Thousands rally behind Trump after spurious ‘stolen election’ claims

Maga march
Maga march (AP)
4:24am, Sun 15 Nov 2020
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Thousands of supporters of US president Donald Trump have rallied behind his spurious claim of a stolen election and swarmed his motorcade in Washington DC when he detoured for a drive-by on his way out of the city.

The “Million Maga March” took place along Washington DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue from Freedom Plaza, near the White House.

Police arrested at least 20 people on a variety of charges, including assault and weapons possession, officials said.

One stabbing was reported, two police officers were injured and several firearms were also recovered by police.

A week after the presidential race was called for Mr Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden, participants’ fury at the prospect of a transfer of executive power showed no signs of abating. Many of the marchers had taken their cue from a president unrelenting in his assertion that he won an election he actually lost.

Mr Trump persists, even though a broad coalition of US government and industry officials declared that the November 3 vote and the following count unfolded smoothly with no more than the usual minor hiccups, repudiating the president’s efforts to undermine the integrity of the contest.

Crowds began to gather in the morning when cheers rang out as Mr Trump’s limousine neared Freedom Plaza, with people lining up on both sides of the street.

Some stood just a few feet away from Mr Trump’s vehicle, while others showed their enthusiasm by running along with the caravan.

After making the short detour for the slow drive around the rally site, the motorcade headed to the president’s Virginia golf club.

Proud Boys (AP)

Among the speakers was a Georgia Republican newly elected to the US house of representatives.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed racist views and support for QAnon conspiracy theories, urged people to march peacefully toward the US supreme court.

The marchers included members of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group known for street brawling with ideological opponents at political rallies.

The march was largely peaceful, with some tension along the margins as counter-demonstrators heckled the Trump supporters with chants of: “You lost!”

Trump plays golf (AP)

The “Million Maga March” was heavily promoted on social media, raising concerns that it could spark conflict with anti-Trump demonstrators, who have gathered near the White House in Black Lives Matter Plaza for weeks.

In preparation, police closed off wide areas of the city centre, where many shops and offices have been boarded up since election day.

Chris Rodriguez, director of the city’s homeland security and emergency management agency, said the police were experienced at keeping the peace.

The issues Mr Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots to be miscast or lost.

Protests in Washington (AP)

With Mr Biden leading the president by wide margins in key battleground states, none of those issues would have any impact on the outcome of the election.

Mr Trump’s campaign has also filed legal challenges, complaining that its poll watchers were unable to scrutinise the voting process.

Many of those challenges have been dismissed by judges, some within hours of their filing.

A former administration official, Sebastian Gorka, whipped up the crowd by the supreme court by saying: “We can win because he did win.”

But he added: “It’s going to be tough.”

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