Thousands of flag-bearing and camouflaged Trump supporters – – including Proud Boys and Boogaloo Boys – – took to the streets of the capital on Saturday to celebrate the so-called "Million MAGA March", a protest in support of President Donald Trump's false claim that he was cheated out of an election victory.
The president, who has not yet admitted his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, even appeared on the march. Just after 10 a.m., Trump's motorcade drove down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the President smiled and waved to a crowd – most of them without a mask – in Freedom Plaza. Trump quickly left the protest area en route to Trump National Golf Club in the Virginia suburbs.
Trump could have given his supporters a rousing speech at the Million MAGA March, but instead chose to drive through them to play golf. pic.twitter.com/HHH8wQVsyf
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 14, 2020
Several people in the crowd spoke to the Washington Post about the president's appearance. “He drove right past me. I saw him. He waved right past me, ”said a man from the post office.
"He looked wrong," said another. "I'm still shaking."
The President's visit gives legitimacy to a protest marked by conspiracy theories and untruths about the elections. Earlier this week, Trump called the protests, which were promoted by far-right influencers throughout the week, "heartwarming".
It's heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support out there, especially the organic rallies that are going on across the country, including a big one on Saturday in DC. I could even try to stop by and say hello. That election was rigged, from Dominion up and down!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2020
Despite claims made by Trump and his supporters, President-elect Joe Biden rightly won the election by a wide margin. This result will be confirmed by the states on December 8th. The electoral college will vote on December 14th and Biden will be installed next year.
But Trump has refused to accept this, launching broadsides on Twitter and engaging in a losing litigation to dismiss the results. Much of the president's supporters, as well as many Republican lawmakers, have so far refused to accept Biden as the election winner.
The Million MAGA March is an offshoot of a larger nationwide “Stop the Steal” protest movement that falsely claims Democrats conspired to steal the Republicans' elections. The president's supporters claim that this theft was carried out in various ways the Dominion voting machines – – that are electronic and have been used in many states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, among others – – Change of votes in key states to a mix of false or weak claims that election observers in swing state cities will be denied access to votes.
All of these claims have been disproved by evidence – and in some cases by judges – but that hasn't stopped the President and his supporters from continuing to insist that he did indeed win the election.
Saturday's march was a mix of different protests – a "Stop the Steal" protest, a "March for Trump" event and the Million MAGA march – which was supposed to begin at Freedom Plaza before marching to the Supreme Court at noon. Partly organized by Women for America First, which had received city approval, the protests attracted a wide range of right-wing groups – even right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was supposed to be in attendance.
City residents and officials were on high alert prior to the protests, especially after the Unite the Right rally organized by white nationalists in Charlottesville in 2017, in which a counter-protester was killed. Given how many other high profile white nationalist rallies lately – like the Straight Pride March in Boston in 2019 – no one was sure what exactly to expect from the march.
Until Saturday morning there were mostly no clashes with counter-protesters. A small group of women leading counter-protesters were constantly surrounded by Trump supporters, with both groups yelling and singing at each other until the counter-protest group was able to secure a police cordon.
While the turnout was likely to be in the thousands, that did not prevent the White House from increasing the number of largely peaceful protests.
Yet the fact that so many showed up in the first place shows how successful Trump was in convincing supporters that something is wrong with the 2020 results – even if he failed to convince the courts.
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