As Donald J. Trump laid his hand on the Bible to be sworn in as President on January 20, 2017, the streets of Washington, D.C. were alight with revolutionary fire. Hundreds of protestors had flooded the capital that day as part of a coordinated action called by a coalition of local leftist and radical organizations, who all came together under the DisruptJ20 banner. It was no peaceful protest.
A black bloc — an anti-fascist street tactic wherein participants wear masks to disguise their identities for the purposes of safety and crowd cover — of several hundred people took to the streets around 10AM that morning and claimed the city as their own, against the rising tide of white nationalism and nascent fascism that Trump’s inauguration symbolized. Some participants smashed windows, indulged in the judicious use of spray-paint, and set a limo on fire; the police reacted quickly and violently, lobbing flashbang grenades and filling the air with pepper spray. In the end, more than 200 people — including journalists and passersby — were penned into a “kettle,” and prevented from leaving by riot police, who kept them there from mid-morning until nightfall, then arrested them en masse.
It quickly became apparent that this crackdown on public protest was meant to quash dissent, and to reinforce Trump’s “law and order” dictum. But in the end, it only fueled the fire.