Organizers were preparing for an expected crowd of 5,000 on Tuesday and more than 30,000 throughout the week, according to permits issued by the National Park Service. Local government officials warned that the events could turn tumultuous. Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington requested assistance from the Army National Guard on Monday, and the local police warned that anyone who intended to arrive in Washington with a firearm, as some on social media sites promised to do, would be arrested.
Many of the hundreds of demonstrators who showed up on Tuesday for the “March to Save America” and “Stop the Steal” rallies chose not to wear masks to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. Some of the speakers during the rally at the Freedom Plaza delivered aggressive speeches claiming the groups were “at war,” targeting Republicans in Congress who have refused to protest the results of the election.
Dan Couture, 51, who drove to Tuesday’s rally from Colorado with two of his brothers, Pat and Dave, said they arrived “to make sure that all the votes that were legal are the votes that were counted.”
Just feet away, Richard Morris, 63, of Eaton Rapids, Mich., began to accept the outcome of the election that has already been affirmed by each of the states and the nation’s top election officials.
“If he doesn’t win it tomorrow, then this is over,” said Mr. Morris, an architect, although he said he believed Mr. Trump would still find a path to victory.
The president also confirmed Tuesday on Twitter that he would speak at the event at 11 a.m. Wednesday, while continuing to point the finger at Democrats, Republicans who refused to support his baseless claims and Antifa, a loose-knit antifascist movement with some followers who have been prone to commit acts of violence.
“I hope the Democrats, and even more importantly, the weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party, are looking at the thousands of people pouring into D.C. They won’t stand for a landslide election victory to be stolen,” Mr. Trump said, using the acronym for “Republican in Name Only.”