A cluster of far-right extremists including neo-fascists, white nationalists and militia members are expected to descend on Washington D.C. Saturday, amidst President Trump’s refusal to accept his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Far-right turnout could be significant. Pro-Trump protesters have already arrived in the thousands at so-called Stop the Steal events, even those staged in smaller cities like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Pro-Trump figures have been promoting the D.C. event for over a week. The Saturday event also coincides with Trump and his allies espousing increasingly anti-democratic views about his loss.
The D.C. protest appears to have three titles, all of which appear to represent the same protest: “Million MAGA march,” a name bastardizing Louis Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March in Washington; “Stop the Steal;” and “March for Trump.”
“Stop the Steal” is a reboot of a 2016 project launched by convicted felon Roger Stone to dispute votes in multiracial neighborhoods. “March for Trump,” is a brand for the event which was promoted by FOX News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday. Twitter users retweeted Hannity’s post advertising the event over 11,000 times in less than 24 hours, offering an indication of the potential enthusiasm for the event.
An Instagram post for an account purporting to speak for the Million MAGA march claims that a number of far-right social media influencers are expected to attend it, potentially bringing their fans with them. The apparent lineup includes One America News Network (OANN) correspondent Jack Posobiec, whose rise as a public figure is tied to the white supremacist movement, male supremacist and disinformation peddler Mike Cernovich, and white nationalist live-streamer Nick Fuentes. Those three men have roughly 2 million Twitter followers combined, not accounting for people who follow all three personalities or two of the three.
“CALLING ALL PATRIOTS IT IS MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE,” Nick Fuentes wrote to Twitter on Nov. 7 about Saturday’s event.
The flyer also lists as attendees anti-immigrant pundit Michelle Malkin of VDARE, Jaden McNeil, a Kansas State student and live-streamer known in part for making racist comments, and Scott Presler, formerly of the anti-Muslim hate group Act for America. Cassandra Fairbanks, a far-right extremist who blogs for the junk news website Gateway Pundit, has also promoted the event. The highly trafficked Gateway Pundit has pushed the false assertion that Trump is winning the 2020 election since polls closed on Nov. 3.
Street brawlers are also expected to attend. Members of the violent neo-fascist group the Proud Boys published a virtual flyer on the right-wing social media website Parler on Tuesday, urging members to attend. Trump infamously suggested that The Proud Boys “stand back and stand by” during a contentious televised debate with Biden held at the end of September.
An account representing the antigovernment militia group Three Percenters - Original, published a similar flyer to Parler around the same time. Stewart Rhodes, leader of the militaristic far-right antigovernment group the Oath Keepers has contributed commentary to the far-right conspiracy website Infowars in the runup to the election, advocating the use of violence to vanquish perceived enemies of Trump. The Oath Keepers are promoting the event through the group’s website, writing “Oath Keepers and patriots, duty calls! We must all march on Washington D.C. and directly back-up and defend President Trump as he fights against the ongoing coup that is attempting to steal the election. Start rolling toward DC now!”
Infowars' performers, including its founder Alex Jones and host Owen Shroyer, are also promoting the D.C. event and are expected to attend. Jones and Cernovich appeared at a protest event in Phoenix in the immediate aftermath of the election where people in the crowds carried guns. Although some extreme far-right groups and personalities expected to attend embrace the open display of guns at protest events, Washington D.C. forbids people from doing so. Gun enthusiast and newly elected Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted about the event Thursday and indicated she plans to attend. Greene has been linked to QAnon in the past but disavowed those beliefs earlier this year on Fox News.
Joey Gibson, leader of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, whose members have engaged in street violence throughout the Trump era, published a video to Twitter urging his followers on that website to attend. Gibson’s commentary suggests a kind of all-hands-on-deck approach to the filling up the streets in D.C. on Saturday.
“Again, I’m asking everybody, everybody, everybody who can … okay, everybody show up to Washington DC. Especially if you’re on the east coast. Especially if you’re within driving distance of DC. Be there, guys,” Gibson implored his followers in the video.
Despite the degree to which far-right social media influencers have supported the D.C. protest event, not everything has gone smoothly in its rollout. Pro-Trump activist Amy Kremer posted to Twitter on Tuesday that the event promotion website Eventbrite stopped working with organizers of the March for Trump rally. She accused tech companies of “trying to shut down our march.” Kremer also appeared on OANN with Posobiec this week to promote the event and said that there are “ thousands who are coming.”
Despite Kremer’s boast, a spokesperson for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department confirmed to Hatewatch that no one had sought a permit for the event. The spokesperson told Hatewatch department officials are aware of the online discussion around the protest and are “monitoring and assessing” the situation for potential security threats. The police have also preemptively published a traffic advisory based upon the expectation that something will happen.
Meanwhile, Ali Alexander, a man who traffics in disinformation on Twitter, has used that website to try to expand the protest to other cities. He urged people who cannot make the D.C. protest on Saturday to show up and demonstrate Trump’s election loss at every state capital starting at noon.
Stirring up the mob
While Trump’s fans on the far right coordinate a street-level response to his loss to Biden, the president and his allies have also increasingly embraced actions and rhetoric that signal an unwillingness to accept his defeat. Some commentators have described Trump’s rejection of the election results as being part of a coup attempt.
“People will not accept this Rigged Election!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday night, responding to right-wing social media performer Scott Adams’s suggestion that people were being “brainwashed to accept the results” of Biden’s electoral college and popular vote win.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on Tuesday that “officials in dozens of states representing both political parties” told that paper that, “there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race.”
The Times reporting cuts against repeated claims made not only by Trump, but also by the groups and social media personalities expected to appear in D.C. on Saturday. They have repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that Democrats stole the election from President Trump or are trying to destroy the country.
“THE REPUBLIC WILL DIE IF you don’t show up in [D.C.] or at your state capital on SATURDAY at NOON your local time,” Ali Alexander tweeted on Monday.
Photo illustration by SPLC ( Pictured, top from left: Alex Jones, Jack Posobiec, Joey Gibson, Nick Fuentes; bottom, from left: Michelle Malkin, Mike Cernovich, Stewart Rhodes, Cassie Fairbanks. Source photos from Getty Images and AP Images)