(ABC) — Violence flared on some streets of Washington, D.C., today amid Donald Trump‘s inauguration — with people smashing car and store windows, clashing with police and even torching a limo, leading to more than 200 arrests.
The capital’s interim police chief, Peter Newsham, said in a Periscope video posted on Twitter earlier today that the problems were caused by one group, “and it’s a very, very small percentage of the number of folks that came here to peacefully assemble in our city.”
Police said they responded using pepper spray and other control devices.
At least 217 people have been arrested and charged with rioting from this morning’s incident, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
Six Metropolitan Police Department officers suffered minor non-life-threatening-injuries, Newsham said at a news conference early this evening. He added that three of the six injured officers suffered head injuries from flying objects.
Thousands of protesters fanned out across downtown Washington in the morning, including some who tried to block security checkpoints to the inauguration festivities.
Dramatic video published on social media showed men and women using signs and sticks to shatter glass at a Starbucks and a bank. Police then attempted to chase down the suspected vandals.
Police said in a statement that an organized group marched through the northwestern part of the city around 10:30 a.m. and that “members of the group acting in a concerted effort engaged in acts of vandalism and several instances of destruction of property.”
The statement said that the group damaged vehicles, destroyed the property of multiple businesses and ignited small, isolated fires and that police vehicles were among those damaged.
The #DisruptJ20 coalition, named after the date of the inauguration, which promised that its participants would attempt to shut down the inauguration events, tangled with Bikers for Trump, a group clad in leather biker gear that backs the president.
Video on social media showed the two groups exchanging words and blows just before the start of inauguration festivities.
After the inauguration, protesters started a fire on the street, burning what appeared to be garbage and a plastic newspaper stand.
Later in the afternoon, protesters set on fire what appeared to be a stretch limo. Images on social media showed the words “We the people” spray-painted on a door of the vehicle. Smoke from the blaze could be seen streaming into the overcast sky.
Several verbal encounters took place between the president’s supporters and protesters. One Bikers for Trump member chastised protesters, according to a report by the Associated Press.
“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-style hats ridiculed Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, marching with signs calling Trump “Putin’s puppet” and “Kremlin employee of the month,” the AP reported.
At the inauguration ceremony, protesters could be seen being removed from the crowd.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, responded to the protests on Twitter, writing, “Nothing is more unAmerican than protesters who are not peaceful. Disgusting.”