D.C. ral­lies show na­tion’s diver­sity and di­vi­sions

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - Nation&world - By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Or­ga­niz­ers had dubbed it the Mother of All Ral­lies and hoped to bring out thou­sands to pack the Na­tional Mall on Satur­day in sup­port of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. In the end, hun­dreds of flag-wav­ing demon­stra­tors did their best to make some noise in sup­port of the pres­i­dent, who had left town for the week­end.

The pro-Trump rally was part of a day of di­verse po­lit­i­cal demon­stra­tions in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal that high­lighted the stark po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions in the United States.

It was pre­ceded Satur­day morn­ing by a small anti-Trump protest near the White House, where about two dozen peo­ple de­manded tougher ac­tion against Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in re­tal­i­a­tion for Moscow’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion.

Wear­ing T-shirts that read, “We’re not PUTIN up with this any­more,” the demon­stra­tors staged a brief rally be­fore march­ing to the nearby home of the Rus­sian am­bas­sador.

While the pro-Trump demon­stra­tors clearly out­num­bered the anti-Trump con­tin­gent, both sides were dwarfed by the jug­ga­los, as sup­port­ers of the rap group In­sane Clown Posse are known. In front of the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial, about 1,500 jug­ga­los staged an all-day rally and con­cert to protest what they say is class-based dis­crim­i­na­tion by law en­force­ment.

A 2011 re­port by the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Gang Task Force la­beled the jug­ga­los, who fa­vor ex­ten­sive tat­toos and out­landish face paint, a “loosely or­ga­nized hy­brid gang.” It’s the same clas­si­fi­ca­tion used for overtly vi­o­lent gangs such as the Bloods and the Crips.

The rap duo has de­vel­oped an in­tensely de­voted fan base over the course of a 25-year ca­reer, and its fans claim to be a non­vi­o­lent com­mu­nity. Pro­test­ers chanted “fam­ily!” as well as sev­eral ob­scene slo­gans aimed at the FBI.

The band, along with the ACLU, sued the FBI in 2014 seek­ing to change the clas­si­fi­ca­tion but with lit­tle suc­cess so far.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the pro-Trump demon­stra­tion had urged peo­ple to at­tend by say­ing: “If you stand for pa­tri­o­tism and free­dom, this rally is for you!”

Al­though far fewer peo­ple turned out than the or­ga­niz­ers ex­pected, per­haps not sur­pris­ing in Washington, an over­whelm­ingly Demo­cratic town, the demon­stra­tors were de­ter­mined to show their sup­port for the pres­i­dent.

“We are here to tell the world, the me­dia and the Congress, not just the Democrats but the Repub­li­cans as well, that Pres­i­dent Trump has our full sup­port and that it’s time to drain this swamp,” one of the speak­ers said from the stage as the crowd ap­plauded.

Trump was spend­ing the week­end at his golf club in New Jersey.

At one point dur­ing the rally, a group of Black Lives Mat­ter ac­tivists ap­peared near the stage. But the mo­men­tary ten­sion was de­fused when one of the Trump rally or­ga­niz­ers in­vited them on­stage and of­fered one of them a mi­cro­phone. “It’s your right to say what­ever you be­lieve, and it’s their (the crowd’s) right to let you know what they think about what you’re say­ing,” the rally or­ga­nizer said. “The im­por­tant thing is that ev­ery­body has a right to speak their mind.”

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