Hundreds of protestors set trash bins on fire, charged police and vandalized parked vehicles just blocks from the Capitol building where the inauguration ceremony took place for the freshly inaugurated president.
At one point, a limousine was set alight outside of the Washington Post newspaper’s downtown offices, sending flocks of protesters fleeing as flames sent a pillar of smoke into the afternoon sky. Firefighters were called in, ultimately dousing the rising inferno.
At a news conference police said at least 217 suspects were arrested and charged with rioting. Six officers suffered minor injuries.
Most protests ended peacefully but a few hundred demonstrators were intent to instigate violence as they carried hammers and crowbars and destroyed public property, according to police.
One protestor, 26-year-old Jan Getjans from the Washington area, criticized demonstrators who damaged property and said their actions are "not the overwhelming majority of what's going on today, nor is it the theme."
"I am from this city, am I going to condone the construction of this city? No," Getjans said.
Getjans described protestors as an "extremely diverse group" that includes some who "are OK with property destruction" but it is "unfair to characterize this afternoon by property destruction", he said.
Getjans also called Trump an "overwhelmingly unpopular" president, saying his assumption of the presidency is "an unprecedented moment".