Supporters of President Donald Trump — including members of the militant hate group the Proud Boys — fought with counterprotesters in Washington, DC, on Saturday night following the “Million MAGA March” rally that attracted crowds of thousands in the nation’s capital throughout the day.
During the day, the rally was largely peaceful, with only minor altercations between demonstrators and counterprotesters. But by evening, the violence reportedly intensified, leading to at least one hospitalization.
The Proud Boys, as Vox’s Fabiola Cineas has explained, are known for inciting violence, and reports from the scene note provocations coming from demonstrators, as well as from counterprotesters at various points. Video footage shows a number of street brawls breaking out in various parts of the city, including some fights that left onlookers asking for a greater police response.
During one such melee near the White House, baton-wielding Trump supporters fought with a group of counterprotesters in a brawl that left one man hospitalized after being stabbed in the back. Separately, an independent journalist said she believed she was stabbed in the ear by a member of the Proud Boys. Four police officers were injured.
DC law enforcement arrested at least 20 people for various charges, including for assault and firearms violations.
The daytime rally and night’s skirmishes reflect an intensifying social movement fueled by Trump’s disinformation efforts and far-fetched, ramshackle legal campaign to contest President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, though Biden has a wide margin of Electoral College votes, as Katelyn Burns explained for Vox:
The Million MAGA March is an offshoot of a larger “Stop the Steal” nationwide protest movement, which incorrectly claims Democrats conspired to steal the election from Republicans. The president’s supporters claim this theft was enacted in a variety of ways, from the Dominion voting machines — which are electronic and were used in many states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, among others — changing votes in key states, to a mishmash of false or weak claims about election observers being denied access to vote counts in swing state cities.
All of these claims have been rebutted by evidence — and some cases, by judges — but that has not stopped the president and his supporters from continuing to insist he actually won the election.
The fact that this movement is built upon false information and lies has not stopped it from gaining potency. And it has been stoked by Trump himself — for instance, the president drove by the march on Saturday morning and waved at supporters on Pennsylvania Avenue on his way to the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia.
Trump could’ve delivered a rousing speech to his followers at the Million MAGA March but instead he opted to drive through them so he could play golf. pic.twitter.com/HHH8wQVsyf— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 14, 2020
And the president has encouraged “Stop the Steal” supporters online as well. Early Sunday morning in the aftermath of the chaos, Trump sent out a tweet that admitted for the first time that Biden had won the election — but then blamed his loss on false conspiracy theories about a rigged election and mistreatment by the media.
1. "He won" is correct, but:— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 15, 2020
2. Trump's own govt has debunked idea election was rigged
3. Trump's own lawyers have conceded observers were there
4. Trump's own lawyers haven't provided any evidence of fraud
5. The media was not silent about these issues
Otherwise, great tweet https://t.co/fGedrH6uhB
Trump’s tweet summed up the futility of Saturday’s march well — it was full of debunked conspiracy theories, that his supporters are nevertheless committed to, while also revealing that their reason for being in the streets is at odds with the reality that the president has lost the contest.
That reality is becoming harder even for Trump to deny as his quixotic efforts to question the results of the election using legal challenges have taken several major blows in recent days. Many lawsuits have been rejected or abandoned in key states, and prominent law firms are withdrawing support for the president.
Trump’s legal machine is falling apart, and unable to alter the final outcome
On Friday, Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the election’s results suffered setbacks in three battleground states — all of which have been declared for Biden.
In Michigan, a state judge rejected a Republican request to halt the certification of the vote in Wayne County — where Detroit sits — as “unwieldy,” according to the New York Times. The GOP had also alleged a variety of inappropriate conduct at polling stations, charges which the judge dismissed as unspecific in some cases, and as “rife with speculation and guesswork” in others.
In Arizona, the Trump campaign abandoned a lawsuit alleging that ballots marked for Trump with felt-tipped markers had been unfairly thrown out — which was inspired by a false rumor — after determining that the number of votes at stake was too small to be meaningful, according to the Times.
And in Pennsylvania, a judge rejected six separate efforts by the Trump campaign to block the counting of nearly 9,000 mail ballots in two counties. The campaign had requested that those ballots be discounted because they were missing some requested information, like addresses or dates on outer envelopes, according to the Washington Post. Even if the ballots had been thrown out, however, the outcome in the state would have remained the same: Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 60,000 votes.
These defections and losses are merely among the latest setbacks to Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election through the courts. The Trump campaign and its allies have been filing a dizzying array of lawsuits — so many that, according to Politico, there is no accurate count of how many have been submitted. What is clear, however, is that Trump has a losing record: The campaign has won only one case and lost 15.
And that win — a ruling that Pennsylvania mail-in voters who failed to provide identification on or before November 9 will have their ballots discarded — won’t affect the current vote count. The minor number of ballots that will be affected had not yet been counted.
Despite these losses, and the fact that Biden has begun the work of transitioning into the presidency, Trump has continued to incorrectly claim that the election isn’t over — leading to supporters taking to the streets on his behalf. The president may never concede, but states will certify their results in early December, making legal challenges and false claims more difficult to make.