Organizers of the annual pro-life human rights demonstration March for Life announced they will not hold an in-person rally in Washington, D.C., this year, but will hold online events instead on Jan. 29, following the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riot and because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol, this year’s March for Life will look different,” the March for Life said in a statement.
The organizers explained that the change in plan was for “the protection of all of those who participate in the annual March, as well as the many law enforcement personnel and others who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event.”
The 2021 rally, they said, will take place virtually, and “we are asking all participants to stay home and to join the March virtually.”
March for Life’s President Jeanne Mancini said Christian athlete Tim Tebow is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech, according to The Washington Times.
The annual March for Life began more than four-and-a-half decades ago after the Roe v. Wade ruling.
For the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden this week, 21,000 National Guard members will be deployed in Washington, D.C., according to USA Today.
On Friday night, authorities arrested a Virginia man, identified as 31-year-old Wesley Beeler, who reportedly drove to a U.S. Capitol security checkpoint with a gun, 500 rounds of ammunition and unauthorized credentials for the presidential inauguration, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Beeler, who was charged with illegal possession of a weapon and ammunition among other crimes, was released on his own recognizance the following day.
He told the Journal that he worked for MVP Protective Services since Jan. 8, and that this company was working with Live Nation Entertainment Inc. to provide security services for media for the presidential inauguration.
The storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 came as President Trump was delivering his speech at the Save America March at the Ellipse near the White House that was peacefully attended by hundreds of thousands of his supporters. After his speech, thousands walked to the Capitol where a separate planned rally was to be held that afternoon. That event, however, never took place because the riot had already ensued.
In his speech to supporters, the president said Republicans need to “fight much harder.” He also urged them to protest the certification of the election results, which he argues were tainted by fraud.
“We’re going to cheer on brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Trump added, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
While the president said he would go with his supporters to the Capitol, he didn't, though he encouraged them to “fight like hell” for the country.
“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said. “Let the weak ones get out,” he went on. “This is a time for strength.”
Trump’s critics argue that the speech incited the violence that resulted in the deaths of five Americans. Investigators said the siege was planned a month ago and was “not just a protest that spiraled out of control,” as CNN reported Thursday. The FBI, the New York Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police also knew beforehand about the plans for a “war” at the Capitol, as per both The Washington Post and Washington Times.
Pipe bombs that were found at Republican National Committee headquarters and the nearby headquarters of the Democratic National Committee were planted before Trump's speech at the Ellipse.
Those who died at the Capitol include an unarmed woman who was shot by Capitol police, three others who reportedly died from health emergencies, and Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died on Jan. 7 after he suffered injuries while responding to the breach. Another Capitol police officer who responded to the riot died by suicide. It’s unknown whether the riot and aftermath contributed to his decision to take his own life.