As President Trump prepared to deliver his acceptance speech from the White House on the final night of the Republican convention Thursday, protesters gathered a block away to voice opposition to the administration and support for racial justice.

Small groups of protesters began arriving on Black Lives Matter Plaza a little after 6 p.m., chanting and playing music. A few minutes later, activists covered the D.C. flag at the end of the Black Lives Matter street mural with a large black sign declaring “Trump lies all the time.”

The demonstrations began quietly with a few dozen people and a sparse law enforcement presence in the early evening. But as 9 p.m. approached, tensions flared between the growing ranks of vocal protesters and a handful of Trump supporters. Police moved in to separate the sides, sparking tension between officers and protesters.

Earlier a group of about two dozen people gathered outside the boarded up Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute to meditate on yoga mats with their shoes off, bottles of water nearby and a steady stream of drum beats and anti-Trump chants leaving the instructor struggling to be heard.

Included among the protesters at the plaza was a group of young adults — many carrying orange and black signs reading “Trump/Pence OUT NOW!” — who had arrived the night before from Portland, where they said they were involved in the often-violent protests there.

“We have been tear gassed probably like 67 times,” said Precious, 26, who declined to give her last name.

The group danced to the beat of snare drums and chanted.

Nearby, a man with a bike trailer warning of an arriving “Judgement Day,” counseled the arriving crowd over a loudspeaker.

“We’ve got to pace ourselves!” he shouted. “Pace ourselves!”

By 7:30, there were several hundred protesters including people who traveled for the Friday March on Washington but wanted to send another message to Trump before his nomination speech from the South Lawn….


image….Matt McClain/The Washington Post