Washington, D.C. police arrest 217 after violence flares during inauguration

Washington, D.C. police arrest 217 on rioting charges after protesters clashed with police on the city’s streets following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (JANUARY 20, 2017) (REUTERS) – America’s political divisions turned violent on Washington’s streets during U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday (January 20), as black-clad anti-establishment activists set fires and clashed with police, while Trump supporters cheered the new chief executive.

Hundreds of protesters with varying agendas marched through downtown, and some groups clashed with police, throwing rocks and bottles, which police responded to with tear gas and concussion grenades. A helicopter hovered low overhead.

At one flash point, a protester hurled an object through the passenger window of a police van, which sped away in reverse as demonstrators cheered. Earlier, activists wearing masks used chunks of pavement and baseball bats to shatter the windows of a Bank of America branch and a McDonald’s outlet, all symbols of American capitalism.

Multiple vehicles were set on fire, including a black limousine and a television truck. A knot of people dragged garbage cans into a street a few blocks from the White House and set them ablaze, later throwing a red cap bearing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan into the flames.

“Throughout the city we have seen hundreds upon hundreds of protesters who have respected our laws and have made their voices hear through non-violent acts of protest. Unfortunately, a small group of people have engaged in vandalism as well as violence against our law enforcement officers. This type of destruction and this type of violence against people in Washington, D.C. will not be tolerated,” Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Police said at least 217 people were arrested and six officers were injured in scuffles with activists. The people arrested would be held overnight before making court appearances on Saturday, Peter Newsham, interim chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, told a news conference. Newsham added that police would continue to monitor security around the night’s celebrations.

Friday’s protests played out just blocks from Pennsylvania Avenue, where New York businessman-turned-Republican politician Trump took part in the traditional parade a newly sworn in president takes from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.

The various protest groups scattered around the city chanted anti-Trump slogans and carried signs with slogans including “Trump is not president” and “Make Racists Afraid Again.”