On Monday, Washington, D.C. authorities warned supporters of President Trump not to bring guns to protests this week. The protests are related to the confirmation by Congress of the results of the electoral college vote this Wednesday. The authorities in the American capital have recruited hundreds of National Guard soldiers to maintain order.
“We have received information that there are people who intend to bring firearms to our city, and this is unacceptable,” Police Chief Robert Conti said at a press conference, adding that anyone who is found to be carrying a weapon or provoking violence will be arrested.
In a statement, the District of Columbia National Guard said more than 300 soldiers would stand ready to support the city government by providing control and assisting emergency services.
Conti said law enforcement will also be monitored by the US Capitol Police, US Parks Police and the Secret Service.
The District of Columbia has some of the strictest US firearms laws and prohibits open carrying or possession without local permission.
Thousands of Trump supporters, including some far-right nationalist groups openly carrying weapons during the protests, are expected to gather in the US capital starting Tuesday to oppose Congress approval of the electoral college vote.
Conti noted that the protests could be larger than those in November and December, marred by injuries and fights, with hundreds of Proud Boys and other Trump loyalists pushing for clashes with anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter activists. The Proud Boys is a far-right organization identified as a hate group by the Southern Poor Justice Center and classified by the FBI as having ties to white nationalists.
Under the US constitution, Congress is empowered to confirm the results of Wednesday’s presidential elections, which is usually a formality. Vice President Mike Pence will oversee the procedure.
At least 12 Republican senators and about 140 Republican congressmen have pledged to vote against confirming Biden’s victory, citing Trump’s accusations of electoral fraud. None of the claims have been proven in court and have been repeatedly refuted.
Proud Boys head Enrique Tarrio pledged on social media that a “record number” of members would attend the protests. Tarrio himself, according to social media reports, was arrested at the Washington airport on suspicion of an administrative offense.