Fortress Washington braces for anti-Trump protests
Washington turned into a virtual fortress on Thursday ahead of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, with police ready to step in to separate protesters from Trump supporters at any sign of unrest.
Some 900,000 people, both Trump backers and opponents, are expected to flood Washington for Friday's inauguration ceremony, according to organizers' estimates. Events include the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and a parade to the White House along streets thronged with spectators.
The number of planned protests and rallies this year is far above what has been typical at recent presidential inaugurations, with some 30 permits granted in Washington for anti-Trump rallies and sympathy protests planned in cities from Boston to Los Angeles, and abroad in cities including London and Sydney.
The night before the inauguration, hundreds of people turned out in New York for a protest at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, a few blocks from the Trump Tower where the businessman lives.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and actor Alec Baldwin, who parodies Trump on "Saturday Night Live" were set to speak at a rally condemning Trump's policies.
In Washington, police cars lined much of Pennsylvania Avenue, the parade route, as workers unloaded crowd control fences from flatbed trucks, erected barricades and marked off pavement with tape.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said police aimed to keep groups separate, using tactics similar to those employed during 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.
Trump opponents have been angered by his comments during the campaign about women, illegal immigrants and Muslims and his pledges to scrap the Obamacare health reform and build a wall on the Mexican border.
About 28,000 security personnel, miles of fencing, roadblocks, street barricades and dump trucks laden with sand are part of the security cordon around 3 square miles (almost 8 square km) of central Washington.
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.
As I write this, I am on my way to Washington DC to join with other Oath Keeper military and police veterans to carry out our Operation DefendJ20, to protect American patriots from violent “anarchists” and communists (really the same thing) who have vowed to disrupt the inauguration of our 45th President, Donald J. Trump, and to assault attendees. We held a national leadership call last night and worked out the final operational details. We consider it an honor to have this opportunity to step up, once again, and do our part to keep people safe as they exercise their constitutionally protected rights of free speech and assembly.
Please pray for the safety of all involved, and for a peaceful and smooth Inauguration. And please say a prayer for our nation, that this will mark the turning of the tide, and the start of a true restoration of the Founder’s Republic. As SGM Santoro posted on the Colorado Oath Keepers page:
I want to point out that we have NOT won the war. We have only won a battle. This is going to be like a long distance race. The finish line is a long way away so pace yourselves. Always take care of family first and then take care of Oath Keepers next.
Exactly. The defeat of Hillary was incredibly important (we dodged a deadly bullet there) but it was only one victorious battle, not the winning of the war, and the domestic enemies of the Constitution are like a hydra with many heads that keep popping back up. Prepare yourselves, for the real work has only begun. If you are not yet a member, now would be a good time to join the team (whether prior service or not, you are welcome!). We are all in this together, and many hands make light work.
All Oath Keepers who will join us on this mission, please watch this interview with Renn at the WWII Memorial in 2013. And reflect that whatever we have to do to restore the Republic pales in comparison to what Renn and his buddies went through. Let’s make sure it was not all for nothing. The torch of liberty has been passed to us. Let us guard it well.
The Russian leader also called the allegations that Moscow might have blackmail material on the US president-elect “evidently fake.”
“When Trump visited Moscow several years ago, he wasn’t a political figure. We didn’t even know about his political ambitions, he was just a businessman, one of America’s richest people. So does someone think that our intelligence services go after each American billionaire? Of course not, it’s complete rubbish,” Putin said.