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Trump Supporters, Counterprotesters Clash At D.C. Rally Contesting Biden's Victory

One week after protesters celebrating President Trump's defeat filled the streets of Washington, demonstrators who deny his loss took their place.
One week after protesters celebrating President Trump's defeat filled the streets of Washington, demonstrators who deny his loss took their place.

Updated at 1:58 p.m. ET.

Thousands of President Trump's supporters were out in Washington, D.C., on Saturday for a day of rallying to echo the false assertion that the presidential election was marked by fraud.

One week after Joe Biden's presidential victory brought about spontaneous celebrations in the nation's capital, a crowd that included the group Women for America First, right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists gathered in the city's downtown near the White House.

On Friday, the National Park Service issued a permit for 10,000 people to attend the march, requested by Women for America First.
/ Tyrone Turner/WAMU
On Friday, the National Park Service issued a permit for 10,000 people to attend the march, requested by Women for America First.

Trump supporters brought campaign flags but not many masks to the Washington, D.C., demonstrations on Saturday.
/ Tyrone Turner/WAMU
Trump supporters brought campaign flags but not many masks to the Washington, D.C., demonstrations on Saturday.

Spurred by the election of Joe Biden as the next president last week, supporters of the current president demand election officials "stop the steal" near Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.
/ Tyrone Turner/WAMU
Spurred by the election of Joe Biden as the next president last week, supporters of the current president demand election officials "stop the steal" near Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.

Members of the Proud Boys, a white-nationalist movement designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, were also seen out on the streets of Washington.

A rally and a march to insist that Trump rightfully won a second term were planned for the day. The events are going by several names, including the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal DC.

By late Saturday morning, hundreds had assembled in Freedom Plaza near the White House.

Trump supporters — at events with names like the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal DC — hit the streets down the road from the U.S. Capitol.
/ Carol Guzy for NPR
Trump supporters — at events with names like the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal DC — hit the streets down the road from the U.S. Capitol.

Video showed attendees waving American and Trump 2020 flags. Few could be seen wearing a mask, even as the U.S. on Friday announced a new daily record of 184,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

At one point, the crowd was greeted by Trump himself, who rode past demonstrators in his mortorcade shortly after 10 a.m. Trump, who has refused to concede the election to Biden, waved to supporters who held out signs reading "Best prez ever" and "Stop the steal."

Trump had teased a possible appearance in a tweet on Friday, saying it was "Heartwarming" to see the support and that "I may even try to stop by and say hello."

The arrival of the so-called "stop the steal" caravans has raised concerns in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.

A handful of skirmishes broke out as counterprotesters attempted to prevent the removal of signs on fencing around the White House.

On Saturday morning, video posted by local activists showed what appeared to be a small group of rallygoers ripping down anti-racism and police brutality artwork in Black Lives Matter Plaza. That section of the city was renamed during massive racial justice protests over the summer.

Fears that attendees would bring guns — as was the case during anti-lockdown protests in several states in recent months — were also high.

On Saturday, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine tweeted out a reminder of local gun laws, which prohibit openly carrying a firearm and restrict where permitted conceal-carry weapons are allowed.

"No firearms are allowed around the White House, the National Mall, the Tidal Basin or the US Capitol – permit or no permit," Racine tweeted.

Washington, D.C.'s chief of police offered a similar warning.

Ahead of Saturday's events, police in Washington announced road closures and parking restrictions. A march to the Supreme Court was scheduled for 2 p.m. Counterprotests are also planned to take place.

NPR's Hannah Allam and member station WAMU contributed to this story.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.