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D.C. Expects A Far-Right Pro-Trump Demonstration

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Officials are expecting a variety of demonstrations in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Several far-right groups have been promoting an event online in an effort to further the president's baseless claims of election fraud. President Trump tweeted today that he might make an appearance. But as WAMU's Colleen Grablick reports, there will be counterprotests as well.

COLLEEN GRABLICK, BYLINE: D.C. police said they are aware of at least a dozen different groups coming to the city to protest President-elect Joe Biden's victory. They expect these groups to be small. At a press conference Thursday, Christopher Rodriguez, the director of the city's Homeland Security Agency, said city police are prepared to keep the demonstrations peaceful.

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CHRISTOPHER RODRIGUEZ: MPD is being very proactive in terms of the street closures, also making sure from a public messaging standpoint that people who come to the District know that you can't bring weapons into our city and you can't bring guns into our city and that violence will not be tolerated.

GRABLICK: The rally is planned for the city's Freedom Plaza. The National Park Service has issued a permit for 10,000 people. It's unclear how large the crowd might be. In the past, far-right demonstrators in D.C. have been easily outnumbered by opponents. At least three groups have announced their intentions to host counterdemonstrations.

Last week, businesses boarded up windows in preparation for possible election night violence that never materialized. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is urging businesses to take those down. She says the city will handle Saturday's events as it did Election Day demonstrations.

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MURIEL BOWSER: Our police chief will have a similar posture this weekend as he did last week. And we will be there to support peaceful exercise of First Amendment demonstrations.

GRABLICK: A host of right-wing figures have promoted the events on social media, but platforms have tried to prevent the spread of misinformation. Facebook and Eventbrite have removed posts promoting election protests in D.C., and Airbnb cancelled a booking for an alleged white nationalist who planned to attend.

For NPR News, I'm Colleen Grablick in Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.