By Zachary Stieber
President Donald Trump said late Saturday that Antifa members waited until most of the Trump rally participants left Washington to attack those still in the city.
“ANTIFA SCUM ran for the hills today when they tried attacking the people at the Trump Rally, because those people aggressively fought back. Antifa waited until tonight, when 99% were gone, to attack innocent #MAGA People. DC Police, get going—do your job and don’t hold back!!!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
In another missive, he added, “Radical Left ANTIFA SCUM was easily rebuffed today by the big D.C. MAGA Rally crowd, only to return at night, after 99% of the crowd had left, to assault elderly people and families. Police got there, but late. Mayor is not doing her job!”
Organizers said hundreds of thousands of people attended a march that called for probes into possible election fraud from people who support the Republican president.
Reporters on the scene filmed videos that showed supporters and likely members of Antifa—a far-left, anarcho-communist network—and activists within the Black Lives Matter movement attacking Trump supporters.
Antifa is made up of radical groups that rarely talk to the press. One of the groups, Refuse Fascism, wrote on Twitter late Saturday: “Hey Trump Crybabies: Tweet all you want about BLM and Antifa. It still don’t change the fact: TRUMP LOST! BIDEN WON! NOW PACK YOUR [expletive] AND GO!”
The group appeared to blame the violence on Trump supporters.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network didn’t respond to a request for comment. Black Lives Matter DC blamed the violence on the Proud Boys and white nationalists.
Trump on Twitter shared a video of one man being sucker punched by a male who was holding a sign calling for the immediate removal of Trump from the White House.
He also prompted a statement from Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).
“The President’s supporters have a right to peacefully rally supporting POTUS just like his opponents have that same right. The physical assaults today by violent leftists targeting his supporters is abhorrent. The near total media blackout of the violence is terrible…& telling,” Zeldin wrote.
“Human Radical Left garbage did this. Being arrested now!” Trump wrote.
Some Trump supporters also engaged in violence, including members of the Proud Boys. “No Trump, no peace! No Trump, no peace!” the rightwing group chanted near the White House, video footage shot by independent reporter Ford Fischer showed.
“This right here shows the power when we, the right wing, unite, and we get together,” Enrique Tarrio, the group’s leader, told the crowd.
In the lead-up to the fight, both groups were moving around and looking to clash by beating police officers to an intersection, one reporter said.
Trump supporters later took down Black Lives Matter signs from Black Lives Matter Plaza.
A number of arrests were made throughout the day. It wasn’t clear how many. The Metropolitan Police Department didn’t respond to requests for comment and has not commented on what transpired, nor has Washington’s Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser or the city’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.
Police told The Associated Press they made 21 arrests for charges including assault and weapons possession. Officers recovered eight firearms. Four officers were injured during the course of the day.
Bowser told reporters on Thursday that officials were “concerned about making sure that we have safe First Amendment demonstrations.”
Christopher Rodriguez, director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said the agency was tracking the groups that planned to attend.
Rodriguez, who suggested the turnout would be in the low hundreds, told the briefing that police were being proactive in closing streets and that “violence will not be tolerated.”
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