President Donald Trump has urged police in Washington, D.C., to not “hold back” on protesters who disrupted the so-called “Million MAGA March” this weekend, raising further fears the president is encouraging violence against his political opponents.
Thousands of Trump supporters marched in Washington Saturday, calling for the result of this month’s presidential election to be overturned. The demonstrators echoed false claims by the Trump campaign and its allies of widespread electoral fraud against the president, which they say illegally handed President-Elect Joe Biden victory.
Clashes erupted between counter-protesters and rally attendees on Saturday night. At least 20 people were arrested throughout the day, according to The Washington Post, including four people on gun charges. Two police officers were injured and a man in his 20s was in a critical condition having been stabbed in the back.
Footage from the scene showed people wearing clothes associated with the white supremacist Proud Boys group—which Trump refused to condemn during a presidential debate—clashing with Black Lives Matter racial justice demonstrators and anti-fascist protesters; broadly referred to as “Antifa” but incorrectly defined by Trump and others as a centralized organization.
The president also shared a tweet from far-right activist Andy Ngo showing counter-protesters assaulting a Trump supporter at the march, knocking him to the ground. Video posted by other users showed that the victim had earlier attacked counter-protesters.
“Human Radical Left garbage did this,” Trump said alongside Ngo’s video. “Being arrested now!”
There is no evidence to support the widespread electoral fraud that protesters marched against on Saturday. Election officials have said there is no evidence of irregularities that could have changed the result. Biden is due to be inaugurated on January 20 regardless of Trump’s legal challenges.
He will do so having received the largest number of votes for any presidential candidate in history. Trump received the second most in history, a reflection of the unusually high turnout in this month’s election.
Trump’s refusal to accept the result is preventing Biden’s transition team from using funds and access normally reserved for an incoming administration.
Observers have warned this will undermine the transition of power and potentially threaten national security, particularly as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic runs rampant through the U.S. with Thanksgiving and Christmas looming.