The nation’s capital was the site of violent clashes on Tuesday as pro-Trump protesters took to the streets on the eve of Congress’ vote to certify the Electoral College votes and Joe Biden’s victory. Thousands of Trump supporters are gathering in D.C. to march for the president’s last-ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election. The city has been preparing for mass upheaval by increasing police presence and mobilizing the National Guard, and officials are warning residents to stay away from the downtown area, parts of which were full of demonstrators on Wednesday. They’ve also had to issue reminders that it is illegal to bring firearms into National Park Service areas.
Most of the skirmishes on Tuesday occurred later in the night after the official rallies planned for the day had ended. According to D.C.’s local ABC station, some minor scuffles ensued as a result of protesters getting into arguments with counterprotesters, though police were trying to keep the conflicting groups away from each other. The Washington Post also reports that, in one case, a group of about 200 Trump supporters approached a police line shortly after 10 p.m. at Black Lives Matter Plaza, a gathering place for activists close to the White House. People punched and shoved at the line, and officers used pepper spray to break up the crowd. A woman and two D.C. police officers were sent to the hospital as a result, according to a D.C. Fire and EMS Department spokesperson. Videos posted to social media appear to show protesters attempting to rush past the police line and an incident in which a larger fight broke out as a result of two people arguing. There was a total of six arrests connected to the protests on Tuesday for charges including assaulting police officers and weapons violations.
The demonstrators, in several incidents captured on social media, seemed to get in arguments with one another as Democrats’ success in the Georgia runoff elections on Tuesday became clear.
D.C. police have been trying to proactively deal with extremists who plan on showing up to the city. On Monday afternoon, the leader of far-right Proud Boys group, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested upon arriving to D.C. on charges that he burned a Black Lives Matter banner ripped from a historic Black church during a demonstration in December. He was also charged for having two high-capacity firearm magazines on his person. A judge released him on Tuesday on the condition that he leave the city. DCist reports that, based on their social media posts, the Proud Boys are again planning to wreak havoc in the city.