Trump supporters, counterprotesters clash at D.C. rally contesting Biden's victory

A rally and march to insist that President Trump rightfully won a second term went by several names, including the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal DC.
The events wentg by several names, including the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal DC.
Eman Mohammed for NPR

Updated: Nov. 15, 6:30 a.m.

Several thousand supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in Washington on Saturday to protest election results and echo false claims of fraud, before nighttime clashes with counterdemonstrators sparked fistfights, at least one stabbing and at least 20 arrests.

Several other cities on Saturday also saw gatherings of Trump supporters unwilling to accept Democrat Joe Biden's Electoral College and popular vote victory as legitimate. Cries of “Stop the Steal” and “Count Every Vote” continued in spite of a lack of evidence of voter fraud or other problems that could reverse the result.

After night fell, the relatively peaceful demonstrations in Washington turned from tense to violent. Videos posted on social media showed fistfights, projectiles and clubs as Trump supporters clashed with those demanding they take their MAGA hats and banners and leave. The tensions extended to Sunday morning. A variety of charges, including assault and weapons possession, were filed against those arrested, officials said. Two police officers were injured and several firearms were recovered by police.

Trump himself had given an approving nod to the gathering Saturday morning by dispatching his motorcade through streets lined with supporters before rolling on to his Virginia golf club. People chanted “USA, USA” and “four more years,” and many carried American flags and signs to show their displeasure with the vote tally and insistence that, as Trump has baselessly asserted, fraud was the reason.

One week after Joe Biden's presidential victory brought about spontaneous celebrations in the nation's capital, a crowd that included the group Women for America First, right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists gathered in the city's downtown near the White House.

The Proud Boys pray before the march as supporters of President Trump rally at Freedom Plaza and the Supreme Court.
The Proud Boys pray before the march as supporters of President Donald Trump rally at Freedom Plaza and the Supreme Court.
Carol Guzy for NPR

Members of the Proud Boys, a white-nationalist movement designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, were also seen out on the streets of Washington.

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The events went by several names, including the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal DC.

Supporters of President Trump rally at the Million MAGA March to challenge election results.
Supporters of President Trump rally at the 'Million MAGA March' to challenge election results.
Carol Guzy for NPR
On Friday, the National Park Service issued a permit, requested by Women for America First, for 10,000 people to attend the march.
On Friday, the National Park Service issued a permit for 10,000 people to attend the march, requested by Women for America First.
Tyrone Turner/WAMU

By late Saturday morning, a crowd had assembled in Freedom Plaza near the White House.

The demonstrations unfolded peacefully for most of the day, but counterprotesters clashed with the president's supporters, and violence erupted as night fell. Counterprotesters were seen overturning tables of vendors selling Trump merchandise, as well as stealing Trump hats and flags and setting them on fire, according to The Washington Post.

Opposing views clash in Black Lives Matter Plaza after supporters of Trump held a rally.
Opposing views clash in Black Lives Matter Plaza after supporters of President Donald Trump held a rally.
Carol Guzy for NPR
A protester gets her eyes flushed after clashes broke out on Black Lives Matter Plaza.
A protestor gets her eyes flushed after clashes broke out on Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Carol Guzy for NPR
Demonstrators raise a flag during the march.
Demonstrators raise a flag during the march.
Carol Guzy for NPR
Trump supporters rally as opposing views clash during the march.
Trump supporters rally as opposing views clash during the march.
Carol Guzy for NPR

Two officers were injured and at least 20 people were arrested, according to the D.C. Mayor's Office. Of those arrests, four were for firearm violations, two for simple assault, one for an assault on a police officer, and two for disorderly conduct, D.C. police told member station WAMU. Seven guns were recovered. It was not immediately clear if the guns belonged to Trump supporters or counterprotesters.

Scattered clashes turned violent around 8 p.m., when Trump supporters armed with batons and counterprotesters collided in a brawl five blocks from the White House, The Post reported, before police broke up the groups. A city fire official said a young man was transported to the hospital for serious injuries after he was stabbed in the back during the fight, according to the newspaper.

Trump supporters at the Million MAGA March in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14.
Trump supporters at a march in Washington on Saturday.
Dee Dwyer for NPR
Later in the afternoon, protesters moved to the Supreme Court for a rally, chanting "Four more years!" and "USA!"
Later in the afternoon, protesters moved onto the Supreme Court for a rally, chanting 'four more years' and 'USA!'
Carol Guzy for NPR
Thousands of Trump supporters gather at Freedom Plaza to march to the Supreme Court.
Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump gather at Freedom Plaza to march to the Supreme Court.
Eman Mohammed for NPR
A Trump supporter holds her sign before she marches.
A Trump supporter holds her sign before she marches.
Dee Dwyer for NPR

Videos from earlier in the day showed attendees waving American and Trump 2020 flags. Few could be seen wearing a mask, even as the U.S. on Friday announced a new daily record of 184,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Trump Supporters argue with counterprotesters behind the police line.
Trump supporters argue with counterprotesters behind the police line.
Dee Dwyer for NPR
Trump supporters brought campaign flags but not many masks to the Washington, D.C., demonstrations on Saturday.
Trump supporters brought campaign flags but not many masks to the Washington, D.C., demonstrations on Saturday.
Tyrone Turner/WAMU
One week after Joe Biden's presidential victory brought about spontaneous celebrations in Washington, D.C., a crowd that included the group Women for America First, right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists gathered in the city's downtown near the White House.
One week after Joe Biden's presidential victory brought about spontaneous celebrations in the nation's capital, a crowd that included the group Women for America First, right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists gathered in the city's downtown near the White House.
Eman Mohammed for NPR

Supporters came from far and wide, with many reportedly documenting their trips to Saturday's events. Luis Huerta told member station WAMU that he and his family had driven without stopping from Midland-Odessa, Texas, for the rallies.

