January 20, 2005 counter-inaugural protest

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File:J20 coffin dc.jpg
Anti-war protesters carrying coffins at the counter-inaugural protest in Washington, D.C.

The January 20, 2005 counter-inaugural protests were a large number of demonstrations held in Washington, D.C. and other American cities to protest the second inauguration of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Rally at Malcolm X Park

File:J20 pepper2 dc.jpg
Police pepper spraying protesters at Bush's 2nd inauguration, Washington, DC.

The DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) sponsored a mass rally and march at Malcolm X Park (Meridian Hill Park) to protest the inauguration of President George W. Bush. Following a number of speeches, the group marched south on 16th Street NW and east on H Street NW to McPherson Square.

Speakers included:


A separate-but-related event, also sponsored by DAWN, was a civil disobedience die-in. Waiting thirty minutes after the last participants in the main march had left Malcolm X Park, a smaller group marched from Malcolm X Park to Lafayette Square. There, a security perimeter inhibited further southbound progress. With the intention of being quickly arrested, 17 people laid down on the street in front of Lafayette Square. Police did not arrest the die-in participants, leaving them to lie on the street for three and a half hours until they left on their own.[1][2]

Protest Warrior confrontation

File:Destroyed Protest Warrior Signs.jpg
Protest Warrior signs lay on the ground after having been destroyed during the confrontation.

During the rally at Malcolm X Park, members of the Protest Warrior group, several rally participants, and DAWN marshals got into a confrontation. According to Indymedia sources, "Toward the end of the rally, when there were at least 10,000 people in the park, a Protest Warrior led a few 20-something conservative college kids into, (in their own words) 'the belly of the beast' to systematically seek out 'black-block' anarchists among the mass of peaceful demonstrators and flaunt their pro-Bush war signs in order to instigate a conflict."

Several activists assaulted Gil Kobrin, leader of the Protest Warrior contingent at the protest. According to Kobrin, "A heavy-set black man in a trench coat patted his left lapel, muttering something about a pipe. When he saw that we weren't leaving, he made a grab for one of our signs. I stepped in to get between him and the Protest Warrior, and was tripped by one of the anarchists. At that moment, all hell broke loose... As I struggled to get up in the slippery snow, two anarchists began kicking me in the back; Protest Warriors were being shoved and punched all around me." It appears that there is no evidence to support the claim that Protest Warrior "sought out" a particular faction within the DAWN rally. The fact that DAWN marshals agreed to allow the Protest Warriors to stay prior to the violent outbreak appears to indicate that Protest Warriors' presence was not apparently provocative; in Kobrin's recollection, "I remembered [incidents at] the RNC, and was not looking forward to a repeat of the violence there."

Mitch Potts, one of the DAWN marshals, attempted to mediate the conflict and seek a peaceful resolution. Another DAWN marshal told the Protest Warriors that DAWN had a permit to peacefully assemble in the park, and that the Protest Warriors could not stay if they were going to disrupt that peace. Potts then offered to safely escort the Protest Warriors out of the park, and arranged a place for them on 16th Street along the march route.[3][4][5]

Black Bloc breakaway march

At 16th and P Streets NW, a group of roughly 1,000 people separated from the main march. The group primarily consisted of participants in the black bloc, but also contained "drummers, radical cheerleaders, and belly dancers". This group marched through the streets, ending up at the security checkpoint set up at 7th and D Streets NW. Here, the police and the demonstrators got into a conflict, and the police pepper sprayed and beat several demonstrators.[6][7][8]

Parade route

ANSWER Coalition had secured a permit for a protest along the Parade Route, to be held at 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Due to security procedures in place, signs could only be made of cardboard, posterboard, or cloth, and could be no larger than three feet by 20 feet, and one quarter inch thickness.[9] According to the ANSWER Coalition, over 10,000 antiwar protested at A.N.S.W.E.R. Mass Convergence site on Inaugural Parade route between 3rd & 4th St. on Pennsylvania Ave. Thousands of other protesters were blocked at Secret Service Checkpoints.[10]

In one demonstration, called Turn Your Back on Bush, unmarked protesters lined the parade route and turned their backs when the presidential motorcade passed by. According to the organizer's Web site, over 5,000 people from 41 states participated in this demonstration.[citation needed]

