They came from around the country with different affiliations — QAnon, Proud Boys, elected officials, everyday Americans — united by one allegiance.
It was the table setter for what would come, with nearly 2,000 people gathering in Washington on Tuesday evening for a “Rally to Save America.” Speaker after angry speaker stoked stolen-election conspiracy theories and name-checked sworn enemies: Democrats and weak Republicans, Communists and Satanists.
Still, the crowd seemed a bit giddy at the prospect of helping President Trump reverse the result of the election — though at times the language evoked a call to arms. “It is time for war,” one speaker declared.
As the audience thinned, groups of young men emerged in Kevlar vests and helmets, a number of them holding clubs and knives. Some were aligned with the neofascist Proud Boys; others with the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group.
“We’re not backing down anymore,” said a man with fresh stitches on his head. “This is our country.”