Anti-Trump Protesters Set Off Smoke Devices, Light Fires on Inauguration Eve

One man was arrested near the protests for conspiring to commit a crime, police say

Protests against President-elect Donald Trump took a chaotic turn on the eve of his inauguration as demonstrators set off smoke devices and lit Trump merchandise on fire in downtown Washington, D.C.

D.C. police officers wearing riot gear formed a wall near 13th and F streets NW Thursday night, after protesters with the group Refuse Fascism converged on the street in front of the nearby National Press Club, where some Trump supporters are attending an event called the DeploraBall.

Demonstrators accused Trump of being a racist who emboldened white supremacists.

"I watched the video of the alt-right conference. They give Nazi salutes and Sieg Heils in the middle of my capital, the capital of my country. I love this country. I'm not going to let these people ruin it," said one man protesting.

Many demonstrators screamed "F--- Trump" and at one point the group projected images on the National Press Club building that read "Impeach the Predatory President" and "Bragging About Grabbing a Woman's Genitals."

"I think it's great that we live in a country where they can disagree with the president and they have their voice that they can do that. I think it's awesome," said Trump supporter Luke Gwinn, who was there for the DeploraBall.

Nearby, police arrested 34-year-old Scott Ryan Charney, of Northwest D.C., and charged him with conspiracy to commit an assault. Police said Charney and two others conspired to commit a crime at the National Press Club building. Police are still searching for the two other suspects involved.

According to NBC News, police used pepper spray on protesters. 

CNN also reported the use of pepper spray but said that Hugh Carew, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, said he could not confirm the use of pepper spray.

D.C. police tweeted two separate groups were out protesting in the area. Protesters dispersed about 11 p.m., they said.

Stay with News4 and for updates to this developing story.

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