D.C. will again see thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump descending on the city this weekend.
The National Park Service on Friday approved permits filed by two pro-Trump groups planning to rally in downtown D.C. on Saturday.
The larger of the two rallies, according to expected attendance cited in the permits, is a rally and march planned by a group called “Women for America First.” The permit approved by the park service said the group expects 15,000 people to gather at Freedom Plaza starting 11 a.m. Saturday.
Speakers include several notable Trump allies, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has drawn criticism over her handling of the coronavirus in her state, and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was recently pardoned by Trump after his conviction for lying to the FBI.
The itinerary included in the permit says the group will march from Freedom Plaza to the Supreme Court about 1:30 p.m. after the crowd does a group rendition of “YMCA.”
A COVID-19 mitigation plan filed with the park service says attendees should wear masks and practice social distancing with those outside their immediate party.
A separate “Million MAGA March” is planned to kick off at noon Saturday. That rally, which does not include a march, will take place at the Sylvan Theater on the National Mall, south of the Washington Monument.
Despite the rally’s name, organizers anticipate about 500 attendees, according to the park service permit.
The rallies are also expected to draw large numbers of counterprotesters, who gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza starting Friday afternoon.
Those opposed to the coming presence of Trump supporters for more election result protests begin to gather at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House and plan to be here all weekend #DefendDC #ShutDownDC pic.twitter.com/1g2qs9PNXM
— Ken Duffy (@KenDuffyNews) December 11, 2020
The pro-Trump rallies come more than a month after Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential contest, and in the month since, election results confirming Biden’s victory have been certified in all 50 states.
Organizers of the rallies say they’re protesting 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.
Last month, following Biden’s victory, Trump supporters gathered in D.C., leading to several clashes with counterprotesters. In one incident, a man was stabbed.
Saturday’s events have spurred a host of road closures in downtown D.C.
In addition, D.C. police have also closed off pedestrian access to H Street Northwest, between Vermont and Connecticut avenues, across from the White House. That means the rallying Trump supporters and counterprotesters won’t have access to the fence along H Street, which is adorned with hundreds of signs and posters, and has served as a flashpoint for confrontations in the past.
WTOP’s Neal Augenstein, Ken Duff and Will Vitka, and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.
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