Demonstrators in support of President Donald Trump are planning to gather in Washington on Saturday, backing the president’s unproven claims of fraud in the November election.
Several rallies are scheduled for the day, including a Million MAGA March, a Women for Trump event and a Stop the Steal demonstration, which has leveled unproven claims of voter fraud in the presidential election.
Trump has refused to concede the presidential race to former Vice President Joe Biden, the projected winner of the Nov. 3 election, citing irregularities in several swing states. State election officials have reported no serious irregularities with the vote that would affect the outcome of the race.
The rallies have been promoted by conservative media personalities as well as white nationalists and have fueled plans of counter-demonstrations organized by anti-fascist and anti-racism groups.
The far-right Proud Boys say some of its members are attending, and The Washington Post reports that conspiracy theorist and Infowars broadcaster Alex Jones is leading a Stop the Steal caravan from Texas.
Pro-Trump protests are also expected to take place at other major cities across the country.
Trump tweeted Friday, “Heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support out there, especially the organic Rallies that are springing up all over the Country, including a big one on Saturday in D.C. I may even try to stop by and say hello.”
It is not clear how many people will turn up in Washington.
Christopher Rodriguez, Washington’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management director, said in a press conference Thursday that the city is aware of about a dozen organizations planning events in Washington but that most of the groups are expected to be small.
“I don’t want anyone to think we are talking about large numbers of folks,” he said.
Rodriguez stressed that violence will not be tolerated at the events.
The National Park Service said Friday it approved a permit request by Women for America First for 10,000 people to rally in Washington’s Freedom Plaza. It said the group originally applied for 50 participants but later updated the number.
Posts on social media promoting Stop the Steal events have been taken down by Facebook, drawing charges of censorship from the groups trying to organize the rallies.
Trump supporters are expected to congregate near Freedom Plaza, just east of the White House, while anti-Trump protesters are planning counter-demonstrations at Freedom Plaza, Union Station and the Supreme Court.
Police are planning road closures near the planned events. Law enforcement was on high alert last week over fears of election violence that did not materialize. Fears of violence also prompted some Washington businesses to close last week.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference this week that city police continue to be prepared.
“Our police chief will have a similar posture this weekend as he did last week. We will be there to support peaceful First Amendment demonstrations.”