As law enforcement retook the Capitol building on Wednesday night, the far-right coalition that had breached the building looked to its leaders for cues on their next actions. Those messages were muddled, as the movement sought to advance from a day of unprecedented destruction.
The far right has spent months organizing and advertising a series of increasingly chaotic pro-Trump rallies in Washington, D.C., culminating in Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol. Ahead of that January 6 putsch, organizers announced plans to “occupy” the area outside the Capitol building, while others screen-printed “MAGA Civil War January 6, 2021” hoodies to wear to the event.
But their invasion of the Capitol, against a lackluster security force, did not stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. On the political back foot, but enervated from the Capitol attack, the far right mulled a series of new rallies and conspiracy theories in support of Donald Trump.
Enrique Tarrio, leader of the far-right paramilitary group the Proud Boys, was not in D.C. during Wednesday’s rally. He’d been arrested earlier in the week on a misdemeanor charge for allegedly burning a Black church’s Black Lives Matter banner during a recent D.C. rally, as well as a felony charge for alleged possession of high-capacity gun magazines. He was released on the condition that he stay out of D.C. until a future court hearing.
Nevertheless, Tarrio spent the rally on the social media site Parler where, apparently from a safe distance, he told Capitol attackers “don’t fucking leave.” After the attackers were cleared from the Capitol, he shared a stylized video of someone (presumably a Proud Boy) standing in front of the building while ominous music played. He captioned the video “premonition.”
Tarrio did not return a request for comment on future Proud Boy plans in D.C., although he and members of his group have previously called for chaos at Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
“Do whatever you got to do to fucking get your tickets,” Tarrio previously said on a podcast, as reported by the Daily Dot. “You show up there in Biden gear and you turn his inauguration into a fucking circus, a sign of resistance, a sign of revolution [...] You fucking kick off this presidency with fucking fireworks.”
It was unclear whether those plans are still in place. Meanwhile, other fixtures of the far right promoted gun rallies in the run-up to Biden’s inauguration.
In the hours after the Capitol invasion, an administrator on the forum MyMilitia advertised a January 9 gun rally in Washington, D.C., Others started rebranding a previous effort to hold January 17 gun rallies in all 50 states and D.C. Those proposed rallies have been pushed by the Boogaloo movement, a far-right and libertarian coalition that lusts for civil war. After the Capitol attack, members of that movement began promoting the January 17 rallies again, this time using the hashtagged name of a woman who was fatally shot by police while invading the Capitol.
Across far-right social media, other observers announced their plans to return to D.C. at some later date. One popular Parler post threatened to return to recreate Wednesday’s attack, but on January 19, with guns.
Future mobilizations in D.C. might meet considerably more resistance than Wednesday’s. D.C.’s police chief later claimed the department had no knowledge that Trump supporters would try to breach the Capitol, though a Bellingcat report the day before the attack highlighted Trump fans’ public plans to enter the building. Since the assault, however, the Army has announced that some 6,000 National Guard troops will be deployed in the city through the inauguration, as The Daily Beast reported.
Trump’s Twitter account, where he advertised the January 6 rally, and has repeatedly called for militancy from his followers, is also currently locked down, as is his Facebook, after he issued positive statements about the Capitol attackers. The silence from Trump might leave some of his supporters searching for direction.
While paramilitary groups rattled off dates for the next possible attack, fans of the QAnon conspiracy theory looked to Trump to pull off an Inauguration Day miracle.
“Biden has been certified by Congress as the winner of the 2020 general election,” Ron Watkins, a former administrator of the QAnon-hosting forum 8kun tweeted. “Trump still has about two weeks. Does he have a trick up his sleeve? All eyes on January 20.”
In the replies to Watkins’ tweet, followers of the conspiracy theory (which falsely claims Trump’s enemies are involved in a Satanic pedophilia and cannibalism ring) claimed that Trump was about to execute a master plan on January 20, which would hand him election victory. Others accused Vice President Mike Pence of colluding with Democrats in occult crimes, apparently because he did not attempt to overturn the election on Wednesday.