Pro-Trump rallies draw thousands to D.C.

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Thousands gathered in D.C. on Saturday for pro-Trump rallies in support of the president’s claims of widespread voter fraud leading to a victory for Joseph R. Biden.

Supporters flocked to the District’s downtown area for the Million MAGA March and the March for Trump, both of which attracted thousands of participants last month.

Before flying over Freedom Plaza in Marine One, President Trump tweeted “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA.”

Several speakers energized supporters including Georgia Rep. Vernon Jones and retired Gen. Mike Flynn.

Pro-Trump flags, banners, hats and signs dotted the crowd which yelled chants including “Four more years!”; “We want Trump!” and “Stop the steal!”

Siu Wong, 55, and his family traveled from New York to show support for President Trump, who he said won the election.

“We’ve come here to support Trump,” Mr. Wong said. “To let everybody know that we like freedom and we don’t want socialism in this country.”

Heather Holmes, 58, traveled from Pennsylvania to last month’s rally and said she decided to make the trip again to “support our country, support our republic, and to fight for freedom, and to stop the steal.”

“President Trump, I don’t care what people think of him as a person, you have to look at his record and what he’s doing and he is so important for the future of our nation and our republic,” Ms. Holmes said. “I am here not just to support him, but [also] our freedom and our constitutional freedoms which continue to be taken away with COVID-19 and the restrictions we’ve experienced.”

Meanwhile, about a half mile north of the Trump rally, people gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza for counter demonstrations.

Activist coalition Defend D.C.’s “All out against facism” event aimed to “provide a counterpoint to right wing rallies being held” and “to defend marginalized communities and protect the newly-memorialized Black Lives Matter Plaza from right wing attack,” according to a press release.

The group’s website stated during the rallies last month Trump supporters and the Proud Boys were “destroying community artwork and memorials and starting fights with locals.”

Residents Nicos Ledakis, 21, and Daisy Holtgers, 21, came to the plaza together.

“We saw a huge crowd coming from outside of our city, from all over the country here, to demonstrate and support something that we don’t really believe in,” said Mr. Ledakis. “And we feel like we need to be here and let our voices be heard and let them know how the people of D.C. feel about what they’re doing here.”

Ms. Holtgers added that they also showed up to help protect the plaza.

“Really the focus is just on protecting the street from people coming in and trying to disrupt our everyday lives here in D.C., said Ms. Holtgers. “There’s been a couple Trump supporters trying to come in, but people are very good at rallying around that and peacefully escorting them out of the area.”

The Metropolitan Police Department blocked off entry to the plaza at different times throughout the afternoon.

The agency also announced nearby street closures and no-parking areas at different times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday night, confrontations between Trump supporters and counterprotesters led to arrests, according to local news outlet WAMU.

During the Nov. 14 rallies, tensions between pro- and anti-Trump protesters were apparent. Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said the afternoon demonstrations were largely peaceful, but some violence erupted at night.

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