WASHINGTON — D.C. police are preparing to monitor protests Friday night following President Donald Trump’s inauguration after a large group of protesters turned violent earlier in the day, smashing windows and throwing bricks at officers.
“We are prepared for the events tonight,” D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters at a Friday evening news conference. “This will undoubtedly be a long day. We encourage those attending events tonight and throughout the weekend to remain civil, express themselves peaceably and allow others with dissenting opinions to express themselves peaceably as well.”
D.C. police arrested 217 protesters who have been charged with rioting in connection with a violent outburst Friday morning. Protesters armed with hammers and crowbars smashed store and car windows in downtown D.C. and threw objects at officers, Newsham said. Six police officers suffered minor injuries, including three with head injuries, the police chief said.
Newsham said he is “very pleased” with the police response to the protesters, which included the use of pepper spray to quell the crowd.
There were violent protests by small groups of protesters on and off throughout the day. There were also many nonviolent protesters.
As of Friday evening, large groups of protesters remained in downtown D.C. near the Franklin Square area. Throughout the afternoon, protesters set trash cans on fire, broke out the windows of a stretch limo parked on K Street and set it on fire.
“We intend to work through the evening to continue to ensure that the city is safe,” Newsham said Friday.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser called on protesters to “follow the law” and protest peacefully.
“That means they’re not destroying property,” she said. “That means they’re not tearing up trash cans. That means they’re not setting fires. That means they’re not picking up bricks and throwing them at my officers … They can have their signs, they can talk about any message. They can talk to each other. But stop destroying the city.”
There are even bigger crowds expected on the National Mall Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington. Officials expect as many 500,000 people to rally on the mall and participate in a march along Independence Avenue Saturday afternoon.
Bowser, who is scheduled to speak at the rally, said she expects the rally will remain peaceful.
“They’re not coming here to destroy Washington, D.C.,” she said of march participants.
Newsham said police are preparing for large crowds but do not anticipate violence at Saturday’s march.
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