On stage, newly elected congresswoman, and Q-Anon adherent, Marjorie Taylor Greene whipped up the crowd under a sign reading “#StoptheSteal.”
Georgia “is not a blue state,” said Taylor Greene, dubbed by Trump as a GOP star in the making. The crowd at the Capitol seemed to agree, chanting “Mar-jor-ie” between applause lines.
“The radical left is the party of violence. They are the party of hate. They are the party of racism,” Taylor Greene said, vowing to fight alongside the president to overturn the election results.
Several protesters noticed the absence of the state’s top Republican elected officials, with one speaker asking, “Where’s (Gov.) Brian Kemp?”
“I’m not surprised the GOP is not behind Trump right now because they haven’t really been throughout his presidency,” Labrecque said.
Asked who he thinks will ultimately prevail, Labrecque said, “I think it’s too early to tell.”
“I think if Joe Biden is inaugurated, you’re going to see a lot more of this,” he said, gesturing to the raucous crowd.
For some in the crowd, the stakes couldn’t be more high. Among the chants generated Saturday: “The gates of Hell will not prevail.”
Trump supporter Shane West, 46, was a bit more measured. He said he was a lifelong Democrat until 2016. Now, he’s convinced his former party stole the election.
How did they do it? The Vinings resident said he wasn’t sure but knows “the fix is in.”
But unlike many of the other protesters at the Capitol, he said he thinks Biden will be America’s next president.
“I hope that isn’t the case,” he said. “But if anyone can overcome (the alleged fraud), it’s Donald Trump.”
As the pro-Trump protest neared its end, a group of about 20 counterprotesters, most clad in black, gathered across the street, exhorting the president’s supporters to “get over it, you lost.”
About a half-dozen of the counterdemonstrators came heavily armed but remained on the outskirts of the Trump rally. Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol were on hand and managed to keep the peace.
Trump supporters also gathered Saturday at CNN Center, a mile away from the Capitol. Among the president’s backers there: Chris Hill, the leader of the Georgia Security Force III% militia, a far-right paramilitary group.
Speaking to his phone as he livestreamed through his YouTube account, Hill sounded defiant.
“Free people coming together. It’s now or never,” he said. “Trump 2020. It ain’t over yet.”
A number of people around Hill were armed, several in all-black with their faces covered. Hill said his group was not armed.
“We came up here without our rifles. We wanted to go incognito,” he said.
Hill said he would “reevaluate” if the other side is armed. The other side was a smaller group of pro-Biden demonstrators, and the group screamed profanities at each other across Centennial Olympic Park Drive as cars driving by honked to show their support for one side or another.
“They didn’t flip it,” he said of Georgia.
Trump supporters also spilled over at nearby State Farm Arena. They also faced a small group of Biden supporters gathered across the street.
Janelle Bowen came all the way from Pike County to join the pro-Trump demonstration in downtown Atlanta.
“We came here to support Trump and expose this election fraud and stop the stealing of votes,” said Bowen, 53.
A Biden presidency will mean an immediate loss of rights, she said, including the option of wearing a mask during the pandemic.
“All of our rights are going to be taken away,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think Trump should concede. “We will protest, vote again, whatever it takes to get the legal votes counted.”