Trump Supporters Signal Plans For Violent D.C. Protests Jan. 6
If a fraction of the discussions in online chat rooms have any basis in reality, Wednesday, Jan. 6, could turn Washington, D.C., into a scene of violence and chaos akin to what transpired after the killing of George Floyd. That’s because the Proud Boys, armed right-wing groups, conspiracy theorists, white supremacists and similar angry pro-Donald Trump groups are planning to protest throughout the nation’s capital that day against the Electoral College vote certification that will confirm Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
Formal rallies are planned throughout most of the day and will draw pro-Trump demonstrators to the Washington Monument, Freedom Plaza, National Mall and the Capitol. Women for America First, the group of conservative women behind a pro-Trump march in November and December’s Million MAGA March, which ended in a night of chaos on D.C. streets, have a permit from the National Park Service to hold a protest with about 5,000 attendees at Freedom Plaza.
Another protest, dubbed the “Wild Protest” in reference to Trump’s tweets about it, is scheduled for the northeast quadrant of the Capitol lawn. A smaller demonstration organized by a Trump supporter from South Carolina will lead a few hundred people from the Mall to the Capitol. And a new group called the Eighty Percent Coalition, a reference to the roughly three-quarters of Republicans who say they don’t trust the results of the presidential election, filed a permit request for a rally that organizers estimate could draw up to 10,000 people.
Trump himself has been encouraging his Twitter followers to converge on Washington for the protests, retweeting a message stating “The calvary is coming, Mr. President!” and “Be There, Will Be Wild.”
A great honor! https://t.co/U4WFBWrnF7
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2021
Fear is growing that any or all of the groups could be planning more than just marching and waving flags and signs. Law enforcement officials have intercepted encrypted chat conversations among groups that are trying to figure out how to smuggle guns into the District and set up an “armed encampment” on the National Mall.
Anonymous users have posted tips and strategies for smuggling firearms into D.C., where carrying without a permit is prohibited and guns are banned at protests. Neo-Nazis took to Telegram, an encrypted chat app that allows users to broadcast to a channel of subscribers, to encourage followers to attend, saying they need “boots on the ground” to intimidate lawmakers and push for a nationalist agenda.
The Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. isn’t taking any of this lightly. It has canceled officers’ time off and implemented road closures and parking restrictions across a wide swath of downtown Washington. Many businesses in the commercial areas surrounding the White House already are boarding up windows and doors in anticipation of the protests getting out of hand.
What’s more, some of Trump’s far-right supporters have announced plans to return to Washington on Jan. 17 and in the days around Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, during which some militants are touting a “Million Militia March.”