The leader of Bikers for Trump, a band of motorcycle enthusiasts who often were an unofficial security force at Donald Trump’s campaign events, said they were standing down rather than confront thousands of protesters at the inauguration.
Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox said they weren’t in Washington to silence protesters, who were blocking many checkpoints to the National Mall.
“Regardless of their protesting, at the end of the day Trump’s going to be the president. So I’ve asked my guys, ‘If during our rally they come up and protest, just chuckle at them,’” Mr. Cox told The Washington Times at a checkpoint off John Marshal Park, about three blocks from the Capitol.
Bikers for Trump became a force within the Trump political movement, holding rallies across battleground states and providing a barrier — the so-called “Wall of Meat” — between Mr. Trump’s supporters and protesters at campaign events.
“We have played a tremendous role in this campaign and couldn’t be happier. And so now it is time to get to work. Our work isn’t trying to silence protests,” Mr. Cox said. “We’re going to spin our wheels trying to do something positive. We don’t want to be a counter narrative to them and that’s what the media wants to talk about.”
At the checkpoint, a line of young black women chained themselves together in front of the entrance. Other protesters linked arms and blocked the entrance and chanted “go home!” at people attempting to enter.
“We’re not blocking people’s freedom. We have freedom to do this. There are other checkpoints,” said Michaela Brown, 24, a Black Lives Matter leader from Baltimore who was leading the demonstration.
“We got to stop this B.S. that Trump is going to put in place,” she said. “We’re demanding the liberty and freedom we deserve.”
Bikers for Trump plans a halftime celebration after Mr. Trump takes the oath of office with music and guest speakers.
Bikers for Trump member Bill Brown drove from Buffalo, New York, for the inauguration. He was abiding by the stand-down order but was ready to intervene if the protests turned violent.
“I’m just here to see nothing illegal happens like buildings getting trashed, cars getting burned or people getting hurt,” said the 69-year-old former state trooper. “If they need bodies in the way, we’ll put bodies in the way — a ‘Wall of Meat.’”
“I’m 100 percent for rightful, peaceful protest,” said Mr. Brown. “I believe it’s part of the American way.”