DAVID DOUGHERTY: Multitudes of Donald Trump supporters, anti-Trump protesters and police, began gathering in downtown Washington, D.C., in the early morning hours of January 20th, 2017, Inauguration Day.
CROWD: Racists, fascists, go away, no Trump! No…
DAVID DOUGHERTY: We’re here in downtown Washington, D.C., with The Real News Network, where we are going to speak with some of the tens of thousands of people who have gathered today for the inauguration of Donald Trump. We’re going to speak with some demonstrators, as well as some Trump supporters, to get a better idea of what’s going on, on the ground today on Inauguration Day.
CROWD: Say it loud! Say it clear! Refugees are welcome here! … never be defeated! The people…
CHARLES LENCHNER: The electoral process for 2016 is over, as corrupt and terrible as it was. But it did successfully mobilize millions of citizens, many for the first time, to participate in a powerful movement for change in this country.
DAVID DOUGHERTY: Charles Lenchner is a Co-Founder of People for Bernie, a grassroots organization that supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election. He also participated in the J20 protest activities on inauguration day.
CHARLES LENCHNER: What I’m seeing is that many of these people are funneling themselves in to other organizations, many of them new efforts, to continue to this resistance to the 1%, to the power of corporations in this country, and the way it’s happening is extremely organic.
DAVID DOUGHERTY: The J20 protesters, named after the January 20th inauguration date, began assembling near checkpoints where spectators, and Donald Trump supporters, like Tracy Crow(?), waited in long lines to enter the security perimeter established along the presidential parade route.
TRACY CROW(?): More power to them. I mean, everybody… if you feel like protesting, please do. And that’s why we all went and voted. That’s why we all state how we feel. That’s why I’m stating what I feel right now. If you feel like he’s not the man for the job, then you should step up and say so.
WOMAN: You realize you got cameras on you?
DAVID DOUGHERTY: But tensions later erupted between Trump supporters, and demonstrators, who established blockades at parade entrances as part of a strategy of peaceful disruptive protests. One of the larger J20 groups was the Black Lives Matter bloc.
CROWD: … this checkpoint is closed…
MAN: This checkpoint is closed. It’s not gonna open.
DAVID DOUGHERTY: Why are you guys closing the checkpoint today?
MAN: We’re standing up against fascism, racism, the Klan, neo-Nazis, alt-right. We’re standing up against it today.
DAVID DOUGHERTY: Physical confrontations became more and more numerous, as individual Trump supporters attempted to break through the demonstrators’ blockade. Among those present was right-wing political commentator Alex Jones.
ALEX JONES: Those people are the fascist, brainwashed, Brownshirts over there. They are the people that are like Nazis. Total cowardice, total scum. That’s why they’re associated with the Islamists and Jihad bombers, and all of it; they target women and children. It is…
DAVID DOUGHERTY: For demonstrators like Rosa Lozano of the Nehente(?) organization, the non-violent direct action tactics of the demonstrators were meant to send a message to President Donald Trump and supporters.
ROSA LOZANO: Today’s the transfer of power, right. So, today is when Trump actually takes office and so, for us, it’s important that he and those that support him understand that it’s going to be a long four years of resistance, against anything that he or the folks that he chooses to make decisions for our country, are going to face.
DAVID DOUGHERTY: Tensions continued to escalate into the afternoon, with riot police and tear gas deployed against demonstrators, that included a separate, and reportedly violent, group of protesters that some identified as the Black Bloc. As of publishing time, there were more than 200 arrests reported. Reporting from Washington, D.C., I am David Dougherty with The Real News Network.