MAGA in Washington, D.C. Dec. 12, 2020
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
This weekend, MAGA supporters descended down on Washington again, coming two weeks after their prior rally. They came in response to voter fraud, although this claim has been unsubstantiated by any evidence and rarely occurs in U.S. elections. Beyond that, there was a sense of overwhelming loyalty to the current President, which may have also sparked people’s motivation to come into the city and support him this weekend. There weren’t so many calls to action or speeches regarding faulty votes as there were chants like “Trump, Trump, four more years!” One woman responded, “Trump, Trump, forever!”
Throughout the afternoon, MAGA ralliers marched down the streets, across Judiciary Square and sprawled out onto Pennsylvania Avenue. “Four more years!” and, “Say no to Joe” could be heard from the White House to the Capitol. Blue Trump flags waived overhead and Trump merchandise was sold on street corners. Smiling, unmasked faces could be seen. It looked as though Trump was having a rally or like he had just won the 2020 election, rather than protesters coming to proclaim disgruntlement with voter fraud. The Proud Boys were present, outfitted with bulletproof vests and yellow undershirts. They moved especially close to one another, more as a militant force which contrasted to the otherwise strewn-about pool of Trump supporters. Although canny during small talk, the underlying nodes of radicalism and extremism for which The Proud Boys stood for were not easy to dismiss.
As the afternoon turned to evening, tension rose and with that came vicious outbursts of violence. The presence of The Proud Boys and other MAGA supporters caused backlash from left-wing groups, including Antifa and BLM protesters. This protest came only months after the world witnessed George Floyd’s suffocation as well as countless other deaths and injuries caused by police brutality, making the scene on Saturday evening even more chaotic and tense.
D.C. police barricaded the streets by linking arms or placing their bicycles side by side, swiftly rearranging their structure, moving from street to street based on the movements of protesters. It was clear that they were trying to protect Trump ralliers and the Proud Boys from counter protesters, keeping one side of the street blocked off from exposure to the opposing side. As crowds dispersed though, violence rose when protesters were left with less protection and backing by their respective groups. One couple tried to make their way back to their hotel while being swung and hit at from angry protesters. Police forces fired rockets into the air, and smoke bombs could be seen, their smells wafting overhead. A group of Trump supporters lifted their arms in the air, conjuring prayers in response to the chaos that erupted in front of them. A sort of war had begun on 16th & I.
By the end of the night, dozens were arrested and nine people were injured-four of whom were stabbed and in critical condition. It is difficult to tell what will come after this night, whether protesters will continue to come or whether the crowds will slowly die off. One thing that is for sure- neither side will back down.