Anti-Trump protests break out across D.C.

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People rally against U.S. president-elect Donald Trump outside Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Yang - RTSWCWM

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JUDY WOODRUFF: As we heard, there were vocal opponents of the president, thousands of them, protesting across Washington throughout the day. Most of them were peaceful.

But a number of incidents turned violent late this afternoon. A limousine was set on fire downtown. Smoke could be seen for blocks away. And protesters hurled trash cans, flash bombs and objects at police, who used pepper spray in return.

By this evening, at least 217 people were arrested. Six police officers were injured.

Jeffrey Brown and our team have been out on the streets all day.

Here’s what they saw.

PROTESTERS: Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!

JEFFREY BROWN: It was a disparate group of protesters coming together to march, express their resistance to the new administration, and air their anger at what some see as an illegitimate president.

WOMAN: I couldn’t just sit at home and let this be — like, Trump’s administration be normalized.

JEFFREY BROWN: Robby Diesu is an organizer of one of the lead umbrella groups called DisruptJ20, Inauguration Day.

ROBBY DIESU, DisruptJ20: Our goal is to disrupt it, just like our name says. And we have definitely been disrupting it all day.

JEFFREY BROWN: Disrupting, but in a few moments from now when we’re talking, Donald Trump will be president.

ROBBY DIESU: Yes, but we were not under impression that we would stop him from becoming president. The point is to set a tone of resistance from the first moment that he is in office.

JEFFREY BROWN: One act of disruption, at security checkpoints leading into the National Mall, demonstrators attempted to block access to the inauguration, chaining themselves together and refusing to move.

In another, protesters shut down part of a major highway near the Capitol.

McPherson Square in downtown Washington, D.C., has been ground zero for protesters all day. From here, different groups have fanned out around the city, some marching peacefully, others more violent.

At times, the peaceful burst into the violent. After a tense standoff at 12th and K Streets, police used pepper spray and flash grenades to disperse the crowd. Elsewhere, protesters dressed in black threw rocks and flash bombs and smashed windows, leading to more confrontations, injuries and arrests.

These demonstrators used tactics associated with so-called black bloc anarchist groups, long prevalent in Europe, often seizing the moment amid more peaceful protests.

This afternoon, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement: “Again, I respect your right to peacefully protest, but the damage that has occurred today is unacceptable and not welcome in D.C.”

For most who came out, though, today was a day to come together and plan for the future.

I spoke with this couple who came from New Hampshire.

WOMAN: There’s a lot of folks feel like they are not heard, that they are not represented, that they — their voices do not matter any way, shape, and/or form.

And it’s just reminding folks that even though the — he is president — we respect that fact, because that fact is a fact — that that doesn’t mean that, over the next eight — four to eight years, whatever ends up happening, that those voices won’t matter, that those voices will not be a part of the conversation, that those thoughts and those opinions will not be a part of the conversation.

I just wanted to make it a point to say that they will.

JEFFREY BROWN: The National Park Service gave out 22 permits for First Amendment events, considerably more than in previous inaugurations, when some half-dozen were requested.

More than 3,000 police and 5,000 National Guard were on hand, and security expenses for the day are expected to exceed $100 million.

Protests today also occurred well beyond Washington, from marches in Denver to across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and around the world. In London, demonstrators unfurled banners from bridges with messages for the new president, among them, to build bridges, not walls.

In Tokyo, hundreds of people, most of them women, marched in the streets in protest of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Jeff joins me now. He’s still in downtown Washington.

Jeff, you have been there all day. Where do things stand right now?

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, I mean, you can hear all around me sirens in one corner, a band playing in another corner, police off right behind me.

It’s been a very unusual day here, Judy, in Washington. And it is an extremely unusual evening. It’s calmer right now than it was. I’m standing actually right at the spot. We’re right outside The Washington Post.

This is where that limousine, that car was set on fire that you showed the — our audience the video of from a little earlier. It’s a little calmer now. There is a very large security presence now. There is more protesters down at the other end.

And, actually, I see some flames right there, but I don’t think that’s a major fire at the moment, but we will watch that. It’s a little calmer, but — and we have been told that, for most part, at least the main coalition groups are not planning any more activities tonight, but maybe these smaller groups that caused more of the trouble.

And the thinking really is that it is these smaller groups that have caused most of the trouble. You don’t quite know what’s going to happen with them later on, but, for the most part, I think we may have seen — it’s a little calmer now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In just a few seconds, Jeff, we saw you talking to some of the protesters. Do you get the sense that they feel their message is being heard?

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Judy, I think it’s more about — and I was listening to the conversation you were just having.

I think it’s more about what’s next. You know, where do they go from here? They wanted to make sure that they were here, that they were showing that they exist, that they have a message, and that they can press things ahead. And it was about meeting people and speaking up and sort of organizing to see where they go from here.

But I think that, of course — just as you were saying with the guests earlier, that’s really the big question for the people on the streets as well: What’s next?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeffrey Brown out on the streets all day long for the NewsHour, thank you.

JEFFREY BROWN: All day, Judy.

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF: Really fine reporting. We thank you.

JEFFREY BROWN: Thanks.

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