Hundreds of law enforcement officials have mobilized across Washington as thousands of supporters refusing to accept President Donald Trump’s electoral defeat flooded the nation’s capital in protest, in some cases fighting with authorities, as Congress rallied to put the final seal on President-elect Joe Biden. victory.
Thousands of protesters gathered around the Washington Monument on Wednesday morning as Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer” played on speakers.
The song was interrupted by an advertisement telling people to leave backpacks, chairs and poles so that people could go through a security check.
Hundreds of people carried flags. Some were American, some were Trump 2020 flags, at least one said “F * CK BIDEN” with the letter U replaced by a flag symbol.
As part of their preparations, the police posted signs around the district warning of the illegality of gun possession during the protests as Trump tweeted his support for the protesters, saying, “Our country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore!” and “We heard it (and we love it) from the Oval Office.”
The Department of Homeland Security, which has a “Virtual Situation Room” to aid communication between different agencies, “is not currently tracking any active threats,” said spokesman Alexei Woltornist.
Trump traveled a short distance from the White House to the rally Wednesday morning.
About 20 aides were outside waiting for Trump’s departure, audibly yelling “Save our country” as he got into his truck.
Trump punched and appeared to blow a kiss.
Trump addressed a crowd of Ellipse supporters, tightly packed and largely unmasked.
His comments got off to an unfavorable start when Trump’s microphone appeared to be off when he began to speak.
“We can’t hear you!” Members of the audience were heard screaming in the video feed, although he appeared unconscious and continued to speak.
Moments later, the audio was restored and Trump criticized the media.
Trump’s speech included calls for his vice president to step outside his constitutional limits and overturn the election results.
“I hope Mike does the right thing,” Trump said at a rally at the Ellipse. “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.”
Pence published a letter he wrote to Congress on Wednesday shortly after noon, saying he would not oppose Biden’s victory.
A large glass barrier protected Trump from the crowd, similar to when he spoke in front of the Lincoln Memorial on July 4, 2019.
Before Trump’s speech, Rudy Giuliani was addressing the rally on the Ellipse, repeating unsubstantiated claims that the voting machines were “crooked” and continuing to insist that Pence can do something today to change the outcome of the election, for which it has no power. do. There is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud.
“Let’s do trial by combat!” Mr. Giuliani told the enthusiastic crowd.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said the district is “absolutely prepared” for the protests and announced that at least ten people were arrested overnight in connection with the protests.
At least one person was arrested for carrying a weapon without a license and six people were charged with battery, including one for assaulting a police officer.
“We had several arrests related to that activity, but none of them were DC residents,” he said.
Authorities – a mix that includes local police, the National Guard and uniformed federal officers – had already arrested several people before the demonstrations, including the leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right group that Trump directly addressed. during a fall debate to “back up and get high.”
Proud Boys leader Henry Tarrio, who goes by the name Enrique Tarrio, was released from police custody Tuesday on charges related to a protest last month and was ordered by a local judge to stay out of DC while awaiting trial, including during this week’s trial. protests.
In the days leading up to the march scheduled for Wednesday, police put up posters declaring the areas where they expect protesters to be gun-free zones between Monday and Thursday. “ALL firearms prohibited within 1000 feet of this sign,” they read, taped to utility poles.
Protesters dressed in pro-Trump garb gathered across the city on Tuesday, while others posted photos from their trip to Wednesday’s rally on social media.
Several speakers Tuesday led the crowd in chants of “four more years,” even as Trump has nearly exhausted legal avenues to turn the tide against Biden.
Speakers one after another made claims that the election was stolen, imploring people to “fight” for victory on Wednesday.
Trump’s loss has been reaffirmed by courts and state election officials dozens of times since the election.
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