Protests turn peace­ful

Demon­stra­tors de­scend on D.C., but vi­o­lence stays away

The Dallas Morning News - - Na­tion - Peter Jami­son, Perry Stein, Ke­lyn Soong and Maria Sac­chetti, The Wash­ing­ton Post

WASH­ING­TON — With si­mul­ta­ne­ous protests by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sup­port­ers, anti-fas­cist mil­i­tants and the proudly outré fans of the rap-metal band In­sane Clown Posse, Satur­day’s lineup of ral­lies on and around the Mall seemed al­most de­signed to test Amer­i­cans’ ca­pac­ity for peace­able dis­agree­ment.

But as the day pro­gressed and demon­stra­tors of wildly dif­fer­ent ide­o­log­i­cal stripes crowded into down­town Wash­ing­ton, that ideal did not seem so re­mote: By late af­ter­noon, po­lice re­ported no vi­o­lence and said they had not made any ar­rests.

It was a re­lief for au­thor­i­ties in the Dis­trict of Columbia, who had pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­ity of vi­o­lent clashes and taken ex­ten­sive se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions, de­ploy­ing large num­bers of po­lice of­fi­cers and Na­tional Guard mem­bers on the Mall and bar­ri­cad­ing sur­round­ing streets.

Loom­ing large over the day was the specter of Charlottesville, Va., where a white na­tion­al­ist rally just over a month ago de­scended into a deadly riot. Po­lice in the Vir­ginia col­lege town were later faulted for not re­act­ing swiftly or force­fully enough to the vi­o­lence.

But the pro­test­ers in Wash­ing­ton, un­like those in Charlottesville, did not show up armed with shields, clubs and guns, and they even im­plored one an­other at times to avoid brawl­ing.

“Po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence hap­pens in Rus­sia, in Iran, in North Korea. It’s not sup­posed to hap­pen here,” said Tommy Hodges, an or­ga­nizer of the so­called Mother of All Ral­lies at­tended by Trump sup­port­ers.

“You should be able to say what­ever you want with­out some­one rais­ing a fist against you.”

Ad­dress­ing a crowd of a few hun­dred near the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment shortly be­fore noon, Hodges pleaded for a peace­ful gath­er­ing and asked his au­di­ence to “shake the hand of the per­son next to you.”

Stand­ing in front of the White House at about the same time, Daniel Ward, a Marine vet­eran and Demo­crat run­ning for Con­gress in Vir­ginia’s 7th Dis­trict, said he had been in his home­town of Charlottesville dur­ing the riot Aug. 12.

He said the vi­o­lence — which cul­mi­nated with a car that au­thor­i­ties said was driven by a man with white-su­prem­a­cist ties plow­ing into a crowd, killing one and in­jur­ing 19 — re­minded him of clashes be­tween pro- and anti-Russian forces he had seen while serv­ing in Ukraine.

“It was Charlottesville, not Ukraine,” he said.

“And that’s not OK.”

Ward took part in a march of sev­eral dozen peo­ple from the White House to the Russian am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence on 16th Street, an el­e­gant Beaux-Arts build­ing where sur­veil­lance cameras looked down on a crowd that booed and shouted “Nyet!”

The march, in­tended to protest Russian interference in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, broke up peace­fully.

Sev­eral hun­dred Jug­ga­los, as fans of In­sane Clown Posse call them­selves, gath­ered at the Lin­coln Memo­rial.

They were protest­ing their des­ig­na­tion as a crim­i­nal gang by the FBI, and some said they were un­in­ter­ested in the left-right po­lit­i­cal di­vide on dis­play at Satur­day’s other demon­stra­tions.

Justin Thompson, a 24-year-old fac­tory worker from a Detroit sub­urb, said he had driven to Wash­ing­ton in his pickup to show Jug­ga­los “are just like ev­ery­body else.”

“We go to work. We pull our 9-to5s,” he said. “We take care of our kids and ev­ery­thing else.”

“Po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence hap­pens in Rus­sia, in Iran, in North Korea. It’s not sup­posed to hap­pen here. You should be able to say what­ever you want with­out some­one rais­ing a fist against you.”

Tommy Hodges, an or­ga­nizer of the so-called Mother of All Ral­lies

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press

The Jug­ga­los, as fans of the rap-rock group the In­sane Clown Posse call them­selves, demon­strated Satur­day on the Na­tional Mall. They are up­set with the FBI for clas­si­fy­ing them as a gang.

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