Jackson Rebraca, Contributing Writer
After weeks of President Donald Trump claiming rigged election results, right-wing conspiracy site Infowars led a “Stop the Steal” caravan across the country to contest the results of the election.
The caravan, led by Infowars host Owen Shroyer, stopped in Richmond on Thursday and drew a crowd of roughly 200 people. At one point, Shroyer asked how many people in the crowd were from Virginia — less than a quarter of the people gathered raised their hands.
One group of attendees identified themselves as part of the “boogaloo” movement, an anti-government group whose members are often armed at political demonstrations.
“I hope Biden wins so that we can go to war,” organizer Mike Dunn said to a demonstrator during the event.
A small group of counterprotesters, including some VCU students, also attended the event.
“You heard people saying, like, ‘we’re going to run communists over,’” said Taylor Maloney, president of VCU’s Student Government Association. “They’re probably dead serious. If they got the chance, they’d probably hit one of us with their car.”
The caravan traveled to Washington on Saturday. Multiple groups, including the far right fascist Proud Boys and members of the “boogaloo” movement, violently clashed with counterprotesters and press. One journalist at the event said she was stabbed in the ear by a Proud Boys member.
Trump has refused to concede the election, meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden has announced the details of a COVID-19 task force that he plans to implement after his inauguration on Jan. 20.
The Associated Press reported Biden leads Trump in electoral votes, 290 and 232 respectively, with only Georgia’s results remaining uncalled. Biden passed the benchmark of 270 electoral votes to secure the presidency on Nov. 7.
The General Services Administration is tasked with formally recognizing Biden as the president-elect and starting the transition process. Department head Emily Murphy has not begun the transition process, and funds reserved for building Biden’s administration have not been released.
Trump has filed numerous lawsuits to contest election results, most of which are filed in Michigan and Pennsylvania. The suits claim fraudulent mail-in ballots were counted and intentional attempts were made to throw out ballots for the Republican incumbent.
Only one of the suits has been ruled in Trump’s favor, while most cases were dismissed. A Pennsylvania court ruled that some ballots must be segregated in case the state’s extended election deadlines are found unconstitutional. Experts are skeptical the ballots will impact the election’s outcome.
Since August, Trump has questioned the security of mail-in ballots and warned against widespread voter fraud without any evidence to back these claims. On Tuesday, Trump fired Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, after the official repeatedly vouched for the reliability of election results.
VCU political science professor John Aughenbaugh acknowledged the struggles many people face, which could cause them to turn to a politician like Trump. He listed the steady outsourcing of blue-collar jobs and rapidly changing demographics as some of the fears fueling Trump’s campaign.
“I’m not very optimistic that there are policies or that current systems will address their concerns,” said Aughenbaugh about Trump supporters.
Trump is the first president in U.S. history to refuse to concede the election, a custom that dates back to 1896 when William Jennings Bryan lost to former President William McKinley and congratulated him on his win.
Trump’s campaign has continually sent emails and text notifications calling on “patriots” to “defend the election.”
Following messages from the president, supporters of Trump poured out to polling locations and protested outside ballot-counting offices. Some resorted to extreme measures in an attempt to ensure a second term for Trump.
On Nov. 6, two armed men from Chesapeake, Virginia, were arrested outside of the Philadelphia Convention Center after officers found loaded handguns and 160 rounds of ammunition in their car. The men believed fake ballots were being counted.
For many Trump supporters, the fervor hinges on the belief that Trump is the last defense of American democracy. This includes Mack Crawford, a Trump supporter from Maryland who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Richmond.
“I’m afraid that if we can’t get this fixed here in the next 60 or 70 days, we’re never going to have a chance,” Crawford said.