Violence Erupts Between Trump Supporters, Counter Protesters
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Activists in the nation's capital are accusing the city of failing to protect Black residents after a weekend of violence during a pro-Trump rally. The president's supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. They repeated baseless claims that the election was, quote, "stolen," and some of them vandalized churches and attacked counterdemonstrators. Hannah Schuster from our member station WAMU has the story.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A...
HANNAH SCHUSTER, BYLINE: Thousands of mostly mask-less Trump supporters from all over the country marched through downtown D.C. That included members of the extremist group the Proud Boys. They gathered at Washington landmarks, like the Washington Monument and the Supreme Court, and listened to speeches from figures like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. And the president's supporters erupted in cheers as he flew overhead on Marine One.
Police tried to keep these crowds separate from other D.C. protesters, some who have been holding racial justice demonstrations for months. But as the night went on, violence broke out and dozens of people were arrested, including a 29-year-old who allegedly stabbed four people. This weekend was the second time since the election that Trump supporters rallied in D.C. leading to violence, although the crowd was smaller than when they gathered in mid-November.
At this weekend's protest, Trump supporters tore down Black Lives Matter signs from two historic Black churches. A video circulating online shows the crowd cheering as a banner from Asbury United Methodist Church burns.
SCHUSTER: The church's pastor said in a statement, the scene reminded her of a cross burning. D.C. police say they're investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, and Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned it. But local activists say the police have failed to stop white supremacist violence. Here's Anthony Lorenzo Green with the D.C. Black Lives Matter chapter.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ANTHONY LORENZO GREEN: Let's be clear - our mayor and our police department allowed white supremacists to tear down and destroy property from a Black church, burn it on the ground.
SCHUSTER: He spoke from what's now called Black Lives Matter Plaza after Mayor Bowser's office had those words painted on the street in June. But local activists say her words don't mean much to them without action. For NPR News, I'm Hannah Schuster in Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.