WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — Protesters registered their rage against the new president Friday in a chaotic confrontation with police who used pepper spray and stun grenades in a melee just blocks from Donald Trump’s inaugural parade in Washington, D.C. Scores were arrested for trashing property and attacking officers while a burning limousine sent clouds of black smoke into the sky during Trump’s procession.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham says 217 people were arrested, accused of rioting during inauguration protests. Six officers suffered minor injuries.READ MORE: Biden Administration Enacts New Travel Rules Due To Spread Of COVID-19 Omicron Variant
Spirited demonstrations unfolded peacefully at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through to the inaugural ceremony. Signs read, “Resist Trump Climate Justice Now,” ”Let Freedom Ring,” ”Free Palestine.”
But about a mile from the National Mall, police gave chase to a group of about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses including a Starbucks, a Bank of America and a McDonald’s as they denounced capitalism and Trump. Police in riot gear used pepper spray from large canisters and eventually cordoned off protesters at 12th and L streets in northwest Washington.
The confrontation began an hour before Trump took the oath of office and escalated several hours later as the crowd of protesters swelled to more than 1,000, some wearing gas masks and with arms chained together inside PVC pipe. One said the demonstrators were “bringing in the cavalry.”
When some crossed police lines, taunting, “Put the pigs in the ground,” police charged with batons and pepper spray, as well as stun grenades, which are used to shock and disperse crowds. Loud booms echoed through the streets about six blocks from where Trump would soon hold his inaugural parade.
Some protesters picked up bricks and concrete from the sidewalk and hurled them at police lines. Some rolled large, metal trash cans at police.
A man who described himself as an American nationalist says his friend was knocked out after he was hit on the head with a stick by an anti-Trump protester in McPherson Square.
Samuel Hyde of Jacksonville, Florida, says he and his friends ventured into the anti-Trump protest “just to see what was going on. We figured out quickly we weren’t welcome.”
The pro-Trump supporters were quickly surrounded. The man who was struck, who did not give his name, told Army soldiers who came to his aid, “I was worried they were going to bash my brains out.”
Araquel Bloss, lead organizer of the Occupy Inauguration protest in McPherson Square, also came to the man’s aid. She says the protest was nonviolent and the man who struck the victim is not representative of the protesters.
Protesters set a limousine on fire near the inauguration parade route. CBS News reports the fire is under control.
Police said in a statement that the group damaged vehicles, destroyed property and set small fires while armed with crowbars and hammers. Peter Newsham, the interim police chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, said the group caused “significant damage” along a number of blocks and that more than 90 people were arrested and charged with rioting.
Before Inauguration Day, the DisruptJ20 coalition, named after the date of the inauguration, had promised that people participating in its actions in Washington would attempt to shut down the celebrations, risking arrest when necessary.READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: District Attorney Larry Krasner, Gun Violence Task Force To Announce Arrest, Charges Of Gun Trafficking Suspect
Earlier in the day, as guests were going in to the ceremony, lines for ticket-holders entering two gates stretched for blocks at one point as protesters clogged entrances.
Trump supporter Brett Ecker said the protesters were frustrating but weren’t going to put a damper on his day.
“They’re just here to stir up trouble,” said the 36-year-old public school teacher. “It upsets me a little bit that people choose to do this, but yet again, it’s one of the things I love about this country.”
At one checkpoint, protesters wore orange jumpsuits with black hoods over their faces to represent prisoners in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay. Eleanor Goldfield, who helped organize the Disrupt J20 protest, said protesters wanted to show Trump and his “misguided, misinformed or just plain dangerous” supporters that they won’t be silent.
Black Lives Matter and feminist groups also made their voices heard.
Most Trump supporters walking to the inauguration past Union Station ignored protesters outside the train station, but not Doug Rahm, who engaged in a lengthy and sometimes profane yelling match with them. “Get a job,” said Rahm, a Bikers for Trump member from Philadelphia. “Stop crying, snowflakes, Trump won.”
Outside the International Spy Museum, protesters in Russian hats ridiculed Trump’s praise of President Vladimir Putin, marching with signs calling Trump “Putin’s Puppet” and “Kremlin employee of the month.”
More demonstrations were planned for later in the day. The “Festival of Resistance” march ran about 1.5 miles to McPherson Square, a park about three blocks from the White House, where a rally featuring the filmmaker and liberal activist Michael Moore was planned.
Along the inaugural parade route, the ANSWER Coalition anti-war group planned demonstrations at two locations.
Friday’s protests weren’t the first of the inauguration. On Thursday night, protesters and Trump supporters clashed outside a pro-Trump event in Washington. Police used chemical spray on some protesters in an effort to control the unruly crowd.
The demonstrations won’t end when Trump takes up residence in the White House. A massive Women’s March on Washington is planned for Saturday. Christopher Geldart, the District of Columbia’s homeland security director, has said 1,800 buses have registered to park in the city Saturday, which could mean nearly 100,000 people coming in just by bus.
In Philadelphia, dozens of Temple University students have gathered to protest Trump’s inauguration.
Philadelphia Police are planning for peaceful protests.
“The city has a really good history of being a place where people are allowed to peacefully and lawfully express themselves,” said Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan.MORE NEWS: Water Main Break Flooding Multiple Buildings In Society Hill Section, Officials Say
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