Elrich, Bowser Urge Residents to Avoid Downtown Washington Ahead of Protests
Montgomery County Executive Marc B. Elrich (D) joined the Washington, D.C., city council and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) Tuesday in a call for residents to avoid potentially violent protests scheduled for Wednesday.
“These are not ordinary times, and these will not be ordinary protests,” Elrich said in a statement.
Congress is slated to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory Wednesday. President Trump has consistently disputed the results of the election, calling it “stolen.”
“Washington is being inundated with people who don’t want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats,” the president tweeted Tuesday evening. “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!”
Unwavering Trump supporters have flooded the district in protest of the election results, including the Proud Boys — a far-right organization for men who self-describe as “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”
“Like Archie Bunker, we long for the days when ‘girls were girls and men were men,’” their website reads. “This wasn’t controversial even twenty years ago, but being proud of Western culture today is like being a crippled, black, lesbian communist in 1953.”
The Associated Press reported that Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, was arrested in Washington Monday for allegedly stealing and burning a Black Lives Matter banner from a church in December.
Tarrio is also facing weapons charges.
Elrich said that organizers of this week’s demonstrations have an “alarming affinity for violence” and haven’t been “shy about suggesting the need for violence.”
“There is talk of disrupting the counting of votes in Congress, which would require extreme actions,” he stated. “If the Trump-aligned protesters decide to make a move on Congress, I do not think it would be wise for counter-protesters to try to block this action, or to find themselves between the police and these protesters – that is a job for the police, and the police should be allowed to focus on those who continue to try to disrupt our election and overturn its legitimate outcome.”
In its call for residents and counter-protesters to steer-clear, the D.C. Council said that, in recent protests, “white supremacists and militia groups” have damaged property and put people in harm’s way.
“We urge residents to recognize that these are the voices of those who have already lost,” the council said in a statement. “Votes have been certified and the demonstrations this week will not change the outcome of this election.
“There is no gain for all people who desire peace in engaging with those who come here with malicious intent, and doing so only brings great risk.”
Trump, who is set to speak at the Save America March during the rallies, suggested that Wednesday’s demonstrations may erupt in violence.
“Antifa is a Terrorist Organization, stay out of Washington. Law enforcement is watching you very closely!” Trump wrote Tuesday, tagging twitter accounts for the Department of Defense, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of the Interior, the secret service and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
In a letter to Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffery Rosen, Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller and Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy, Bowser said that she is relying on D.C. police and is not requesting additional federal law enforcement for Wednesday’s protests.
“The protection of persons and property is our utmost concern and responsibility,” she wrote. “MPD is well trained and prepared to law enforcement, coordination and response to allow for the peaceful demonstration and First Amendment rights in the District of Columbia.”
This article includes reporting from Maryland Matters news partner WTOP News.