Four stabbed after 'Stop the Steal' rally supporting Donald Trump in Washington, DC turns violent; 23 arrested

Trump supporters suffered a significant setback on Friday when the US Supreme Court rejected a Texas suit seeking to subvert Biden's victory

FP Staff December 13, 2020 14:52:51 IST
Four stabbed after 'Stop the Steal' rally supporting Donald Trump in Washington, DC turns violent; 23 arrested

A police officer in riot gear stands guard as protesters gather during a protest in Washington, DC. AFP

Four people were stabbed in Washington, DC as a rally supporting United States' President Donald Trump's claims of election fraud led to clashes on Saturday. Around 23 people have been arrested in connection with the 'Stop the Steal' protests in Washington, DC, reports said.

Scuffles also broke out in other US cities, as clashes erupted between Trump supporters and counter-protesters who turned up to criticise Trump. The incumbent US president lost the 3 November election to Democrat Joe Biden, but is yet to concede.

Washington State Police said in a tweet late on Saturday that a shooting had taken place after clashes near the Capitol building in Olympia.

Reports added that protesters had gathered outside the Supreme Court and in the Freedom Square to stage a protest against the election results.

Trump supporters suffered a significant setback on Friday when the US Supreme Court rejected a Texas suit seeking to subvert Biden's victory. Friday's judgment has hampered what may have been Trump's last chance to overturn the results.

Stabbing victims in 'critical condition'

In Washington DC, Fire and EMS Department communications chief Doug Buchanan was quoted as saying by AFP that four people had been stabbed and were now hospitalised "with serious injuries."

CNN reported that the DC Fire and EMS personnel "carried the four stabbing victims who were in "critical condition", two police officers with non-life-threatening injuries and two people with minor injuries."

The report also quoted the mayor's office as saying that of the 23 arrested, "six have been held for assault on police officers, 10 for simple assault, four for riotous acts, two for crossing a police line and one for possession of a prohibited weapon".

There was no indication of whether any of the victims had been involved in the protests, on either side of the divide, the AFP report noted.

The day had begun with a festive atmosphere as thousands of red-hatted protesters filled Washington's streets to support the president, undeterred by the US Supreme Court's rejection on Friday of what may have been his last chance to overturn the results.

Similar events took place in Atlanta and St Paul, Minnesota, as well as in smaller towns in Nebraska, Alabama and elsewhere.

Demonstrators at the DC rally were quoted by AFP as saying that they were steadfast in their support for the embattled president. "We're not gonna give up," said Luke Wilson, a sixty-something protester who had come all the way from the western state of Idaho.

"I believe there is a big injustice being done to the American people," added Dell Quick, a regular at Trump's political rallies, as he carried a flag defending gun rights.

Protesters offered no shortage of explanations for the poll results, even though they have been affirmed by state election officials, several of them Republican, and by judges in several key states.

Every state has now certified the results, giving Biden 306 votes in the Electoral College to Trump's 232. Electors are to formally cast their votes Monday.

But protesters insisted, as Trump has repeatedly, that there was widespread fraud in the election. Some pointed to "foreign interference," others to software that allegedly erased millions of votes for the president, but not those for other Republican candidates on the same ballots.

Susan Bowman, a 62-year-old from Hampton, Virginia, said "this is not a banana republic. We need to fix the election."

Those who addressed the crowd included Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser who was recently pardoned by the president after admitting that he lied to the FBI over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

'Stolen' election

Dozens of court cases alleging fraud or contesting the result have been decided, virtually all in Biden's favor, with some judges offering stinging criticism of the lack of evidence.

But that was not enough for 47-year-old Darlene Denton, who wore a "Trump 2024" badge on her sweatshirt. "Nobody wants to hear evidence, nobody wants to hear cases, everything just gets thrown out," said Denton, who had come from Tennessee to support a president she said had given "a voice to the people."

Trump, in stark defiance of the clear result and of US tradition, has refused to concede to Biden.

"Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (DC) for Stop the Steal," he tweeted early on Saturday. "Didn't know about this, but I'll be seeing them!"

Not long afterward, his helicopter lifted off from the White House grounds and passed over the crowd, many singing the US national anthem, as Trump headed to New York to attend the annual Army-Navy football game.

Among the protesters, members of the far-right militia group the Proud Boys were clearly visible in their signature black-and-yellow outfits, some wearing bulletproof vests, and they often drew cheers from others in the crowd.

Some blocks away, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement held their own, much smaller, rally, chanting "Nazis out!"

Police, some in riot gear, used their bodies and bicycles to keep the groups apart. There was also at least one clash between police and counter-protesters.

With inputs from agencies

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