WASHINGTON—Verbal spats broke out between protesters and Donald Trump supporters during inauguration day demonstrations that cropped up Friday afternoon in downtown Washington, D.C.
On the corner of Lafayette Square, a middle-aged woman wearing a knitted, magenta “pussyhat“—a symbol of the Women’s March on Washington scheduled for Saturday—squared off with another woman her age decked out in an American flag scarf and camouflage hat.
“Why are you all attacking us? Why are you out here with these signs calling us racist?” the Trump supporter said.
The hat-adorned woman raised her hands to show her lack of signs.
“We’re allowed to protest. It’s a free country,” she said.
“Whatever medication y’all are on, I don’t want any,” the other woman replied. “You’re an embarrassment. I’m not ashamed to be white.”
A group of protesters walking by sniggered.
Down the block, a demonstrator with a black mask over his face dragged a barricade into the street, blocking two lanes of traffic. Two young men in fleeces promptly walked over and pulled it back to the curb.
The men got in each other’s faces and a crowd quickly formed around them, making the scene resemble a schoolyard fight.
“Traffic control is a job for the police,” one of the young men said. “What are you trying to accomplish here, buddy?”
Another protester stepped in to say it was the masked demonstrator’s First Amendment right to block the street.
“Obstructing traffic is not anyone’s First Amendment right,” the young man shot back.
“Don’t be a hero,” a middle-aged black man holding his young daughter’s hand said to him.
The masked protester and vocal Trump supporter shoved each other in the chest, speaking inches away from each other’s faces, but backed down after several minutes of cajoling from the other demonstrators.
Each side seemed to treat the other as a curiosity. On Massachusetts Avenue and 13 Street, a young, diverse group sat in a circle blocking traffic and chanting.
As they yelled “This is what democracy looks like,” a group of young men in blue Trump beanies walking by broke into laughter.
Buttoned-up young men survey the scene on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown, D.C., where protesters temporarily blocked traffic.
Trump supporters and demonstrators alike fed off the tense energy of the crowd, walking from corner to corner looking for hints of action.
Late in the afternoon, a limo that had stood with its windows smashed in on the corner of Franklin Square for hours was set on fire. The crowd rushed towards the conflagration until clouds of thick black smoke and the scent of burning rubber drove them backward.
“It’s a party and everyone’s invited,” a protester whose face was obscured by a yellow balaclava said to two teenagers in full suits sitting on a nearby curb.
“Yeah, we’ll be there, man,” one cracked in response.
“It’s official, shit’s crazy,” the protester said into a megaphone as he walked away.