Trump supporters and members of the Proud Boys clashed with police in the nation’s capital on Tuesday night, one day before Congress is expected to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
Police attempted to contain the crowd, who hurled abuse at the officers stationed in the streets, and accused them of failing to protect the constitution.
‘You lost both sides of support,’ yelled one man. ‘We had your f***ing back, but we ain’t got your back no more!’
Chants of ‘f*** Antifa’ broke out, and some recited the Pledge of Allegiance as they tried to break through the police lines.
An injured Trump supporter is helped after a clash with counter-protesters on Tuesday
Police and protesters scuffled on the streets of Washington DC on Tuesday night
Trump fans braved the cold on Tuesday night to show their support for the president
A Trump supporter is seen recovering from being tear gassed as protests turned violent
Police set up cordons to try and separate Trump supporters from counter-protesters on Tuesday night
Crowds of Trump supporters gathered in Washington DC on Tuesday night
Earlier in the evening, protesters — many without masks — gathered in Freedom Plaza to decry the vote in the Electoral College.
Roger Stone, the Republican operative pardoned by Trump in July, told the crowd Trump was ‘the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln’ because he had ‘freed this slave’.
Stone was convicted in November 2019 of lying under oath to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
‘I have two things I want to conclude by saying,’ said Stone on Tuesday night.
‘One. Roger Stone did nothing wrong.
‘Two. Donald Trump is the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln because he freed this slave.
‘We will not let him down, and he will not let America down.’
Roger Stone, the Republican operative pardoned by Trump, declared that Trump had freed ‘this slave’
Stone, convicted in November 2019 of lying to Congress about his dealings during the 2016 election, was a star speaker
MyPillow founder Mike Lindell addressed the crowd to promote conspiracy theories about how Democrats allegedly stuffed ballot boxes.
He also alluded to the possibility of civil war if Trump’s loss is not reversed.
‘You need to pray for our vice president to look up to God and say, ‘I need to make a decision, Lord,’ and make the right decision for our country,’ Lindell said, alluding to Mike Pence’s role overseeing Wednesday’s Electoral College certification process.
‘You don’t have a [civil] war when the other side didn’t win anything … they were trying to steal it from us.’
As temperatures dropped to the low 40s and a steady rain swept onto the streets, hundreds remained in the plaza into nightfall.
‘I’m just here to support the president,’ said David Wideman, a 45-year-old firefighter who traveled from Memphis, Tennessee.
Wideman acknowledged to AP he was ‘confused’ by a string of losses from the president’s legal team in their attempt to overturn the results of the election and didn’t know what options Trump had left.
‘I not sure what he can do at this point, but I want to hear what he has to say,’ Wideman said.
Supporters of Donald Trump traveled to Washington DC on Tuesday night
Streets in the capital were closed ahead of the expected protests by Trump fans
A man is seen standing in front of the Washington Monument as Trump supporters protested
Trump tweeted his support for the protesters: ‘Washington is being inundated with people who don’t want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’
The speakers included former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom the president pardoned after he was twice convicted of lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
‘We stand at a crucible moment in United States history,’ Flynn told the crowd. ‘This country is awake now.’
The president was expected to personally address his supporters in Washington on Wednesday during a rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. The protests coincide with Wednesday’s congressional vote expected to certify the Electoral College results, which Trump continues to dispute.
Proud Boys’ leaders have shared with their followers that they intend to attend the rally ‘incognito’ and wearing ‘ALL black.’
The Proud Boys’ chairman, Enrique Tarrio, revealed on Parler that ‘the Proud Boys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but, this time, with a twist.’
He wrote: ‘We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow.’
The group’s standard uniform is black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts, military armor, and MAGA hats.
Tarrio wrote: ‘We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams.’
Joe Biggs, an organizer for the group, confirmed the alleged plans on his Parler account.
On Monday, police arrested Tarrio, 36, after he arrived in Washington ahead of this week’s protests.
Tarrio was accused of burning one of the Black Lives Matter banners in December and was found with two high-capacity firearm magazines, police said.
A judge signed an order Tuesday banning Tarrio from entering the District of Columbia, with very limited exceptions related to his criminal case.
WHO ARE THE PROUD BOYS?
Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes started the all-male Proud Boys in 2016. McInnes and the Proud Boys have described the group as a politically incorrect men’s club for ‘Western chauvinists’ and deny affiliations with far-right extremist groups that overtly espouse racist and anti-Semitic views.
The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center designated the Proud Boys as a hate group, saying that its members often spread ‘outright bigotry’ and ‘anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric’ over the internet, and have posted social media pictures of themselves with prominent Holocaust deniers, white nationalists and ‘known neo-Nazis.’
Current leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, marched in the infamous Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in 2017.
McInnes filed a lawsuit against the SPLC in February, challenging the addition of his organization to a list of hate groups.
Proud Boys have been involved in a series of high-profile violent clashes at political events.
In New York City in October 2018, police arrested several Proud Boys members who brawled with anti-fascist protesters following a speech by McInnes at a Manhattan Republican club.
Proud Boys members also have frequently clashed with counterprotesters at rallies in California and Oregon.
In a Tuesday evening tweet, Trump called on Democrats and fellow Republicans to look at the ‘thousands of people pouring into D.C.’
In another tweet, he warned that Antifa, the umbrella term for leftist militant groups that Trump has said he wants to declare a terrorist organization, should stay out of Washington.
The rallies had local officials and law enforcement bracing for potential violent street clashes. Many businesses in downtown Washington boarded up their windows, fearful that the protest could devolve into the unrest seen in May and June when dozens of businesses were vandalized.
Officials said there were six arrests by Tuesday night for a variety of offenses including weapons and ammunition possession, assaulting a police officer, simple assault and possessing a stun gun.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser called in National Guard troops to help bolster the city’s police force.
She urged residents to stay away from downtown Washington and to avoid confrontations with anyone who is ‘looking for a fight.’
But, she warned, ‘we will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city.’
Election officials from both political parties, governors in key battleground states and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election.
Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two challenges rejected by the Supreme Court.
A pro-Trump rally on December 12 ended in violence as hundreds of Trump supporters, wearing the signature black and yellow of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, sought out confrontations with a collective of local activists attempting to bar them from Black Lives Matter Plaza, an area near the White House.
At least two local black churches had Black Lives Matter banners torn down and set ablaze.
In addition to the National Guard, federal agents were on standby, in case they were quickly needed in the city this week.
The federal Bureau of Prisons said about 100 ‘specially trained officers’ were sent to the Justice Department headquarters to assist other security personnel but would remain ‘in a reserve capacity unless needed.’
The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, said that unlike during the unrest in May and June in Washington, it did not plan to deploy agents from Customs and Border Protection to the demonstration Wednesday.
‘Right now, we have not been asked to deploy. However, we have a modest quick reaction force that will be on standby just in case our assistance is requested,’ the agency’s acting commissioner, Mark Morgan, said.
A November pro-Trump rally drew about 15,000 participants.
The December 12 rally drew smaller numbers, but a larger contingent of Proud Boys.
Washington DC police were out in force ahead of the expected protest and counter-protest