On Saturday, Trump supporters gathered in Washington DC to dispute Joe Biden’s election win, while Alex Jones – with a security detail of Proud Boys – called for a ‘second American Revolution’
Yesterday, thousands of pro-Trump protesters descended on Washington DC for the so-called “Million MAGA March”: a gathering that brought together established far-right groups and supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, including everyone’s fave conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones. Also present were the Proud Boys, an alt-right group that gained notoriety after Trump mentioned them in a presidential debate in September, shortly before their Twitter hashtag was hijacked by the gay community.
Though Joe Biden recently solidified his victory in the 2020 US presidential election, with a rare Democratic win in the state of Georgia, Donald Trump continues to deny the result. Since Biden was declared president-elect on November 7, having won the key battleground of Pennsylvania, the outgoing president has repeatedly broadcasted claims of voter fraud, stirring his supporters to disrupt vote counting in his favour.
Unsurprisingly, the disputed election result was a focus point at the Washington DC rally too, with protesters chanting: “four more years” and “stop the steal”. Images of the crowd retweeted by Trump show hundreds of American flags, only outnumbered by flags reading “Trump 2020” and, of course, the ubiquitous MAGA hat.
It’s worth noting though, that the “Million MAGA March” didn’t quite live up to the hype, unlike 1995’s Million Man March from which it borrowed its name. The Million Man March – a historic gathering of African American men in Washington DC, organised by controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan – brought together several prominent civil rights activists to highlight issues affecting the African American community. Attendance figures were controversial, but estimated to be between 650,000 and one million demonstrators. The turnout of Trump supporters on Saturday was significantly lower.
Nevertheless, any outpouring of support for a president that refuses to concede an election is significant, especially as the mostly-peaceful daytime rally gave way to violent clashes between Trump supporters, counter demonstrators, and police as night fell over Washington DC.
Below, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about what went down at the “Million MAGA March”, as well as the response from Donald Trump (and K-pop stans, of course).
TRUMP SUPPORTERS TRAVELLED ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO ATTEND
Despite the fact that coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the US, with 11 million cases and 245,000 deaths recorded as of November 15, Trump supporters travelled to DC from as far as Los Angeles and Seattle, as well as states such as Florida and New York, as reported by the Guardian.
Beginning around noon on Saturday (5pm UK time) at the White House-adjacent Freedom Plaza, the demonstrations revolved around Trump’s baseless claims about election fraud. Later in the day, the crowd also moved on to the Supreme Court, where it was met with opposition from counter protesters.
FIGHTS BROKE OUT BETWEEN TRUMP SUPPORTERS AND COUNTER-PROTESTERS
Right wing commentators including Tomi Lahren have suggested that the Million MAGA March was peaceful, complimenting Trump supporters on their lack of violence and property destruction, and trying to contrast the rally with Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year (which were also, incidentally, mostly peaceful). However, the BBC reports that twenty people were arrested on various charges at the march, including assault and the possession of firearms.
Two police officers were injured in the clashes and another person was stabbed, according to the Associated Press. Videos shared to Twitter also show Trump supporters tearing down Black Lives Matter placards at the recently-renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.
As always, it’s important to watch out for misinformation surrounding the protests and the subsequent conflict shared on social media, with many videos and quotes lacking context. In one case, a widely-shared video – shared by right wing blogger Andy Ngô and retweeted by Trump – shows “BLM rioters knocking a man unconscious” while omitting the fact that he started the conflict, as seen in an uncut video.
ALEX JONES MADE AN APPEARANCE, ALONG WITH QANON
The QAnon conspiracy theory, which began on 4Chan and 8Chan messageboards, has grown its presence on more mainstream platforms and IRL throughout the Trump presidency, so much so that Facebook and other social media platforms have had to address it directly. Following appearances at previous Trump rallies, supporters of the conspiracy – and its enigmatic figurehead, Q – seemingly surfaced at the Million MAGA March as well, via pro-Q placards and dog whistle phrases referencing “The Storm”.
Never one to miss out on an audience for his wild conspiracy theories, Alex Jones was also in attendance, flanked by self-identified members of the far-right Proud Boys (read a brief history of the group here). Addressing the crowd, who were heard chanting his name as they marched, Jones spoke about a “second American Revolution” and led chants of “1776”.
In a particularly deranged (but characteristic) moment, Jones also stated: “We declare independence from that communist Chinese agent Joe Biden and his demonic paedophile family.”
WHAT DOES DONALD TRUMP THINK ABOUT ALL OF THIS?
Trump has been stoking conspiracies about voter fraud since the November 3 presidential election, and even warned before that, should he lose, he would declare it rigged. In a previous press conference, he refused to explicitly condemn far-right groups – instead, he what about-ed about left-wing groups like Antifa, and told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”. It comes as no surprise, then, that Trump has been vocal in his support for the Million MAGA March. He even made a (very brief) appearance at the event, giving a wave as he drove by on his way to play golf on Saturday morning.
Trump has continued to tweet claims that the media has suppressed the voice of his supporters since the rally, a claim echoed at the march itself. He has also decried the actions of “Radical Left ANTIFA SCUM” and told police: “do your job and don’t hold back!”
Trump has attempted to overturn the election result in courts since Biden’s win, and has refused to begin transition proceedings, but has faced setbacks in multiple states – including Philadelphia and Pennsylvania – as judges reject his team’s requests to invalidate mail-in ballots. A lawsuit has also been dropped in Arizona after it became clear that the Democratic lead was to large to be affected by a review.
ANTIFA SCUM ran for the hills today when they tried attacking the people at the Trump Rally, because those people aggressively fought back. Antifa waited until tonight, when 99% were gone, to attack innocent #MAGA People. DC Police, get going — do your job and don’t hold back!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020
AND WHAT ABOUT THE K-POP STANS?
By now, K-pop stans have a fairly long history of trolling Donald Trump, and they didn’t disappoint with the Million MAGA March, aiding a campaign to flood the event’s hashtag on social media with pictures of pancakes (insert pun about flipping states here). The small act of resistance has also garnered support from the likes of Bette Midler and George Takei, and tbh scrolling through a feed full of delicious-looking pancakes is the kind of escapism we need right now.