles after being sprayed in the face.
— Wilson Dizard (@willdizard) January 20, 2017
Matt Pearce of the LA Times posted a batch of stunning photos from D.C. as the protests happened.