At least six people were arrested in Washington DC on Tuesday night and evening as thousands of people prepared for major protests in support of President Trump on Wednesday, CBS DC subsidiary WUSA-TV reported, citing local and U.S. park police. The charges included a gun count, illegal possession of fireworks and an attack on a police officer.
Videos on social media showed some clashes between protesters and police.
Mr Trump’s supporters descended into the country’s capital to settle his unfounded demands for election fraud, ahead of the highly controversial vote in Congress on Wednesday, which confirms Joe Biden’s election victory. The president is expected to personally address his supporters Wednesday morning at a demonstration on the Ellipse south of the White House.
Organizers said the meeting would continue throughout the day. An afternoon march is also planned for the U.S. Capitol, where Congress will vote to confirm the election results. Several prominent Trump supporters were expected, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Just a few blocks from the White House, protesters – many without masks – gathered at Freedom Plaza on Tuesday to cancel the congressional vote. As temperatures dropped into the low 40s and continuous rain swept across the streets, hundreds remained in the mall until evening.
The president backed protesters on Twitter: “Washington is flooding people who don’t want the emboldened radical left-wing Democrats to steal the election victory. Our country is fed up, they don’t take it anymore! We hear (and love you) from the Oval Office. !
Among the speakers was former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was pardoned by the president after he was twice convicted of lying to the FBI in an investigation by Robert Mueller in Russia.
“We’re standing in the crucible of U.S. history,” Flynn told the mostly unmasked crowd. – This country is awake now.
Addressing the crowd was Trump’s longtime ally, Roger Stone, another recipient of the president’s grace.
The protests coincide with Wednesday’s congressional vote, which is expected to justify the results of the Electoral College, which Mr Trump continues to debate.
At the rallies, local officials and law enforcement prepared for possible violent street clashes. Many businesses in downtown Washington have stepped into their windows, fearing the protest could lead to riots in May and June when dozens of businesses were damaged.
District of Colombia, Mayor Muriel Bowser has called on national guard troops to help strengthen the city’s police force. He asked residents to stay away from downtown Washington and avoid confrontation with anyone “looking for a fight.” But he warned, “We will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents and not destroy our city.”
In addition to the National Guard, federal agents were on hand to see if they were needed quickly in the city this week.
According to the Federal Office of the Prison, about 100 “specially trained officers” were sent to the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice to assist other security personnel, but “remain in reserve capacity if necessary.”
The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, said it did not plan to deploy agents from customs and border guards until Wednesday’s demonstration, in contrast to the riots in Washington in May and June.
Election officials from both political parties, governors of key battlefield states and former Trump lawyers, William Barr said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Almost all of Trump and his allies ’legal challenges were dismissed by the judges, including two rejected by the Supreme Court.
The December 12 Trump party rally ended in violence when hundreds of Trump supporters, bearing the black-and-yellow signature of far-right far-right Proud Boys, sought confrontations with a group of local activists who tried to ban them from black. Matter Plaza is an area near the White House. Black Lives Matter banners were torn down and set on fire in at least two local black temples.
On Monday, police arrested the leader of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarro (36), after arriving in Washington before the protests. Tarrio was accused of burning one of the black Lives Matter banners in December and finding him with two high-capacity firearms stockpiles, police said. The judge on Tuesday signed a ban on Tarrio entering the Colombian district, with very limited exceptions related to his criminal case.