BY: HANNAH GANDAL
On Saturday, November 15th, violence quickly escalated as thousands of people gathered in D.C. for the “Million Maga March” to show their support for Donald Trump. This event took place just a week after Joe Biden was announced to be the 2020 president-elect, which many Trump supporters refuse to believe. These supporters came together to protest the results of the election and show the country that they are still standing with Donald Trump.
Protesters started the day by gathering at Freedom Plaza and marched to the Supreme Court. Many people in the crowd had traveled for hours to march in D.C. and show their support for Donald Trump. Throughout the day, the protesters erupted in cheers and chants for the president. Of these chants, one that was shouted in unison during the rally was “Proud Boys”. The Proud Boys is a neo-fascist, right-wing political organization that promotes and takes part in political violence. The group is typically associated with white supremacy, and many of them took part in Saturday’s march.
The March was likely powered by Trump supporters’ suspicion of the outcome of the election. These protesters have strong false beliefs that the election was rigged and that Donald Trump is the real winner. They did not trust the state ballot counts or the media in determining the election winner. Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump administration official, spoke at the march. “We can win because he did win”, he said. These false beliefs are likely to stem from Trump’s own claims that there was fraudulent activity involved in the election, and that he had already won. Stevan Roknic, a protester at the march, shared his thoughts about the election with The Guardian. “Trump was winning, he had the election in a landslide”, he said. “And then in the middle of the night they stopped doing the count, and mysteriously all these votes showed up for Joe Biden. I don’t buy it”.
As the sun went down, the rally turned violent and frightening very quickly. Conflict arised as Anti-Trump counterprotesters clashed with protesters as their differing political views resulted in violence. Some counter protesters came to show Trump supporters that he lost, and that the election is over. Each group harassed and shouted at each other, but things escalated very quickly. As the night went on, there were multiple fistfights, assaults and even a brutal stabbing. A number of firearms were found during the rally and were taken away from their owners by police. More than 20 were arrested and charges such as weapon possession and assault were filed against them. The night left many people bloody and injured, including two police officers who were wounded.
Trump showed his support for this tense rally as he sent his motorcade through areas of D.C. where his supporters were gathered on the morning of the march. His supporters cheered and excitedly ran after him as he drove by. Their certainty that he won the election was apparent, considering how high their spirits were. A loyal supporter of Trump, Anthony Whittaker, told The Chicago Tribune, “I just want to keep up his spirits and let him know we support him”.
2020 has been one of the United States’ most divided years in history. The Million Maga March was one of the outcomes of this division. One of the country’s most critical elections, affected by a pandemic and an ongoing racial crisis, caused supporters of both candidates to turn to violence. This violence was fueled by the president of the United States refusing to concede that he lost this year’s election, dividing the country even more. Major news outlets such as CNN and USA Today have not found any evidence of the widespread voter fraud that Donald Trump and his supporters who gathered at the Million Maga March believe to have happened. Jan Bisaga, a counter protester at the march, told USA Today of his thoughts regarding the rally and the election. “Them marching isn’t changing the outcome just like me being out here isn’t doing anything”, he said, laughing.