The Slatest

Police Arrest More Than 95 as Protests Envelop Pockets of Downtown D.C.

The scene at 12th and L streets NW in downtown D.C.

Christina Cauterucci

This post has been updated; for further updates check Slate’s inauguration live blog.

Washington hasn’t felt like this for a long time.

On Inauguration Day, activists enveloped pockets of downtown D.C. in riotous protests, setting fires, breaking windows, and clashing with police officers, who set off flashbangs, used pepper spray, and, according to CNN, arrested more than 95 people. While most of the demonstrations around the city were peaceful, the destructive demonstrations in the area around Franklin Square escalated as police responded with expanding blockade zones and increasingly martial tactics.

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Reuters says that D.C. police have charged some protesters with rioting. Police claimed to the wire service that police vehicles were damaged and two officers sustained minor injuries. Here’s video from Slate’s Aymann Ismail:

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In the morning, some activists shut down several checkpoints for crowds trying to enter the National Mall. In Dupont Circle, pro-legalization activists handed out joints and peaceful activists made their way around the city streets. Around Franklin Square, police contained a group of protesters after several acts of destruction, including broken windows at a Starbucks, a smashed bus shelter, and—seriously, protesters?—a flaming Washington City Paper newspaper bin.

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By around 11:20 a.m., police had amassed near a group of protesters at 12th and L streets NW and were blocking reporters from getting too close. “Preserve the Constitution, and free our friends,” activists outside the blockade chanted. And also: “don’t hurt them!” And also, at the reporters in the vicinity: “Fuck the corporate media!” Around 11:35, a police officer whipped out his extendable baton with a flourish, as if it were a lightsaber.

And as several reporters tweeted, police who were attempting to clear the area broke out the pepper spray and detained some protesters:

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And a few blocks to the east, here was a protest making its way out of D.C.’s Chinatown:

Here’s more video from Aymann Ismail of the police around 12th and L, where one apparently injured protester was wheeled out on a stretcher:

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Police allegedly arrested everyone inside the blockade, including protesters’ lawyers and members of the press. When a Slate reporter’s bicycle ended up on the wrong side of the blockade as the police perimeter expanded, the officers wouldn’t let her through to retrieve it.

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As police in riot gear moved to break up the growing crowd of people gathering to protest the detainment and arrest of the others, officers deployed what looked like pepper spray at individual protesters and entire groups of people.

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This post is being updated.

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