WASHINGTON — As the formal pageantry of Inauguration Day unfolded Friday, several hundred protesters, including dozens of self-styled anarchists clad in black, clashed with police, vandalized cars, and smashed windows as they chanted against capitalism, President Trump, and former president Barack Obama.
Six police officers were injured in the chaos that extended across a swath of downtown Washington not far from the route of the inaugural parade. Police used tear gas and batons as the protesters set ablaze trash cans, kicked in plate-glass windows at banks, coffee shops, and bus shelters, and hurled rocks in the direction of the authorities trying to quell them. At one point, a limousine burned at the side of a busy thoroughfare.
Washington police said they arrested 217 protesters, and the violence was largely ended by 6 p.m.
In Boston, meanwhile, protesters gathered downtown to protest Trump, forcing police to close portions of Beacon, Bowdoin, and Cambridge streets. Demonstrators also gathered in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Across a small cluster of Washington streets, the damage done by protesters was significant. Some of the protesters included dozens from a self-styled anarchist group calling themselves the “black bloc.”
“We will build a new world in the ashes of the old!” screamed one member of the “black bloc” group who carried a megaphone. The crowd cheered in response. Several protesters and at least one police officer sustained minor injuries in the commotion.
Elsewhere in Greater Washington, protesters obstructed lanes on Interstate 395, blocked some Trump supporters from using the inauguration’s entrance checkpoints, and passed out free marijuana in Dupont Circle.
A protester punched Richard B. Spencer, a leader of the alt-right, as Spencer gave an interview. The alt-right is a far right movement tied to anti-Semitism and white nationalism.
If the goal was to disrupt the inauguration, the protests failed. Authorities kept the disturbances well away from the Capitol, the National Mall, the parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the White House.
If the goal was to generate media attention, however, they were more successful. TV networks covered much of the unrest live during part of the afternoon, and Washington Post staffers tweeted pictures taken from the windows of their newsroom of demonstrators burning park benches on K Street. A burned limousine was parked just outside the Post newsroom.
Demonstrators are planning a massive Women’s March on Washington, intended to be peaceful, on Saturday that is expected to draw as many as 200,000. The spirit of that protest was foreshadowed Friday with more sedate protests throughout the capital city.
Earlier in the day, around 8:30 a.m., protesters linked arms and formed a human wall to block an entrance to the Mall, chanting, “The whole world is watching,” and then “Climate justice now.”
Later, at McPherson Square, about three blocks from the White House, a group named #ResistTrump gathered with snacks and signs to protest united around a single cause, their dislike of Trump and his proposed Cabinet.
One woman wore a ball gown to represent the “Miss Handled” election. Another woman, in a cheetah costume, held a sign that said “Scratch the Election.”
Hallie Pope, a 29-year-old attorney from Washington, D.C., said she was protesting because she thinks democracy has come to a breaking point.
“I think our system of government is reaching a point beyond repair,” Pope said. “[Trump] motivates people with hatred.’’
Jim McGee, a 29-year-old software engineer who was also in McPherson Square, said he believes that Trump has conned the American people.
“He gave people this hope that he would upend the American political system, but he won’t,” McGee said. “Trump is the system.”
The protests were loosely organized and primarily publicized through social media. On Friday afternoon, several events overlapped, including the “Festival of Resistance” and “the Anti-Capitalism Rally.” Each rally had different political goals, but most of the rhetoric eventually returned to America’s new president.
Karen Snyder, a 41-year-old from Richmond, said she refused to recognize Trump as a “legitimate” president, because of a litany of sexual-assault claims women made against him.
“All those racist, sexist comments he made, and he still won the election,” Snyder said as she held a “Donald Trump is a Rapist” sign.
The anarchist groups appeared to be less concerned with a specific message than with general civil disruption. In the early afternoon, riot police used batons, tear gas, and pepper spray to corner the group of anarchists at a corner between 13th and K streets, roughly seven blocks from the National Mall. As police closed in, bystanders gathered and some screamed “Let them go!” from nearby apartment windows.
“Nothing is more unAmerican than protesters who are not peaceful. Disgusting,” tweeted Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri. “Sorry, but I believe peaceful protest is always the right way.”
In the crowd, there were communist flags, talk of revolution, and signs saying, “No borders. No nations. Just people.” Overall, it was less of a rejection of Trump and more to do with the American political and economic system at large.
Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, later arrived near 14th and K streets and praised the passion of the protesters.
“I’m very encouraged to see the resistance is alive and well,” Stein said. “People are standing up not only against Donald Trump but against the two-party corporate system that produced Donald Trump.”
As for the bystanders, some were sympathetic to the “black bloc’s” cause, but others, like Austin and Angelica Youngblood, said they disagreed with the group’s message and tactics.
The Youngbloods, a recently married couple from Virginia, had come to Washington to protest Donald Trump alone and were fervent Clinton supporters. As they watched from a distance, they held their heads in disgust as the bloc chanted against Clinton and Obama.
“This is all too much,” Austin Youngblood said.
The young couple, who rely on government aid to subsidize their home and food, would become homeless if Trump severely reduces access to social service programs, they said.
“This all feels like a dream to me,” Angelica Youngblood said. “Yes, I’m scared. I just think there’s nothing good about [Trump].”
The evening before, protesters had swarmed outside of the National Press Club as some far-right Trump supporters gathered inside for what they called the “DeploraBall.”
The clash turned violent at points, with protesters throwing items including batteries and glass, which hit attendees and police. Fights also broke out between Trump supporters and protesters who were heckling each other.
Paul Nehlen, who ran against House Speaker Paul Ryan in his Wisconsin primary but was defeated, told the Globe a friend was hospitalized after being hit in the head with a glass bottle by a protester.
But some protesters promised their anger was not specifically related to Trump or his supporters. “I would have been out here if Hillary was elected, too,” said Pope, the lawyer.
Victoria McGrane and Christopher Rowland of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Tyler Pager contributed to this report.