A crowd waving American flags and wearing Make America Great Again hats gathered Saturday in Freedom Plaza in support of President Donald Trump and his allegations of voter fraud in the presidential election.
Later in the evening, the scene became unruly. WRC-TV reported that four people were taken to a hospital with stab wounds, and the Metropolitan Police Department told the station 23 people were arrested. Videos posted to social media showed confrontations between Trump supporters and opponents and people wearing pro-Trump attire attacking bystanders. In one incident, a bystander pulled out a knife after arguing with Trump supporters. In another, police pepper-sprayed people involved in a scuffle.
Earlier, the mood in Freedom Plaza was celebratory as speakers including Sebastian Gorka claimed Trump had won the election and urged demonstrators to keep the pressure on state legislatures. A few blocks away, things were getting tense near Black Lives Matter Plaza, not far from the White House. Police in riot gear formed a line to separate members of the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group, from counterprotesters. Proud Boys antagonized police, demanding to be let through and trading expletives with counterprotesters.
On Saturday night, more videos posted to social media showed fights and documented far-right demonstrators burning a Black Lives Matter banner. The violence escalated after dark, even as police worked to keep Proud Boy members away from counterprotesters, according to The Washington Post. Across the country in Olympia, Washington, police arrested one person after a shooting near a number of demonstrations, including a group that wanted coronavirus restrictions lifted, another protesting Trump’s loss in the presidential election last month, and a Black Lives Matter counterprotest.
The rally in Washington, D.C., was organized by Women for America First, a conservative group that organized last month’s Stop the Steal rally, which drew tens of thousands of people. As many as 15,000 people had been expected Saturday, according to the group’s permit.
Trump tweeted Saturday morning that he was unaware of the event, “but I’ll be seeing them!” People cheered as he flew on Marine One on his way out of town for the Army-Navy football game in West Point, New York.