Trump supporters plan D.C. rally before electoral college votes cast

Women for America First, a group of conservative women at the center of organizing last week’s “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, has filed for another protest permit from the National Park Service.

On Dec. 12, according to the permit application, organizers again expect thousands of Trump faithful to gather in downtown D.C. The Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group known for their black-and-yellow garb and endorsement of violence, seemed to confirm on social media they would also be attending.

The Park Service has not yet granted the group’s request, although permits are not typically issued until the week of an event.

The Saturday rally, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., would bring a crowd of the president’s most ardent supporters to Washington two days before electors from each state and the District meet and vote for their designated candidates.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to walk away with 306 electoral votes — surpassing the 270 needed to win the White House — with Trump getting 232.

Women for America First organizers, who were not available Friday to comment, have been promoting the December event on social media and encouraging Trump supporters to attend.

Last weekend, hundreds of counterprotesters showed up to meet the roaring crowd of mostly maskless Trump supporters — two opposing groups that were kept separated by barricades and police lines for much of the day.

But skirmishes and flashes of violence broke out as night fell, with groups roaming through downtown. Demonstrators on both sides were bloodied and attacked. D.C. police said nearly two dozen people were arrested, including several on gun charges. One person was stabbed and four police officers were injured, officials said.

Anti-Trump activists snatched red MAGA hats off the heads of Trump supporters and set them ablaze, feeding Trump 2020 flags into the fire as the night wore on.

Trump supporters ripped down signs declaring “Black Lives Matter” and defaced artwork and memorials for Black people killed by police that line the long black fence that encircles Lafayette Square — a site that for months has been at the center of racial justice protests.

Members of the Proud Boys and a handful of extremist groups chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets,” discussing plans to draw counterprotesters into confrontations.

Chris Ballard, a spokesman for Women for America First, last week had said the group would “welcome all peaceful protesters in support of President Trump” and that the group did not condone violence.

In the application filed with the Park Service this week, the group appeared to acknowledge the likelihood it would again draw counterprotests from D.C. activists and anti-fascist protesters.

“After this weekend we will make sure to have a plan to ensure the safety of attendees,” organizer Cindy Chafian wrote. It wasn’t clear what that plan would entail.

Counterprotests already have been announced by a number of anti-Trump organizations, although details remain sparse.

The Women for America First group requested the same venue as its last demonstration, Freedom Plaza, but a spokesman for the Park Service said that location had already been requested by another organization.

It’s likely the pro-Trump rally will instead be held at the Lincoln Memorial, according to the Park Service.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who was attacked in a letter by congressional Republicans this week for not better protecting pro-Trump demonstrators during last weekend’s demonstrations, did not respond to a request for comment.

On the day Women for America First submitted its application for a second rally, D.C. protesters and supporters were gathered outside the White House to rebuild.

They repainted signs and posters. They affixed new slogans and photos to the fence with zip ties, and reassembled a memorial displaying the faces of Black men and women who have been killed by law enforcement.

The rebuild went on for two days.

After Saturday’s rally, D.C. protest groups admonished those who did not come out to stand against Trump supporters — particularly after thousands had packed downtown streets to celebrate Biden’s victory one week earlier.

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