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Fortress Washington Girds For Days Of Anti-Trump Protests

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Fortress Washington Girds For Days Of Anti-Trump Protests

Fortress Washington, Anti-Trump Protests

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington will turn into a virtual fortress ahead of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration on Friday as the U.S. capital braces for more than a quarter-million protesters expected during the Republican’s swearing-in.

Police have forecast that some 900,000 people, both supporters and opponents, will flood Washington for the inauguration ceremony, which includes the swearing-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and a parade to the White House along streets thronged with spectators.

Many of those attending will be protesters irate about the New York real estate developer’s demeaning comments about women, immigrants and Muslims, a vow to repeal the sweeping healthcare reform law known as Obamacare and plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

His supporters admire Trump’s experience in business, including as a real estate developer and reality television star, and view him as an outsider and problem-solver.

Outgoing U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said police aim to separate groups to diffuse tensions, similar to last-year’s political conventions.

“The concern is some of these groups are pro-Trump, some of them are con-Trump, and they may not play well together in the same space,” Johnson said on MSNBC on Thursday.

About 28,000 security personnel, miles (kilometers) of fencing, roadblocks, street barricades and dump trucks laden with sand will be part of the security cordon around 3 square miles (almost 8 square km) of central Washington.

About 30 groups that organizers claim will draw about 270,000 protesters or Trump backers have received permits for rallies or marches before, during and after the swearing-in. More protests are expected without permits.

A protest group known as Disrupt J20 has vowed to stage demonstrations at each of 12 security checkpoints and block access to the festivities on the grassy National Mall.


By far the biggest protest will be the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, which organizers expect to draw 250,000 people. Hundreds of Women’s March-related protests are scheduled across the United States and around the world as well.

There will be an anti-Trump protest in New York on Thursday evening when Mayor Bill de Blasio, filmmaker Michael Moore and actors Mark Ruffalo and Alec Baldwin, who portrays Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” take part in a rally outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower.

One Washington protest will come amid a haze of pot smoke as pro-marijuana activists show their opposition to Trump’s choice for attorney general, Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, a critic of pot legalization.

The group plans to distribute 4,200 joints at the inauguration and urge attendees to light up. Possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal in Washington but public consumption is not.

Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said officers were prepared for mass arrests, although authorities hoped that would be unnecessary.

“If we do have a mass arrest, we’ll be able to get people processed very quickly,” he told Washington’s NBC 4 television station.

Police and security officials have pledged to guarantee protesters’ constitutional rights to free speech and peaceable assembly.

Friday’s crowds are expected to be less than the 2 million who attended Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, and in line with the million who were at his second, four years ago.

The inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue will pass the Trump International Hotel, a rallying point for protesters since the election now encircled by security fences.

In a sign of the Trump-related angst gripping Washington, the dean of the Washington National Cathedral said this week its choir would sing “God Bless America” at the inauguration despite misgivings by some members.

“Let me be clear: We are not singing for the President. We are singing for God because that is what church choirs do,” the Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith said in a letter.

Trump will attend an interfaith prayer service at the cathedral on Saturday, closing out the inaugural ceremonies.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)

IMAGE: Chain link fencing is up around the Washington Monument as a security measure in the days prior to Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler



  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 19, 2017

    An expression I often heard by many church goers in the Black community in Jackson, Miss. was this “God works in mysterious ways”. Baha’u’llah, Muhammad, Moses, Abraham, Zoroaster, Black Elk express the same theme in different ways—Krishna and Buddha don’t express “God” in the same way as other Revelations from this Unknowable Essence, but nevertheless express the same awe and mystery.

    One mysterious working has been a culmination of social forces and trends, some violent and tragic, others less so. Altogether, they’ve been preparing humanity for the eventuality of this Era—an era now trying to reconcile a coming together of disparate members of the human family after migrating across the planet assuming different skin colors, cultural norms, languages, differing degrees of technology and innovations. The Age of Discovery, the Industrial Revolution, and the Space Age have made it possible for these “cousins” scattered across the globe to being interacting more closely than ever possible before. The result is a tension due to economy, racialism, ethnic biases, religious intolerance, discomfort with different languages, and general physical appearances and tribal/class affiliations.

    Trump represents a large and gross iconic image of the dark side of this tension and its multifaceted dimensions, and a majority of people are repelled by what they see of themselves as reflected in Trump and the ascendancy of one’s lower half over our higher nature. And now, Destiny has allowed for Trump, the US’s antiquated electoral system, and an equally deficient form of governance to enable him to ascend to a position that forces us to reflect on who we are, where we originated from, how we got to where we are on the globe today, and to what extent our ability to interact and coexist has broken down beyond the repair of any extant social/religious/political systems that came into being prior to May 23, 1844. (Many other new agencies have evolved since 5/23/1844, but they’re just extensions of what came prior).

    So, we have this mysterious process leading us to Jan 20, 2017. How will we respond to the exigencies presented by the rise of nationalism, nativism, religious fanaticism, cyber-war, nuclear armaments, racialism, ongoing gender oppression, and economic’political extremes and extremist tendencies? Clearly, a new paradigm expressing our purpose on the planet is required to search out and investigate.

    1. Thoughtopsy January 19, 2017

      Douchezilla: “The Reality of Trump has crushed my excitement. Now I just post other people’s memes. Also: I’m an Otto sockpuppet.”


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