WASHINGTON - A limousine driver whose vehicle was set on fire while people protested and rioted during President Donald Trump's inauguration on the streets of downtown Washington D.C. is speaking out to FOX 5 about the vandalism.
The riots happened several blocks north of the secure zone outside of Franklin Square as several businesses, including a bank and a Starbucks, had their store fronts smashed in by vandals.
But it was just beneath the offices of the Washington Post where several cars were torched by criminals disguised as protesters, including the burned limousine. They first smashed the windows of the vehicles and then they tossed flares inside of them, which ultimately left the vehicles engulfed in flames on the street.
"It took no longer than five minutes," said the limo driver, who did not want to be identified because of the harassment he has already faced while trying to do his job. "They smashed all the windows - 'Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.' Then they went and smashed another window of the SUV that was behind me. When I opened the door, I saw a small flame already on the carpet. I step on it, pull it off, take the flare out, smash it on the floor and that's it.
"Everybody in this country has the right to protest and protest is just speaking louder than normal. But no one has the right to destroy private or public property. If that's a crime, it has to be punished somehow. I don't know the laws about how many years or it's fair or not, but it has to be punished because we have to establish that the law has to be respected."
Just before the mass arrests of unruly protesters on Friday, police were seen pepper-spraying the crowd. The driver said the same people he saw vandalize his limo walked back in tears from the pepper spray. He said it was then he was able to tell each of them, "You deserve it."
The driver also said before Trump was sworn in as president, Trump's personal assistant would personally request him as his driver. The limo driver called President Trump an extremely generous man who knew the service industry well and treated him with great respect - always making sure to personally tip him.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help the owner of the limousine service replace the damaged vehicle. To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/help-nationwide-sedan-service