Supporters of President Donald Trump rally
Supporters of President Donald Trump rally in support of the president, near Freedom Plaza in Washington on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. Image Credit: NYT

President Donald Trump waved to supporters in Washington, D.C., protesting the outcome of the election as he drove past them in his motorcade on Saturday. Trump has refused to concede the election even as his loss in the Electoral College grew this past week.

The president, who was on his way to his private golf club in Sterling, Virginia, was greeted by applause and cheers. Supporters nearby carried signs reading "Best prez ever" and "Stop the steal."

Thousands of demonstrators fanned out for several blocks around Freedom Plaza. For most of the day, the protests appeared largely loud but orderly, but as the night wore on, clashes between the president's supporters and counterprotesters seemed to intensify.

"It's not like the Fourth of July or anything," said a police officer who was stationed near Freedom Plaza at 13th and G Streets. He declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. "But yeah," he added, "there's a crowd down there."

Even if short on numbers, the crowd was not lacking in enthusiasm for the president or outrage over the grievances he has raised over the past four years.

Zenaida Ochoa, 46, a Virginia resident originally from Arizona, said she had been "following Trump since I was a kid."

"He's not perfect," said Ochoa, who added that she supported Trump partly because of his immigration policies.

Trump's brief visit Saturday came one day after the last two states of the election were called. President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia to finish with a total of 306 electoral votes - the same number that Trump won in 2016 and called a landslide - and Trump won North Carolina, for a total of 232 electoral votes.

Trump has refused to concede the race to Biden.

In addition to the Million MAGA March, demonstrations of the Trump faithful in Washington on Saturday included a Stop the Steal rally and a Women for Trump event.

Supporters of the president traveled from across the country to participate.

"I'm blown away," said Rachel Williams, a county worker from Jasper, Alabama, who got in a car with three friends at 5:30 Friday morning to attend the march in Washington. "I'm encouraged that America is not going to just lie down."

Williams said there had been no fraud in her county - she registers voters as part of her job - but voiced suspicion over the election results and suggested that there might have been fraud elsewhere. A group of federal, state and local election officials declared flatly this week that the election "was the most secure in American history" and that there was "no evidence" any voting systems were compromised.

By about noon, demonstrators began marching toward the Capitol, streaming down Pennsylvania Avenue for over an hour, rallying again in the area around the Capitol building and outside the Supreme Court.

"We want Trump to know that we love everything that he did, especially for Hispanic people," said Anthony Cabassa, 33, who was clutching a flag that read "Defiant."

"He woke us up," said Cabassa, who had flown in from Los Angeles. "Whether you were on the left or on the right, he woke a lot of people up."

Later in the day, as many Trump supporters began trickling toward Union Station, more than 40 men who identified themselves as members of the Proud Boys, an extremist organization, began to march back toward Freedom Plaza. The men, dressed in yellow and black, pumped their fists in the air and chanted "Trump 2020." Some wore ballistic vests.

A few skirmishes broke out in the afternoon among Trump supporters and counterprotesters critical of the administration.

On 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, tensions flared between a crowd of Trump supporters criticizing antifa and a smaller group of counterprotesters, including a mother and a child.

As the night wore on, videos on social media showed fistfights breaking out, the police trying to keep the groups apart by forming barricades with their bikes, and protesters amassing near Freedom Plaza, where people lit small fires.