"It's about time our voices were heard and about time we stop giving ground," Huerta said while holding a "Texans for Trump" sign.

Later in the afternoon, protesters moved onto the Supreme Court for a rally, chanting "four more years" and "USA!" Among speakers was the right-wing media personality and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

The events were mostly peaceful throughout the day Saturday.
The events were mostly peaceful throughout the day Saturday.
Eman Mohammed for NPR
Trump supporters hit the streets down the road from the U.S. Capitol.
Trump supporters — at events with names like the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal DC — hit the streets down the road from the U.S. Capitol.
Carol Guzy for NPR
Marchers claim Trump was the true winner of the recent presidential election.
Marchers claim Trump was the true winner of the recent presidential election.
Eman Mohammed for NPR

Tammy Summers, who traveled to Washington from Missouri, said she was there to show her support for Trump as he continues to contest the election results.

"We're here to tell President Trump that we totally support him," Summers said. "He should never give up the fight and never give in."

Summers also questioned findings concluding that there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

"First, they were saying there was no evidence of fraud. Now they're saying there's no widespread evidence of fraud. I'm sorry, one incident of fraud against our election system is too many," she said.

A marcher shows her support for Trump.
A marcher shows her support for President Trump.
Dee Dwyer for NPR
One week after people celebrating Trump's defeat filled the streets of Washington, demonstrators who deny his loss took their place.
One week after protesters celebrating President Trump's defeat filled the streets of Washington, demonstrators who deny his loss took their place.
Carol Guzy for NPR

Election officials — both Democratic and Republican — across the U.S. have thoroughly debunked claims of fraud and malfeasance in the 2020 presidential election.

They were joined on Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security, which in a statement concluded, "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." The statement, which was put out by agencies within the department responsible for election integrity, called the Nov. 3 election "the most secure in American history."

Among the counterprotests, the group Refuse Fascism DC posted a video of its demonstration starting in Black Lives Matter Plaza.

Trump supporters and counterprotesters clashed at the Supreme Court.
Trump supporters and counterprotesters clashed at the Supreme Court.
Carol Guzy for NPR
Demonstrators gather as counterprotesters arrive.
Demonstrators gather as counterprotestors arrive.
Carol Guzy for NPR
Far-right media personality and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, of the website InfoWars, and Trump supporters rally in Washington, D.C.
Alex Jones of InfoWars and supporters of President Donald Trump rally at Freedom Plaza and the Supreme Court.
Carol Guzy for NPR

At the Supreme Court, police separated Trump supporters from a group of anti-fascist and anti-Trump protesters, according to video posted to Twitter. After several hours, counterprotesters eventually moved on from the Supreme Court demonstration.

The arrival of the so-called "stop the steal" caravans had earlier raised concerns in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.

A handful of skirmishes broke out Friday as counterprotesters attempted to prevent the removal of signs on fencing around the White House.

On Saturday morning, video posted by local activists showed what appeared to be a small group of rallygoers ripping down anti-racism and police brutality artwork in Black Lives Matter Plaza. That section of the city was renamed during massive racial justice protests over the summer.

A counterprotester asks police officers who formed a line between counterprotesters and Trump supporters, "Why are you protecting them?" — referring to the Trump supporters.
A counterprotester asks police officers who formed a line between counterprotesters and Trump supporters, "why are you protecting them," referring to the Trump supporters.
Dee Dwyer for NPR
A counterprotester has a debate with a Trump supporter. She asks him to leave as he walks through the crowd of counterprotesters.
A counterprotester has a debate with a Trump supporter. She asked him to leave as he walked through the crowd of counterprotesters.
Dee Dwyer for NPR

Fears that attendees would bring guns — as was the case during anti-lockdown protests in several states in recent months — were also high.

On Saturday, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine tweeted out a reminder of local gun laws, which prohibit openly carrying a firearm and restrict where permitted conceal-carry weapons are allowed.

"No firearms are allowed around the White House, the National Mall, the Tidal Basin or the US Capitol – permit or no permit," Racine tweeted.

Washington, D.C.'s chief of police offered a similar warning.

Ahead of the demonstrations, police in Washington announced road closures and parking restrictions.

NPR's Hannah Allam, Tom Bowman and member station WAMU contributed to this story.

Trump supporters raise their flags at the Million MAGA March.
Trump supporters raise their flags at the MAGA March.
Dee Dwyer for NPR

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