The Road to Jan 6 Final

'There Will Be Bloodshed': As Night Fell, the Million MAGA March Turned Violent

In this daily series, Newsweek explores the steps that led to the January 6 Capitol Riot.

On Saturday, November 14, on a brilliantly sunny day, 11,000 Trump supporters descended on Washington for an amalgam of the Million MAGA March, March to Trump, and Stop the Steal. It was nowhere close to a million people, and that fact, together with what unfolded—a battle between protestors and counter-protestors—set the stage for almost everyone to focus on the wrong signs as January 6 neared.

At Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue, just east of the White House, a crowd of thousands showed their support for Donald Trump's election fraud claims, voicing their grievances about the direction of the country: an accumulation of disgruntlement with Washington, the feds, the CDC, politicians, the mainstream media, even with law enforcement. They marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Supreme Court, located just across the street from the Capitol building. "Fuck Antifa," the crowd chanted.

Speakers included the bombastic Alex Jones, host of Infowars and a vocal right-wing conspiracy guru, made even more seductive when he was banned by mainstream social media. Jones was accompanied by members of the Proud Boys, erstwhile bodyguards and extra security, a task that they had taken upon themselves, escorting the leadership of their world. One bodyguard wore a "Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong!" t-shirt, a reference to the leader of a military junta in Chile who toppled the democratically elected president and arrested over 100,000 enemies of the state, torturing a third of them.

million MAGA march DC november 14
"Bloodshed": As night fell, the Million MAGA March turned violent. Trump supporters protest the 2020 presidential election results on November 14, 2020 in downtown Washington, D.C. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

At the rally, Jones spoke of a "second American Revolution" and led chants of "1776." It was his patented Deep State patter, conspiracies all around, a little bit of QAnon and a lot of Alex Jones. "We declare independence from that communist Chinese agent Joe Biden and his demonic pedophile family," he shouted.

Former Trump administration official and right-wing social media influencer Sebastian Gorka whipped up the crowd and turned the focus back to Donald Trump, saying, "We can win because he did win."

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon conspiracy adherent just elected to Congress from Georgia, was also on hand to speak. Earlier in the day, she tweeted a diatribe about the repressive conditions in the nation's capital. "NOTHING is open," she said, not even her hotel gym, because of "Democrat tyrannical control." Later, she attacked those wearing COVID masks, calling them "oppressive." The Oath Keepers acted as security for several of the speakers.

To signal his acknowledgement and support, President Trump's presidential motorcade made a slight detour on the way to deliver him to a golf course in Virginia. They drove by the crowds on Pennsylvania Avenue. The previous day, Trump had tweeted: "Heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support out there, especially the organic Rallies that are springing up all over the Country, including a big one on Saturday in D.C. I may even try to stop by and say hello."

"The Million MAGA March was ... organized as a peaceful exercise of demonstrators' First Amendment rights with respect to the 2020 Presidential election," the FBI stated after the protest. "Members of the Proud Boys attended the demonstration wearing their yellow and black colors and other recognizable emblems and logos associated with the group."

And though there were tensions between MAGA marchers and counter-protestors, the daytime rally was mostly peaceful. But as night fell the rally gave way to a number of violent clashes between MAGA agitators, counter demonstrators and police. "Activists spewed profanity and shouted threats, threw punches and launched bottles. On both sides, people were bloodied ... including four whose allegiances remain unknown on gun charges. The chaos also left two officers injured," reported the Washington Post. At least one person was stabbed and hospitalized.

Near midnight, a massive "TRUMP LAW AND ORDER" banner was laid atop Black Lives Matter Plaza, before it was moved close to the White House.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) later reported 21 arrests for assault, assault on a police officer, possession of a weapon, disorderly conduct and inciting violence. There were also seven firearms recovered by MPD during this event, according to the Department of Homeland Security's internal "Million MAGA March After Action" report.

In its reporting of the protest and its aftermath, the mainstream news media mostly focused on the small size of the crowd and the big name individuals and groups like QAnon, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, portraying Trump supporters as conspiracy freaks and idiots. Counter-protestors, quoted as opposing racism and "fascism" and all things Trump, were given equal voice. The mainstream media also focused on the election count and the actual outcome of the election, ignoring the larger grievances of those who were there.

protest trump black lives matter d.c.
"They're pushing us to a point where we have no choice": Members of the Proud Boys clash with Black Lives Matter protesters during a protest on November 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Law enforcement was occupied with clashes between contending groups. That had been the main focus of local and federal law enforcement in earlier protests. There were some important themes emerging, such as the condemnation of Fox News by Trump supporters. And there were armed protestors, violating District of Columbia law and signaling a propensity towards violence; the talk of revolution and a new Independence Day should have alerted the homeland security apparatus to see the groups as engaging in acts that could be considered insurrectionist and seditious.

Ron Schaffer, a member of the Oath Keepers from Indiana who attended the November 14 march, spoke to the news media that Saturday. "A group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago. And now they're making their big move, and it's not gonna happen," he said. "They're messing with the wrong people here, trust me on that.

"We're not going to merge into some globalist, communist system, it will not happen," he said. "There will be a lot of bloodshed if it comes down to that, trust me ... If somebody wants to bring violence, I think there's a lot of us here that are ready for it ... they're pushing us to a point where we have no choice."

Schaffer was later indicted for his role in the January 6 assault on the Capitol.