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General News    H3'ed 1/22/17

Heavy Protests Mark Start Of Trump Presidency

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#OccupyJ20 protesters
#OccupyJ20 protesters
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With homemade signs, banners and even locks and chains, thousands of protesters descended on Friday's inauguration of Donald Trump. In modern times, no one so disliked has ascended to the nation's highest office. Tens of thousands more are expected to rally Saturday.

During the campaign, Trump played footsie with white supremacists, called for a ban on Muslims and described Latinos as criminals and rapists. Since Trump's upset victory in November -- in which he received nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, Hillary Clinton -- he's tweeted and attacked, but done little to bring the country together.

Trump recently went after John Lewis, a civil rights leader and congressman who questioned the legitimacy of his presidency. Lewis, along with around 60 other congress members -- all Democrats, many African American and Latino -- boycotted the inauguration.

Under the banner #DisruptJ20 (for January 20, the date of the inauguration), activists dedicated to different issues took their message to specific viewing entrances, many attempting to slow or stop supporters from getting inside.

While morning blockades were mostly peaceful, later in the day there were instances of property damage and clashes with police and security personnel, who numbered nearly 30,000.

Labor Blockade

"This is not a normal president, so it shouldn't be a normal inauguration," said Denise Romano, a member of Communications Workers of America. She spoke as union activists linked arms, facing down a line of shield-wielding police at another entrance.

Labor has reason for concern since Trump "stacked his administration with folks who are not shy about privatization," said labor activist Anna Woodbury.

Nowhere is that more clear than with billionaire Betsy DeVos, the nominee for education secretary.

DeVos and her family have spent millions of dollars over several decades to steer public money away from public schools and into charter and religious schools.

"She bought her way to this position," Washington Teachers' Union president Liz Davis said after a rally Thursday. "She represents privatization, school choice, for-profit schools."

For labor secretary, Trump tapped Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's fast food chains.

"He's terrible," said Romano. "He doesn't believe in any sort of minimum wage so why the heck is he the labor secretary?"

Black Lives Matter Blockade

After a short rally in front of the D.C. police department, Black Lives Matter activists made their way to the line into the inauguration.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, white supremacy's got to go," chanted activists, as some pulled out chains, quickly locking themselves across the entrance. They held the space for hours.

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