Armed conservatives militias storms Washington to defend the second Amendment
In Washington on Saturday, militias and conservative activists gathered to demand defense for gun ownership rights, term limits for Congressional lawmakers, and stricter U.S. borders against immigrants, among others.
Waving American flags, Confederate flags, and Trump 2020 banner, the group of nearly 100 protesters deposited their weapons at a park in northern Virginia before crossing a bridge into the District of Columbia, where guns can not be carried openly.
The rally wrapped up peacefully, though it came amid concerns about a surge in political violence after clashes between activists at events such as the 2017 right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a woman was killed.
Gathered on the Washington mall between the White House and Congress, the demonstrators vowed on Saturday to be more active ahead of the elections in November 2020.
“What’s been happening the past several years isn’t working, so you’re going to be seeing more of this,” said Gary Sigler, who led security for the event and formerly led a Maryland militia.
Sigler, 48, said he also patrolled Virginia’s statehouse in July alongside several other militia members when a special legislative session was held to discuss changes to gun laws.
After that event, Virginia’s attorney general said the militia members may have violated state law by purporting to secure a public area, a role reserved to law enforcement bodies.
Sigler’s roughly 30-member security team on Saturday decided against wearing battle fatigues in order to be more approachable, he said. Instead, they carried walkie-talkies and earpieces, and wore matching black shirts, khaki pants, and orange armbands.
But some attendees said they feared the spectacle still might intimidate onlookers.
“They’re giving off a little ‘I want to take over the government’ vibe, even though most people here just want to fix it,” said Michael Cosper, the president of Heartland Defenders, an Ohio group that does not identify as a militia but holds firearm training in addition to preparing for emergencies.
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