Police on Saturday escorted a group of more than 100 masked members of a white nationalist group on a march through Washington’s National Mall.
Dressed in khaki pants and caps, blue jackets and white face masks, Patriot Front members shouted “Reclaim America!” and “Life, liberty, victory!” as they held altered American flags.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Patriot Front as a white nationalist, fascist group that broke off from a similar organization, Vanguard America, in the aftermath of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. The SPLC added that Patriot Front focuses on “theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country.”
“DC Capitol Police are not allowing members of the media or anyone else on capital grounds so that the fascist Patriot front can have their own private rally,” reporter Zach Roberts tweeted.
DC Capitol Police are not allowing members of the media or anyone else on capital grounds so that the fascist Patriot front can have their own private rally. pic.twitter.com/ZHJxGPpgHy
— Zach D Roberts (@zdroberts) February 8, 2020
Meanwhile, Nazis in DC set up a private event using public funds on public ground where the audience were public servants on the clock on the public payroll https://t.co/GnoPzaFZgu
— Pronoun Enforcer (@EmilyGorcenski) February 8, 2020
Video of Saturday’s march in Washington showed occasional counter-protestors condemning the march as the group made its way from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol grounds and later a nearby Wal-Mart parking garage.
I’ll have HD footage up later, but some quick highlights from my livestream.
The group marched into DC from Arlington Memorial Cemetery in Virginia.
It’s worth noting that mask-wearing is illegal on the VA side of the line. I’m not sure if they were masked up on that side. pic.twitter.com/7oRYhMflJn
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) February 8, 2020
Reuters notes it was unclear whether the group had obtained a permit for the march. A spokeswoman for District of Columbia Metropolitan Police said it had no record of a permit for the march.
Many journalists and Twitter users were outraged by videos showing dozens of police, some on bicycles, escorting the white nationalists to a private rally on the capitol grounds.
Photos of the Neo Nazi protest in Washington DC today…
Members of the Patriot Front marched from the National Mall, past the Capitol, ending near Union Station.
Patriot Front is run by Thomas Ryan Rousseau, who founded the group in 2017, as a [email protected] @washingtonpost pic.twitter.com/0CLOqEtIz5
— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) February 9, 2020
WH and Justice correspondent for the CBS affiliate in DC. We are in such a dark place, America. https://t.co/NmZZ100t9l
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) February 9, 2020
Big questions: Did Patriot Front have a permit? Did they coordinate with the DC police for this demonstration? Seems likely. https://t.co/71fboFbbCB
— It’s Going Down (@IGD_News) February 8, 2020