Hundreds of members of the hate group “Patriot Front” marched through downtown Washington, DC on Saturday evening.
Videos of the march show a long parade of masked men stomping past the Lincoln Memorial to the beat of a snare drum, carrying shields, American flags – some of them upside-down, others bearing the Patriot Front logo – and a large banner reading “Reclaim America.”
In videos from the scene onlookers could be heard jeering at them.
“F***ing scumbags,” one man grumbles.
“Get out of the country if you don’t like it!” a woman shouts.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front is a “white nationalist hate group” that evolved out of an earlier group called Vanguard America. That group splintered in 2017 after one of its members, James Alex Fields, used his car to kill a counter-protester named Heather Heyer during the infamous “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Patriot Front is an image-obsessed organization that rehabilitated the explicitly fascist agenda of Vanguard America with garish patriotism,” the SPLC says. “Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country.”
Those theatrics were on full display on Saturday night, when police warily monitored the long procession as it made its way to Arlington Memorial Bridge. A police lieutenant later told The Daily Beast they were simply “waiting for people to leave.”
That part took longer than expected. According to the Beast, dozens of the masked marchers were left stranded after not all of them could fit into the U-Haul truck they’d booked to carry them out of DC.
The vehicle was apparently forced to make multiple trips, leaving some members waiting in the cold for up to three hours. When the final caravan began to leave, a police officer pointed out that someone had left his shield behind.
Patriot Front subscribes to an explicitly racist ideology, denying the citizenship of non-white Americans.
“An African, for example, may have lived, worked, and even been classed as a citizen in America for centuries, yet he is not American,” the group’s manifesto says. “He is, as he likely prefers to be labelled, an African in America. The same rule applies to others who are not of the founding stock of our people as well as to those who do not share the common unconscious that permeates throughout our greater civilization, and the European diaspora.”
Saturday was not Patriot Front’s first march in DC. In February 2020, the group also drew attention when it paraded through the National Mall.
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