WASHINGTON – Thousands of protesters flooded Washington this weekend, especially around the Capitol and Supreme Court, to support President Donald Trump and his refusal to acknowledge defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump supporters, few wearing masks, began to trickle into the capital on Friday. But, by the start of Saturday’s “Million MAGA March,” thousands wearing American flag gear, Trump hats and even Proud Boys uniforms took to the streets to show their support for Trump’s reelection.
Despite no evidence to support allegations of voter fraud, many protesters felt strongly that the election had been unfairly conducted. Others simply came for the show.
The Epps family, who traveled to Washington from Greenville, South Carolina said they felt their votes were not counted in the 2020 election. They added that this is “bigger than Trump or (President-elect Joe) Biden, it is about preserving the republic.”
In South Carolina, Donald Trump won 55.1% of votes with 99% of votes counted. The state added nine electoral votes to Trump’s total. And in Greenville, Trump garnered 58.1% of votes.
“We’re going to lose access to all of our freedoms. We’re going to be forced to take a vaccine, they’re going to take away people’s food stamps,” Epps’ mother said. “How would you feel about people taking away your freedoms?”
As coronavirus cases surge throughout the U.S., pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced its vaccine candidate was testing 90% effective. The Epps said they fear that getting the vaccine will be mandated under the Biden administration, although he has only said he favors a mask mandate.
The number of food stamp recipients declined during Trump’s presidency. About 6 million people stopped receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, since February 2017. SNAP generally tracks with the official poverty rate, which had been on the decline since 2010. Biden has made no reference to cutting food stamps.
John and Debbie Tower came to Washington from North Carolina for the march. To them, Trump has been a great president because “he is a man of God.” They said that they particularly supported his Israeli foreign policy platform, noting that the majority of Israelis favored Trump over Biden.
“If Biden is— fairly— elected, we’d be OK with it,” John said. “Regardless of who is president, we just want to make sure religion is prioritized.”
Both presidential candidates have platforms that openly support strengthening relations between Israel and the United States.
Mitch, who declined to give a last name because of possible employment repercussions, came from New York City to attend the rally because he thought “it would be interesting to see what happened,” claiming to not support either side but rather “the side of Christ.”
“Jesus died for everybody so I am here to share the Gospel,” Mitch said.
The most important issue to him in this year’s election was “the solvency of the nation,” which he said Trump’s platform supports. When asked if he supports Black Lives Matter, he answered that he does in a “pure sense.” To him, it seems like Black Lives Matter has been “hijacked” by people who are carrying out crimes in the name of the organization.
More photos from Saturday’s rally:
When night fell, the day’s clashes between Trump supporters and counter-protesters escalated to heated confrontations. Trump hats and flags were set ablaze in Freedom Plaza, prompting the U.S. Park Police to move in. And city police officers in riot gear deployed to quash violent altercations, including the stabbing of three counter-protesters by members of the pro-Trump crowd. No tear gas or rubber bullets were used.
According to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, twenty-one people were arrested, six on gun-related charges. A couple from Georgia was caught with 10 weapons that they were not permitted to carry in Washington. One of the charges against them included “possession of a large ammunition feeding device.” They were released from police custody on Monday.