In an orchestrated, unbridled display of white rage, MAGA supporters, including members of white nationalist and “western chauvinist” group the Proud Boys, roamed the streets of Washington D.C., Saturday night, some screaming “our streets,” tearing down Black Lives Matter signs from Black churches and setting them on fire.
The Trump supporters, estimated to be in the thousands, swarmed the nation’s capitol two days ahead of the electoral college vote to officially confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
At least four people were stabbed near Harry’s Bar at 11th and F streets NW, a gathering point for the Proud Boys, a male-chauvinist organization with ties to white nationalism.
D.C. police said that as of 9 p.m., 23 people were arrested Saturday, including 10 who were charged with misdemeanor assaults, six with assaulting police officers and four with rioting. Police said one person had an illegal Taser.
Two officers were hospitalized with moderate injuries suffered during clashes at 16th and K streets NW, police said. In all, police said eight people — including the four stabbing victims and the two officers — were injured.
The victims were reportedly hospitalized and suffered possibly life-threatening injuries.
Dr. Ianther M. Mills, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington D.C., one the houses of worship that was vandalized—the other being Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church—issued a statement, which read in part:
“Last night demonstrators who were part of the MAGA gatherings tore down our Black Lives Matter sign and literally burned it in the street…It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames,” Mills wrote. “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.”
Asbury United Methodist was founded in 1836 and Metropolitan AME Church is where Frederick Douglass’ funeral was held in 1895.
As ESSENCE previously reported, when given the opportunity during the first presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle to denounce white supremacist violence, President Donald Trump refused, instead providing the Proud Boys a rallying cry.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what…somebody has to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”
Since his incendiary comments, the Proud Boys, who gained national attention during the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, have used “Stand Back and Stand By” on memes and merchandise, with some online retailers blocking the sell of the organization’s shirts—after critics began to take notice.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel in September that white supremacists and anti-government extremists have been responsible for most of the recent deadly attacks by extremist groups within the U.S.