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September 20, 2017

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Low turnout at Trump supporters' rally for unity in Washington

There were a few tense moments Saturday at a demonstration in Washington in support of US President Donald, but the event was peaceful overall after it attracted fewer participants than expected.

The rally, which had been advertised as the "mother of all rallies," drew only a few hundred people after police prepared by blocking off streets with dump trucks and fencing off a grassy area near the Washington Monument in anticipation of a large turnout.

Several participants said the rally was intended to send a message of unity and to show that Trump supporters support diversity.

One tense moment occurred when a group of Black Lives Matter protesters showed up waving banners. They were given a chance to speak by one of the emcees of the Trump rally, who said their spokesman could have "two minutes of our platform to put your message out."

The Black Lives Matter group was later escorted away from the rally by security.

Another tense moment occurred earlier when a woman with a megaphone tried to interrupt one of the speakers. She was shouted down by pro-Trump supporters chanting "USA!, USA!" who surrounded her until she left without incident.

Aside from its low turnout, people who attended the rally said they were satisfied that it had sent a message to Congress, the media and the world that they stand united in defence of American culture and values.

"We're patriotic and we're fighting to take our country back," Eileen Barrick, 52, of Sharonville, Ohio told dpa. A long-time Trump supporter, she travelled several hundred kilometres to Washington with the group Bikers for Trump.

Speakers included representatives of Latinos for Trump, Gays for Trump, congressional candidates and Christian organizations, praising Trump's policies. Patriotic songs blasted from loud speakers and American flags fluttered in a light breeze.

Barrick and others who attended the rally said they expected more people to attend.

"I'd a loved to have seen this a million deep," said Collin Kelly, 37, of Sweetwater, New Jersey.

Kelly speculated that recent hurricanes that affected Florida, Texas and Louisiana might have been a reason more people did not attend. Trump supporters in those states likely are not able to travel as they deal with the aftermath of the storms, he said.

In an unrelated rally held nearby members of a group known as the Juggalos protested their designation by the FBI as a "loosely organized hybrid gang." Juggalos, as supporters of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse are known, paint their faces like clowns and have a symbol that shows a figure carrying a hatchet.

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