Washington, Jan 6 (PTI) Thousands of supporters of Donald Trump have converged here to attend a massive rally to be addressed by the US president on Wednesday in protest against what he alleges to be a rigged presidential election.
“Washington is being inundated with people who don't want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won't take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Trump is scheduled to address the rally at about 11 a.m. The rally is being held at the same time, when in a joint session, the US Congress is scheduled to count the votes of the Electoral College and certify the results of the November 3 presidential election.
Trump, the Republican incumbent, has not conceded the election, reiterating unverified claims that the presidential polls were rigged. Dozens of lawsuits by his campaign challenging election results have failed in US courts.
Biden, a Democrat, is set to be inaugurated as the 46th US President on January 20.
Thousands of Trump supporters gathered at various places in downtown Washington with posters and banners “Stop the steal” to “Trump is my president.” US media feared a violent clash between Republican and Democratic supporters.
“Some officials feared that if the protests led to violent confrontations, Trump might seek to invoke the Insurrection Act to maintain order and protect the 74 million supporters he falsely contends have been fraudulently disenfranchised by Biden’s victory,” The Washington Post reported.
“The protests could indeed get nasty, and the next few days may be very disorderly. But officials, led by some senior members of the administration, have worked hard to prevent a worst-case scenario in which Trump might seek to overturn the election result by deploying the uniformed military and imposing martial law,” the daily said.
In a late night statement, the White House said Antifa activists have brutally attacked law-abiding friends, neighbours, and business owners, and destroyed historic landmarks that the communities have cherished for decades.
“This violence and lawlessness have no place in the United States and will be called out for the domestic terrorism that it is,” said the White House.
“Today, President Donald J. Trump signed a memorandum to ensure that Federal officials assess actions of Antifa activists in light of Federal laws that restrict the entry of aliens associated with terrorist organizations and aliens intent on criminal activity. President Trump will not allow Antifa, or any terrorist organisation, to destroy our great country,” the statement added.
In anticipation of violence, businesses in downtown Washington DC were boarded. Even some of the important places like John’s Church of Lafayette Square were fenced.
According to The Hill newspaper, district officials are bracing for potentially violent clashes between Trump's supporters and counter protesters, with Mayor Muriel Bowser activating the National Guard to support law enforcement during the demonstrations. The National Guard has been activated in the city.
'Approximately 340 personnel will support the city government from January 5 to 7 by providing crowd control at several Metro stations and assist police with street closures at multiple intersections to provide safety in and around pedestrian areas,' DC National Guard said in a statement.
“I am asking Washingtonians and those who live in the region to stay out of the downtown area on Tuesday and Wednesday and not to engage with demonstrators who come to our city seeking confrontation, and we will do what we must to ensure all who attend remain peaceful,' Bowser said in a statement. PTI LKJ IND AKJ IND