I’ll briefly interrupt my ongoing romp through the 1520s here to give a brief report on what I did in the morning yesterday, just a couple hours before the MAGA mobs marched into the U.S. Capitol.
Our Quaker meeting had been in touch in recent weeks with the pastors at the four churches that the MAGAs– who are nearly all not from the city– vandalized when they last came to town, December 12. The pastor at one of them, Luther Place on Thomas Circle NW, sent out a request for clergy to come join her in a prayer vigil at the church yesterday. Specifically, the vigil was at and around the “Black Lives Matter” sign that the church had erected on their grounds to replace the one that the MAGAs tore down and vandalized on December 12. Since Quakers have no distinction between “clergy” and “laity”, three of our meeting’s members turned up for the prayer vigil between 9 and 11 am. There were a total of some 20-24 people in the vigil.
The church is located on a corner that is usually fairly busy, on the edge of Thomas Circle from where several roads fan out: 14th Sty NW, N St NW, Vermont Ave, etc. There was quite a lot of (pandemic-era) normal traffic all around. But also some city buses mysteriously parked alongside the church. (Ready to transport arrestees?) One of the other vandalized churches, National City Church, is on the next corner along. An MPDC squad car was parked by “our” church, though I think there was no-one in it.
Walking to Luther Place, and then for the two-plus hours I was there, I fairly frequently saw small groups of Trump supporters walking through the streets– usually heading for the White House Ellipse, where he was due to speak at 1 pm but where people had been gathering since early morning. These people were wearing the red hats and other Trump regalia; all resolutely unmasked; many were carrying large flags: either “Trump 2020”, or yellow Gadsden flags, or Stars and Stripes– but all big! They seemed to be people from out-of-town, who had parked near to, or north of, where we were and were walking from their cars to the Ellipse. I also some some emerging from some of the hotels around. It felt like a foreign invasion. Many of them strutted along like conquerors– a bit like Israeli settlers I have seen carrying their flags through occupied East Jerusalem on the annual “Jerusalem Day”, though not as numerous or scary as the East Jerusalem paraders. They seemed to be in generally high spirits.
I experienced their presence as pretty scary, knowing the destruction and havoc they wrought here on December 12. But I tried to be neutral or friendly to them.
At our vigil, it was cold! A couple of times, one or two MAGAs, seeing what we were doing, would “burst into” the heart of the rough circle we formed in an apparent attempt to disrupt what we doing or anyway to swaggering grab the attention of their fellow-MAGA’s. But those “incursions” were brief and a bit puzzling. None of our vigillers responded and the MAGAs just moved on southward.
One other thing I saw that was interesting was a cavalcade of at least six cars driving by in close formation that all had large, very similar placards on top, some of which said “END CCP.” This reminded me of the Astroturf, anti-China organization I encountered in DC back in July, which had been organized by Steve Bannon’s ally Guo Wengui. In a quick look at the website of Guo’s outfit Guo Media today, I saw no reference to that car cavalcade, but I did see that Steve Bannon was doing a lot of blogging about the events on Capitol Hill yesterday.
Anyway, here are some photos I took at yesterday’s vigil: