A rally of President Donald Trump’s supporters advertised as the “mother of all rallies” drew only a few hundred people on Saturday in Washington after police prepared by blocking off streets and fencing off a grassy area near the Washington Monument in anticipation of a large turnout.
But attendance was larger than expected at an unrelated rally held nearby by members of a group known as the Juggalos. They protested their designation by the FBI as a “loosely organized hybrid gang.” Juggalos, as supporters of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse are known, paint their faces like clowns and have a symbol that shows a figure carrying a hatchet.
Collecting around a stage set up at the Lincoln Memorial, more than 1,000 Juggalos turned out to listen to music and bring attention to what they say is an unfair gang label from the FBI that has cost some of their face-painted friends and family their jobs, led to harassment by authorities.
Alesia Modglin, a pizza delivery worker from southwest Missouri, said she drove to Washington to protest the FBI’s classification. She said the group draws in young people who grew up in troubled homes, according to a USA Today report.
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“It’s a family … Everybody loves each other,” said Modglin, who came to the nation’s capital with her husband, two toddlers and other family members. She said some of the band’s songs are “demonic, but there are hidden messages of a peaceful place.”
Best of all, she said, there’s “no judgment.”
Other Juggalos (and Juggalettes, as their female members are known) told stories of losing jobs, of being stopped by police, of being threatened with having their children taken away, all because of their musical preferences and face-painting.
A woman from Manassas, Va., said she lost her job as a probation-parole officer “because of the type of music I listen to.”
There were a few tense moments at the Trump rally, but the event was peaceful.
Several participants said the rally was intended to send a message of unity and to show that Trump supporters support diversity.
Trump was not in town.
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, ABC News reported.
One tense moment occurred when a group of Black Lives Matter protesters showed up waving banners. They were given a chance to speak by one of the emcees of the Trump rally, who said their spokesman could have “two minutes of our platform to put your message out.”
The Black Lives Matter group was later escorted away from the rally by security.
Aside from its low turnout, people who attended the rally said they were satisfied that it had sent a message to Congress, the media and the world that they stand united in defense of American culture and values.
“We’re patriotic and we’re fighting to take our country back,” said Eileen Barrick, 52, of Sharonville, Ohio. A longtime Trump supporter, she traveled to Washington with the group Bikers for Trump.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.