Encouraged by President Donald Trump's dangerous rhetoric of refusing to accept the results of the election, his supporters — including far-right groups — rioted on the streets of Washington, DC, and Olympia, Washington, on Saturday night, resulting in violence, injuries, and multiple arrests.
Two months after Trump told the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s organization with a history of instigating violence, to “stand back and stand by,” the group was involved in violent clashes with counterprotesters at the so-called Stop the Steal rally in DC.
Four people were stabbed in DC and one person was shot in Olympia as thousands of Trump supporters gathered in several state capitals to protest against what they falsely claim was a "stolen election," two days before the Electoral College will confirm that Joe Biden is the next US president.
In DC, at least 33 people were arrested and four people were hospitalized with stab wounds, according to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Eight police officers were injured in connection with the demonstrations, an MPD spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
In Olympia, police declared the pro-Trump protest outside the state Capitol to be a riot on Saturday afternoon, following outbreaks of violence between the president's supporters and counterprotesters.
A 25-year-old man was arrested in connection to the shooting at the Capitol Campus on Saturday and was jailed on a first-degree assault charge, the Washington State Patrol said.
The alleged shooter was "part of [the] right" group of pro-Trump protesters, while the victim was a counterprotester who was "part of [the] left," Chris Loftis, a Washington State Patrol spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News.
"So as not to give the antagonists groups the attention they are seeking with their confrontative, provocative, unlawful, and unsafe acts we are only referring to them as 'left' and 'right,'” Loftis said. "The shooter was part of right. The victim was part of left."
Loftis said the victim was taken to a local hospital and is not responding to law enforcement, so he was unable to speak to his current status.
The protest in DC began peacefully, with Trump supporters of all ages marching between the Capitol and the White House and a rally featuring speakers such as far-right radio host and peddler of conspiracies Alex Jones, former Trump foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka, and recently pardoned Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The US Supreme Court's rejection of Texas’s last-ditch effort to challenge Biden’s win in four battleground states was the latest, and most significant, loss in Trump's desperate, baseless, futile bid to overturn the election results following several failed legal attempts in other states.
At Saturday's rallies, the speakers and the president's supporters continued to push the false narrative that Trump, and not Biden, won the 2020 election.
"We decide the election,” Flynn said to cheering supporters near the Supreme Court building, the New York Times reported. "We’re waging a battle across America," he said.
As night fell, violence erupted between the Proud Boys and counterprotesters at multiple locations around the city.
Police arrested 33 people on a range of charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and weapons violations.
Four people suffered stab wounds during the unrest, but it is unclear which groups the victims and the attacker were associated with. The victims were transported to a hospital and had non-life-threatening injuries, the MPD said.
A police report, provided to BuzzFeed News, cites a New York Post video that captured the stabbing incident. The video appears to show a man — dressed in all black — surrounded by a group of pro-Trump protesters, which reportedly included Proud Boy members.
The police report, citing the video, says one of the protesters shoved the man as he walked away from the group, at which point the man pulled out a knife. The police report says one of the protesters pulled at the man's mask and another individual repeatedly punched the man in the head, according to the Post video.
As the group surrounded the man again, screams of "he's got a knife" can be heard on the video. The knife-wielding man is then seen being chased by several of the pro-Trump protesters.
Officers arrested 29-year-old Phillip Johnson, of Northwest DC, for assault with a dangerous weapon.
According to documents provided to BuzzFeed News, three of the four stabbing victims had traveled to DC; one from Tennessee, one from Minnesota, and one from North Carolina. The fourth victim's place of residence was not known.
DC police are also investigating the burning of a "Black Lives Matter" banner as a possible hate crime, according to a report from Religion News.
A Twitter video shows Proud Boys tearing down a BLM banner from Asbury United Methodist Church, the city's oldest African American church to remain on its original site. A video posted by a Daily Caller reporter shows members of the Proud Boys burning the banner, which has the church's name on it, and cheering.
"It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames," Rev. Ianther M. Mills, the church's senior pastor, said in a statement. "For me, it was reminiscent of cross burnings. Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head. We had been so confident that no one would ever vandalize the church, but it has happened."
In Washington state, violence between two groups began soon after the protest — which quickly became a riot.
“Both groups were heavily armed, including firearms,” Lt. Paul Lower of the Olympia Police Department told the Associated Press. “They were fighting amongst themselves, two factions with opposing political beliefs.”
Local CBS affiliate KIRO reported that four people in total were injured during the riot and police made four arrests.