City officials in Washington DC have warned supporters of President Donald Trump not to bring their guns to protests against congress certifying his election defeat this week.
Congress is constitutionally mandated to certify the presidential election results on Wednesday, in what would normally be a formality overseen by Vice-President Mike Pence but at least 12 Republican senators and some 140 Republican House of Representatives members have pledged to vote against certification of Biden’s win.
“We have received information that there are individuals intent on bringing firearms into our city and that just will not be tolerated,” Police Chief Robert Contee told a city hall news conference on Monday, adding that anyone found doing so or provoking violence would be arrested.
Hundreds of National Guard troops have been called up to help keep order in the federal capital, the New York Post reports. They will be joined by the US Capitol Police, US Park Police and US Secret Service.
Trump has summoned supporters to this week’s gatherings, tweeting on Sunday: “I will be there”, and, “it will be wild”.
Thousands of Trump supporters, including some far-right nationalist groups that openly carry firearms at protests elsewhere, are expected to converge on the capital starting on Tuesday.
Contee said the protests could be bigger than November and December rallies marred by stabbings and brawls as hundreds of Proud Boys, a group of self-described “Western chauvinists”, and other Trump loyalists clashed with counter-protesters and sought fights with antifa and Black Lives Matter activists.
The head of the Proud Boys pledged on social media that “record numbers” of members would attend, suggesting they may dress in all black like antifa activists. “We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams,” tweeted Enrique Tarrio.