Thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C. Saturday in a mass denial of Donald Trump’s election loss—a protest that would not change the outcome of this month’s presidential election, but would grant them the chance to lay eyes on the loser they still desperately claim as a winner.
The event, which has alternately been dubbed the “Million MAGA March,” “Stop the Steal DC,” and the “March for Trump,” was planned as a protest against widespread election fraud—which did not actually happen—and as a show of support for the lame-duck president. The crowd filled Freedom Plaza Saturday morning, but did not begin to approach the “MILLION marchers” that White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany falsely boasted on Twitter.
Even before the rally’s official noon start time, the overwhelming sentiment was that the election had been stolen from Trump. Rallygoers chanted “stop the steal,” which has become a go-to rallying cry for aggrieved Trump supporters in the weeks after the election.
Trump drove through the crowd in his motorcade just after 10 a.m. en route to the golf course. He flashed his signature thumbs up at protesters carrying Trump 2020 signs and posters with messages like “Kamala believes Tara Reade.”
“Heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support out there, especially the organic Rallies that are springing up all over the Country, including a big one on Saturday in D.C.,” Trump had tweeted on Friday night, hinting that he might attend the event.
Saturday’s crowd drew in both mainstream Trump supporters and extremist groups in what looks set to be one of the last gasps of the Trump era. Dozens of members of the Proud Boys marched in the streets of Washington before the event, chanting “fuck antifa.” White supremacists who marched in the deadly 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally have also announced their plans to attend.
One rallygoer held a giant “Q”—a reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory. One woman marching with a sign that accused President-elect Joe Biden of being a pedophile also wore a shirt declaring that Kyle Rittenhouse—the teen accused of killing two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin—“did nothing wrong.” Another man wore a shirt calling for the arrest of Dr. Anthony Fauci and billionaire vaccine supporter Bill Gates.
The attendees were greeted by counter-protesters with signs like “Tick Tock, Times Up.” Confrontation between the groups had already started Friday, and by Saturday morning D.C. police had made two arrests. A 25-year-old from Virginia was arrested for threats to bodily harm, and a 33-year-old from Hawaii was arrested for assaulting an officer.
By Saturday night, a spate of clashes had erupted between the two sides and police said they made at least 20 arrests. One person was also stabbed amid the fighting, NBC Washington reported, citing DC Fire and EMS. No details were immediately available on the victim’s condition.
Speakers included former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka and Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, the one-time QAnon believer who just won a House seat in Georgia.
In his address to the crowd, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) laid out a convoluted story that suggested the deep state was spying on his communications with Trump, claiming U.S. Army soldiers in Germany stole a server involved in the fictitious election theft.
“Folks this was a cheated election, and we won’t let it stand,” he said.
MyPillow founder and Trump ally Mike Lindell made his own election fraud claims, insisting that Trump had, in fact, won in a landslide. “We have to win, because this is a way of life,” he said.
Footage posted on social media appeared to show Trump supporters and counter-protesters shoving each other on Saturday morning.
After speeches, the marchers walked to the Supreme Court and demanded the justices intervene to hand the race to Trump.
A large group of Trump supporters heckled a small group of counter-protesters, chanting “four more years”. Police appeared to succeed in keeping by the two sides apart.
The march broke up around 4 p.m., as police told demonstrators they didn’t have a permit to rally at the Supreme Court
The rally came amid a spike in coronavirus cases in D.C., with the city government imposing a mandatory quarantine on people visiting from most states. Mask wearing at the rally was low, with at best a third of attendees wearing a face covering. More than 194,000 cases of the coronavirus were reported in the U.S. the day before.
Biden spent his Saturday on a bike ride with his wife in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He told reporters there he was closer to picking a cabinet.