DC mayor calls in National Guard ahead of pro-Trump protests

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A stage is set up on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in preparation for a rally on Jan. 6, the day when Congress is scheduled to meet to formally finalize the presidential election results. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON – Bracing for possible violence, the nation's capital has mobilized the National Guard ahead of planned protests by President Donald Trump's supporters in connection with the congressional vote expected Wednesday to affirm Joe Biden's election victory.

Trump's supporters are planning to rally Tuesday and Wednesday, seeking to bolster the president's unproven claims of widespread voter fraud. “There are people intent on coming to our city armed,” D.C. Acting Police Chief Robert Contee said Monday.

A pro-Trump rally in December ended in violence as hundreds of Trump supporters, wearing the signature black and yellow of the Proud Boys faction, sought out confrontations with a collective of local activists attempting to bar them from Black Lives Matter Plaza, an area near the White House.

On Monday, Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested the leader of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 36, after he arrived in Washington ahead of this week's protests. Tarrio was accused of burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn down from a historic Black church in downtown Washington during the December protests.

A warrant had been issued for Tarrio's arrest for destruction of property, police said. He was also facing a weapons charges after officers found him with two high-capacity firearm magazines when he was arrested, a police spokesman said.

Trump has repeatedly encouraged this week's protests and hinted that he may get personally involved. Over the weekend, he retweeted a promotion for the rally with the message, “I will be there. Historic Day!”

At a November rally, which drew about 15,000 people, Trump staged a limousine drive-by past cheering crowds in Freedom Plaza, on the city's iconic Pennsylvania Avenue. And at the December rally, which drew smaller numbers but a larger contingent of Proud Boys, Trump’s helicopter flew low over cheering crowds on the National Mall.

The protests coincide with Wednesday's congressional vote expected to certify the Electoral College results, which Trump continues to dispute,