4 Stabbed and one shot as Trump supporters and opponents clash
By Hailey Fuchs, Pranshu Verma and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Incensed by a Supreme Court ruling that further dashed President Donald Trump’s hopes of invalidating his November electoral defeat, thousands of his supporters marched in Washington and several state capitals Saturday to protest what they contended, against all evidence, was a stolen election.
In some places, angry confrontations between protesters and counterprotesters escalated into violence. There were a number of scuffles in the national capital, where at least four people were stabbed, and the police declared a riot in Olympia, Washington, where one person was shot.
In videos of a clash in Olympia that were posted on social media, a single gunshot can be heard as black-clad counterprotesters move toward members of the pro-Trump group, including one person waving a large Trump flag. After the gunshot, one of the counterprotesters is seen falling to the ground, and others call for help. In one video, a man with a gun can be seen running from the scene and putting on a red hat.
Chris Loftis, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, said that two people were in custody in connection with the episode but that specific details about the shooting were not yet clear, including the condition of the person who was shot.
State and federal courts have rejected dozens of lawsuits by Trump’s allies seeking to challenge the election results, but the pointed refusal by the Supreme Court on Friday to hear a case filed by the attorney general of Texas loomed the largest yet. By foreclosing one of the last legal avenues Trump had to potentially block Biden from succeeding him on Inauguration Day, it left many of his partisans casting angrily about for answers.
Trump flags dotted the air above Freedom Plaza in Washington, where demonstrators — including many members of the far-right Proud Boys group — chanted “four more years!” and vowed not to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect.
Stephanie Lalich, 55, who traveled from Baltimore to join the protest in Washington, said voting machines had been used for widespread electoral fraud — a claim that has been proved false — and that judges had not sided with Trump because they did not want to take on the issue.
“They don’t want to deal with this,” Lalich said. “It’s going to have to go nuclear, using the Insurrection Act and bringing out the military.”
At Georgia’s Statehouse in downtown Atlanta, speakers used megaphones to cast doubt on the election as American flags and Make America Great Again hats bobbed in the crowd. Across the street, a few dozen anti-Trump activists — many dressed all in black — heckled the president’s supporters.
Chris Hill, the leader of a right-wing group called the Georgia Security Force III%, rallied many of the protesters to the Statehouse. Hill said the Supreme Court had “thumbed its nose at us.” But unlike many others in attendance, he said he accepted that Trump had lost the election.
“At this point, this thing is over,” he said, adding that he was turning his focus to the two runoff races in Georgia whose outcomes will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
The gunfire in Olympia, Washington, came after supporters of Trump and counterprotesters gathered near the state Capitol on Saturday afternoon. The groups had clashed before the shooting, with some people throwing objects and punches. The air on the street was clouded by smoke grenades and mace, and police officers in riot gear later arrived on the scene.
Both sets of protesters dispersed later in the afternoon, and a large area at the edge of the Capitol campus was roped off with crime scene tape while a police officer and other officials assessed the situation. Several vehicles, including one with a Trump sticker, remained in a parking lot at the police scene, along with a scattering of rocks and broken glass.
The Olympia police said there were four arrests and that four officers had been injured, according to the CBS affiliate KIRO.
Clashes also broke out between opposing groups in Washington, D.C., where videos showed people clad in Proud Boys gear punching and kicking counterprotesters who were wearing helmets. The police stepped in and sprayed mace at some of the men involved in the fighting. Another video showed anti-police protesters scuffling with officers and tossing what appeared to be a wooden stick at them.
At night, four people were stabbed near 11th Street and F Street Northwest, according to Douglas Buchanan, a spokesman for the city’s fire department. The mayor’s office said that the four were in critical condition, adding that two police officers also were hurt and taken to hospitals. Authorities did not provide any other details, including which groups of protesters the injured belonged to.
Throughout the day, the police arrested at least 23 people, including six on charges of assaulting a police officer, the mayor’s office said.
Earlier in the day, the pro-Trump crowd in Washington had appeared jubilant at times, despite the setbacks in the courts and the dwindling time remaining before Jan. 20 when Biden is due to be sworn in. They rewrote the refrain of the Van Halen song “Jump” to say, “Might as well Trump!” Others sold Trump-themed T-shirts and other items advertising his false claims of electoral fraud.
Some demonstrators were more confident than others that Trump could secure a second term despite losing the election.
Phyllis Monson, 61, who drove for several days from Tonopah, Arizona, to attend the rally, said she was not sure what steps remained available to overturn the election, but that she was convinced it had been unfair.
“This election was such a fraud,” Monson said. “There needs to be a revote.”