Critical Mass at Dupont Circle

At 4:00 PM, all who had participated in other demonstrations earlier in the day were invited to Dupont Circle for a "Mass Re-meet" at Dupont Circle. Hot food and drinks were provided for participants.[11] A Critical Mass bicycle ride started here at the same time, and in addition, a group marched back into downtown Washington DC from here. The Black Bloc made a good showing here as well, congregating near the center of the circle. Police, who arrived after the event had already begun, parked their motorcycles across the street from Dupont Circle. Additionally, a number of people remained at Dupont Circle for some time after the Critical Mass riders had left, and after the marchers left.

Demonstrations outside inaugural balls

File:Union Station Inaugural Ball Protest.jpg
A masked woman holds a black flag in front of Union Station, site of the Freedom Ball.

As daylight turned into evening, the official inaugural celebrations were convening at the Washington Convention Center, the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, the Washington Hilton, the National Building Museum, and Union Station.[12]

Outside Union Station, where the Freedom Ball was being held, a group organized by Code Pink was outside demonstrating. The group outside Union Station was composed of many individuals seen at other counter-inaugural events earlier in the day, and the mood was initially festive. As participants in the inaugural balls arrived to enter, demonstrators would chant, "SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!" at them. Some demonstrators also shouted, "TOGA! TOGA!" at some of the participants, poking fun at the movie Animal House. There were several confrontations between ball participants and demonstrators, including one where a demonstrator and a participant got into a fight. In the end, the ball participant was admitted to the event, and the demonstrator was detained but was not arrested and let go minutes later.[13]

March through Adams Morgan neighborhood

Following the counter-inaugural ball, a group marched through the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington in an impromptu protest headed for one of the inaugural ball sites at the Washington Hilton Hotel. A few of the marchers wore masks and carried torches. A handful spray-painted buildings with the anarchist symbol and broke windows of a police car and a bank. A police roadblock directed the group into a maze of alleys where officers rounded up about six dozen marchers who were not engaged in vandalism; they were pepper-sprayed, detained, and jailed overnight. Charges were later dropped. A police report described the event.[14] Lawyers from the ACLU and the law firms Gaffney & Schember and Kirkland & Ellis represented the group in a class-action lawsuit[15] filed against the District of Columbia.[16] On August 1, 2011, Judge Ellen Huvelle of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia gave final approval for a settlement in which the District of Columbia agreed to pay $250,000 and expunge the arrest records of a class of about 70 people.[17]

Demonstrations in other cities

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bus from Kent to DC for Counter-Inauguration, Cleveland Indymedia, January 4, 2005
  2. The 2005 Counter-Inaugural Protests, JoFreeman.com
  3. Protest Warriors instigate at DAWN J20 rally then spread propaganda, Mitch Potts, DC Indymedia, February 12, 2005
  4. Protesting the Protesters, Robert MacMillan, The Washington Post, January 20, 2005
  5. Hail to the Chief, Gil Kobrin, Protest Warrior, January 20, 2005
  6. January 20th: The People Say NO to Bush (PDF), NewPeople, Thomas Merton Center, February 2005
  7. Darby & DC Radio Co-op [1], Police beat, pepper-spray anarchist march.
  8. Rex, Sasha, ed. Reflections on J20
  9. Converge at 4th St. & Pennsylvania Ave. on the north side of the parade route, ANSWER Coalition, January 9, 2005
  10. [2], ANSWER Coalition
  11. URGENT ACTION UPDATE for Jan 20!!!, DC Indymedia, January 19, 2005
  12. 2005 Sanctioned Presidential Inaugural Balls, inauguraltickets.com
  13. Inaugural Protests J-20, Monthly Mooncharts
  14. Late Protest Shattered Event's Relative Calm, Manny Fernandez and Del Quentin Wilber, The Washington Post, January 22, 2005
  15. Carr v. District of Columbia, No. 06-00098 (ESH)
  16. "Settlement in Carr v. DC | ACLU of the Nation's Capital". Aclu-nca.org. 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2011-08-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. District settles lawsuit brought in 2005 mass arrest of demonstrators, Del Quentin Wilber, The Washington Post, August 1, 2011

External links