Right-wing activists began arriving at the Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington on Saturday morning, where they were met with a heavy police presence prior to a rally to protest against being blocked on social media because of their political views.
About two dozen members of the proud boys, a self-proclaimed Western-chauvinist fraternity group who believe in ending welfare and closing the borders, marched into the park shortly after. 10.00
The police had closed many roads around the square and adjacent Pershing Park, where against protesters gathered under the banner "All Out DC" They are planning a dance and go-go party to drown out what they decrypt as "White Nationalism and Supremacy. "
The area around the Freedom Plaza was heavily barren aded but there was free access to pershing park. Among those expected to participate in counter-rally: Antifa, black-dressed anti-fascists polishing the blame for violence and destruction in a lap in downtown during the inauguration of President Trump on January 20, 2017.
Police are trying to avoid a repeating last month's bloody street brawls in Portland, Ore. involves members of these two groups. More than three hours before Saturday's noon event, DC and the US Park Police had locked down the two parks along Pennsylvania Avenue, on either side of 14th Street, just east of the White House.
Massive dumpers blocked Pennsylvania Avenue on 12th Street and 15th Street, southeast and southwest corners of the plaza, along with light-flashing police cars.
Still planned restaurants in the area, including Occidental and Cafe du Parc, to remain open during the rallies. Western servants put on glasses and cutlery, and at Cafe du Parc, patrons climbed biscuits and sipped great coffee as they increased their preparations.
.Representatives from both sides of Saturday's event in the district said they did not seek to engage in violence but were ready to respond. The authorities said they were also ready.
"This is not the case here in Washington, DC, so we're ready for it," said DC Police Chief Peter Newsham earlier this week.
Scott Garland, a 54-year-old resident of the Detroit area, said he flew in Washington on Saturday morning and wanted to fly out Saturday night – he's just here for the rally.
He said he came to the proud boys about eight months ago after he became concerned about the violent tactics of the Antifa activists.
"I think we get a bad rap in the media. When they call us white supremacists, it is insane," he said, claiming that the group welcomes members of "all races" , all sexual orientations "welcome.
Garland, who had a black and gold PB hat, said any violence would have to be instigated against demonstrators.
"We will never go over there," he said, waving at the demonstration at Pershing Park. "They will come here and shut it down. That's what I don't understand."
The right groups are assembled under banner Demand Free Speech, the last of three collections – the first two were in New York and San Francisco – Intended to address a wave of social media companies forbid right characters from their platforms.
Proud Boys leader and event organizer Luke Rohlfing told the Daily Beast that the event is also aimed at left-wing anti-fascist activists after the violent clash in Portland last week, conservative author Andy Ngo left the blood, shaken and doused in a vegan milkshake.
The district is well versed in dealing with protesters. In the summer of 2018, Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of the violent and deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in 2017, chose to elect Washington for an anniversary demonstration. Fewer than 40 of the planned 400 supports showed, and were exceeded by thousands of protesters shouting: "Go home, Nazis!" And "No trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!"
A massive police presence kept the two sides separate, and beyond a brief confrontation between some anti-families and the police long after the rally was completed, there were no reports of violence.
The scheduled list of speakers for Saturday's rally includes several notable figures, although police said as late as Friday it was unclear who among the listed guests would come. They include Milo Yiannopoulos, a fire writer who has helped make Breitbart News a leading all-right body and whose actions in cities and college campuses have triggered violent reactions.
Also on the list are right-wing journalist Laura Loomer, Gavin McInnes, the founder of Proud Boys and Jack Posobiec, known for promoting a variety of conspiracy theories, such as those associated with "Pizzagate" and the killing of Democratic National Committee staff Seth Rich in a robbery in the District.
The rally comes two days after tourists and residents came to the district to celebrate July 4 and President Trump's controversial "Salute to America" with added fireworks, his speech and a show of military vehicles, tanks and airplanes.
Fear of violence between Trump supporters and critics was not realized, although there were some minor clashes in the mall and a fight outside the White House, after a member of a Communist group set two flags on fire Pennsylvania Avenue.
A coalition of more than 20 groups – including Black Life Matter DC, immigrant rights group Sanctuary DMV and anti-gentrification organization. Hold DC 4 Me – will host a demonstration all day at Pershing Park. District color community members will lead a dance party to go for "black, brown and native joy in the light of white nationalism and supremacy."
Hannah Natanson and Marissa J. Lang contributed to this report.