Protests in Washington during President Trump’s inaugural festivities have led to at least 217 arrests, interim D.C. police chief Peter Newsham said at an evening news conference.
Newsham said that the vast majority of protests across the city unfolded peacefully. But he said that around 10 a.m., a group of 400 to 500 people — whose activities appeared to be “organized and intentional” — moved south on 13th Street NW toward the Mall. Some were armed with crowbars and hammers, and they destroyed vehicles and storefronts along the way.
Those arrested were charged with rioting, Newsham said.
“This was not a spontaneous event,” he said. He said that police deployed pepper spray and “other armaments” to deter the protesters.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said she respects the rights of people to demonstrate and speak out, but “we will not tolerate the destruction of our neighborhoods, and we will not tolerate violence against our police officers.”