EVERETT — Dismal news for the reelection hopes of President Donald Trump from the nation’s capital couldn’t derail a festive rally of his supporters in Everett Wednesday afternoon.
At the 112th Street park-and-ride along I-5, commuters came and went as about 200 demonstrators gathered at the north end to protest a presidential election they say was stolen.
Despite calls to certify the election results by some Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, including Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, local Trump supporters said the battle isn’t over.
“This is happening because God wants to shake this nation,” said Anita Azariah, vice chair of the Snohomish County Republican Party. “God wants to bring people like you and I out here to tell the people destroying our country that we are not going to take it. We are going to take our country back.”
In Olympia, meanwhile, a similar-themed demonstration drew several hundred men and women to the steps of the state Capitol. Afterwards, several broke through an entry gate and onto the grounds of the governor’s mansion before Washington State Patrol officers managed to get them to leave the property. No one was arrested.
Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudi, “were never in any danger,” authorities said.
The Everett rally was organized in solidarity with the “Million MAGA March,” a protest of Trump supporters in Washington, D.C., to object to an election which they contend was stolen. The event in D.C. escalated into a violent invasion of the Capitol building.
“Here today we are not about turmoil and chaos, we are about the truth and stopping the fraud in the state and in the country,” said Doug Roulstone, chair of the Snohomish County Republican Party. “No matter what happens in Washington, D.C., we cannot stop fighting.”
Chants of “God Bless America” were followed with calls of “God Bless Donald J. Trump.”
Shades of red, white and blue were ubiquitous across the crowd. Masks were few and far between.
Mask mandates, Antifa agitators, sex education, the closure of businesses, “extreme Muslims” and the “planned pandemic” were skewered by the lineup of speakers that included Roulstone, Azariah and Tim Hazelo, chair of the Republican Party in Island County.
“Every glitch and mistake that happened in the election went in favor of the Democrats, not one went in favor of the Republicans,” Hazelo said. “These were not mistakes, mark my words, these were not mistakes.”
Arranged through Facebook, Wednesday’s event was described as an opportunity to “Stand in solidarity with our President and against the stolen election.” Azariah, the event’s organizer, said the rally had the support of the local Republican Party but was not sponsored by the group.
After 45 minutes of speeches from a flatbed trailer, demonstrators moved from the parking lot to the overpasses above I-5 to wave flags in favor of the lame duck president.
Support or disdain was difficult to interpret from the car horns of passersby when a thumb or middle finger weren’t included.
As supporters left the Everett parking lot Wednesday, two women chatted quietly.
“Anything can happen,” one of the women said. “Well, we need something to,” the other replied.
By 2:30 p.m., a disconnected caravan of attendees traveled along Everett Mall Way and Broadway Avenue to north Everett. The parade of about 100 Trump sign-toting vehicles circled downtown Everett and the Snohomish County Courthouse.
Police officers milled around the park-and-ride and the courthouse. A brief confrontation between bystanders and Trump supporters downtown was quickly resolved by law enforcement, according to officer Aaron Snell, spokesman for the Everett Police Department.
In Olympia, the crowd included many toting American flags, some openly carrying firearms and none wearing masks.
Speakers expressed outrage at the presidential election results and the state’s COVID-19 restrictions. Chants of “Freedom” and “Open up” percolated throughout the more than two-hour rally.
As of 2 p.m., Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis estimated 500 people took part in the loud and, up to that point, incident-free gathering.
He said there had been no reports of anyone “attempting to breach” the Capitol or other state buildings, all of which are closed to public access during the pandemic.
“Largely, this has been a peaceful protest,” he said.
However, shortly before 3 p.m., many participants marched a short distance to the gated road leading to the executive mansion. Some broke through the gate and gathered on the lawn.
Inslee and his wife, Trudi, had been in the mansion in the early afternoon. They were in a safe location and never in danger, said WSP Sgt. Darren Wright.
Wright said there was no property damage other than the gate. At the time of the breach,only one law enforcement officer, was stationed at the gate. Wright said an investigation of the incident will be conducted.
In the meantime, the state patrol is gearing up for more protests when the Legislature convenes its 2021 session Monday. Access to the Capitol campus will be restricted but not prohibited.
“There will be a substantial law enforcement presence,” Loftis said.
But, he said, that doesn’t mean there won’t be incidents demanding response.
“In a time when people are agitated and come on campus, sometimes to wreak havoc, havoc is wreaked,” he said.
Herald writer Jerry Cornfield and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.