‘Million MAGA March’ on DC: What to know

The “Million MAGA March” is returning to D.C. on Saturday after a tumultuous, tension-filled showing last month that included stabbings and arrests.

According to the event’s website, which provides no contact information, around 17,000 supporters say they’re headed to the District for a rally around the National Sylvan Theater on the Mall — which is currently closed — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The purpose of the march is to protest election fraud, but there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, both Republican and Democratic election officials have said the election went well, and international observers confirmed no serious irregularities.

No information about coronavirus precautions or guidance is listed on the “Million MAGA March” site.

Women for America First posted what it is calling a D.C. “No Go Zone,” advising participants to avoid staying in certain downtown hotels to avoid potential violence. The group also said it’ll provide private security escorts for people who feel unsafe returning to their hotels once the event ends.

Response against Saturday’s march

ShutdownDC launched an effort in newsletters and social media posts, saying “conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, Proud Boys and MAGA supporters marched on our streets while refusing to wear masks” in November.

The group is also asking local hotels, including the JW Marriott DC, the Grand Hyatt Washington, Crowne Plaza Crystal City and the Holiday Inn National Airport, to refuse rooms to MAGA March attendees.

Harry’s Bar, which is in danger of losing its liquor license after becoming a haven for supporters of President Donald Trump who refused to follow local COVID-19 restrictions, is another focus of ShutdownDC’s ire.

The venerable pub in the Harrington Hotel just off Pennsylvania Avenue received a pair of $1,000 fines in November for multiple violations of local COVID-19 restrictions, including overcrowding and patrons not wearing masks.

Harry’s had previously received a warning in October after Trump retweeted a video showing the bar packed with maskless patrons who cheered and chanted “Back the blue!” when a group of police officers walked in. A third formal mask violation fine would result in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board reviewing the bar’s liquor license.

A “Defend D.C.” event, which says on its website that it’s endorsed by a number of local groups, including Black Lives Matter DMV and ShutdownDC, runs from Friday to Sunday at Black Lives Matter Plaza.

“Extremist groups that advocate violence and racism are planning protests in D.C.,” Black Lives Matter DMV tweeted on Thursday. “We are not ‘counterprotesting.’ We are responding to violent Trump supporters and white supremacists descending on our community.”

‘The District is ready’

Multiple street closures and parking restrictions start Friday and continue through Sunday.

“The District is ready,” Christopher Rodriguez, D.C.’s Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told WTOP’s Ken Duffy.

“Last time, we did have large crowds, and I’m confident that our police department and our agency are ready for this particular demonstration,” Rodriguez said.

Local law enforcement received some pressure to control the nighttime violence the last time around. Trump even tweeted that week that D.C. police needed to “get going” and “do your job.”

“We’ve heard the accusations and complaints on both sides of the political spectrum,” Rodriguez said. “The Metropolitan Police Department is out there to ensure that violence does not happen.”

ShutdownDC, Black Lives Matter DMV and D.C. police did not immediately respond to request for comment.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

WTOP’s Ken Duffy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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