Supporters of President Donald Trump rally ahead of Congress' upcoming Electoral College vote certification in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election as Congress meets to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
Hundreds of people had gathered in Freedom Plaza as of 3 p.m. Tuesday with some wearing flak jackets, walkie-talkies and other military-style gear as police and the Secret Service monitored the area, The Washington Post reported.
Trump praised the protesters in a series of tweets on Tuesday evening, repeating unfounded claims that the presidential election had been "stolen" from him.
"Washington is being inundated with people who don't want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won't take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Trump wrote.
Trump also announced he plans to speak at a rally on the Ellipse on Wednesday morning.
Businesses in the city were seen boarding up their windows and the National Guard began assisting D.C. Police in anticipation of thousands of people rallying in support of Trump as Congress prepared to award Biden an electoral college victory in a joint session Wednesday.
Trump, his supporters and dozens of Republicans in the House and Senate are challenging Biden's victory, citing baseless claims of widespread fraud and other kinds of election irregularities.
Road closures and parking restrictions went into effect early in the day, city officials said, while police cars and city plows were seen blocking streets near a prominent Black church.
Demonstrations began with several hundred Trump supporters marching from the National Mall to the U.S. Capitol at about 1 p.m., WRC-TV reported.
In a late-afternoon rally, speakers including Republican political operative Roger Stone and conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones were on the bill.
The demonstrations are set to continue Wednesday as Congress meets.
D.C. police on Monday issued warnings to protesters not to bring guns to the city and said they will concentrate on protecting houses of worship which express support for Black Lives Matter protesters.
Police Tuesday said they pulled over a North Carolina bus for a traffic violation and found one person inside possessed two firearms -- a rifle and a semiautomatic handgun -- as well as a drum magazine capable of holding additional bullets.
Metropolitan AME Church in Washington Monday filed suit against the far-right group Proud Boys, one of the groups leading the pro-Trump protests, accusing them of taking down and burning a Black Lives Matter banner.
Also Monday, police arrested Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio on charges of burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from Asbury United Methodist Church during pro-Trump protests last month.