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The Proud Boys, a violent far-right group which Donald Trump told to “stand by” during a September presidential debate, are expected to rally in Washington DC, on Saturday. They’re part of a constellation of groups and demonstrations heading to the capitol to protest the election result in a “Million MAGA March.”
“People want to show up and have their voice heard,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox on Thursday, when asked about the event. “I mean this president — look, he got more votes than any Republican nominee, or for president I should say, in the history of our country and indeed he got more Republican votes as any nominee in the history of our party back in 2016.”
The president did not win the presidential election, and in all likelihood lost the popular vote by millions, but he and his allies have continued to claim without evidence Democrats cheated the results in statements and a series of flagging lawsuits around the country.
The concurrent demonstrations in the capitol, including the Million MAGA March as well as various “Stop the Steal” events, are a physical manifestation of the outrage that’s spread in conservative circles online, and are expected to attract a broad cross-section of Trump-supporting factions, including radical anti-government vigilante groups like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, followers of conspiracy-peddling outlet Infowars, alt-right activists, neo-Nazis, as well other supporters of the president.
Many of the groups reportedly haven’t filed for or been accepted for events permits, and some of their organisers have been de-platformed from Facebook, Eventbrite and Mailchimp for spreading misinformation and other violations of those networks’ policies.
Washington mayor Muriel Bowser said she’s aware of groups like Proud Boys planning to attend, and is monitoring the situation.
"We continue to follow those activities and be prepared for those activities,” Ms Bowser told The Hill. “And we will be there to support peaceful exercise of First Amendment demonstrations,” she added.
The planned demonstrations have inspired a series of counter-events, including events called “F*** MAGA” from local anti-fascist and anarchist groups, who have brawled in the past with groups like the Proud Boys in cities like Portland.
It’s the latest in a series of clashing demonstrations, as president-elect Biden goes about setting up a new administration while the president and his supporters continue to protest the result.