Far-right Trump supporters in Spokane were faced with a contradiction on Wednesday.Here they were in Spokane, marching down rainy sidewalks for a pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest with pro-cop "Thin Blue Line" flags and chanting the pro-cop slogan "Back the Blues."
Meanwhile, over in Washington, D.C., Trump supporters had been the ones clashing with riot cops. They'd been the ones who mobbed the Capitol, broke windows, took down an American flag and replaced it with a Trump one. It wasn't antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters. It was them.
But in Spokane, as crowds of Trump supporters gathered with their "Don't Tread on Me" flags, some carrying firearms and wearing militia-aligned "III percenter" regalia, former state Rep. Matt Shea came bearing a different narrative, a baseless conspiracy that the patriots were being framed.
"It's coming out now that it was antifa that raided the Capitol inside today, trying to make it look like patriots!" Shea shouted through a megaphone.
"Because patriots always 'Back the Blue.' You don't see any riots and looting around here. You just see communists who want to take over our country. And that's not going to happen!"
Shea's not the only one trying to falsely blame antifa.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump tweeted, before Twitter suspended his account. “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"
Shea, for his part, has a history of clashing with law enforcement. He declined to run for re-election last year after having been accused of supporting “domestic terrorism” for his role supporting the armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
Shea is now the pastor at a passionately Pro-Trump Covenant Church, where he's continued to rally followers and spread conspiracy theories.
The day before Spokane's rally, he stood on a truck bed in the parking lot in front of U.S. Sen. Jim Risch’s Coeur d’Alene office and called upon his compatriots to fight.
“We’re fighting and we’re going to continue to fight. We’re heading into a war,” Shea proclaimed on Tuesday. “This was not an election! This was an attack on our country! That’s what this was.”
Shea described the election as “a military operation against this county,” and prayed for God to turn Vice President Mike Pence’s heart “away from any spirit of compromise” and help “save the republic.”
“We do not live in a democracy, Senator Risch, Senator Crapo!” Shea shouted. “We do not live in a democracy! Democracies are what have led us to this point, where people think they can rob us, loot us, close our businesses down, eviscerate our elections, try to destroy our institutions and our livelihoods and our farms! I don’t want to live in a democracy! I love the rule of law.”
"If you do not stand for the republic, you will be voted out of office and you will be primaried, and you will have nobody backing you from this point forward!" Shea said. "Amen?!"
"If the thing goes ill tomorrow, we will fly our flags upside-down, because we have exhausted every other remedy except the final remedy — and that is, we the people rising up," Shea said. "And we will rise up against tyranny because Americans always fight for liberty!"
At Wednesday's rally in Spokane, there weren't very many upside-down flags. But there appeared to be as many Trump flags as American ones.
And so after Shea asked former Spokane Valley City Councilman Caleb Collier to lead the crowd in a call-and-response oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," Collier turned to the counterprotesters and yelled "domestic" — emphasizing who he sees as the enemy.
"There are only two options anymore," Collier, a member of the far-right John Birch Society, said. "You are either a patriot or you are a traitor."
And the crowd shouts "patriot!"
SCENES FROM TODAY'S RALLY IN SPOKANE: