Then-President Donald Trump addressed more than ten thousand supporters gathered for what was billed as a “Save America” rally on the National Mall not far from the White House. In the crowd, one person waved a white flag with a black silhouette of an AR-15. Another held aloft a Confederate battle flag with a large AR-15 in the center. Both banners carried the same slogan: COME AND TAKE IT.
Many who came that day considered the AR-15 a weapon to help them reject Trump's defeat at the polls in November. Members of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia, led the most organized effort to bring AR-15s to Washington.
“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war,” Stewart Rhodes, the group’s leader, told members in a chat group after the election. Oath Keepers brought AR-15s and thousands of rounds of ammo and other weapons to a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, a ten-minute drive from the Capitol. As the riot got under way, the man in charge of the hotel operation repeatedly asked Oath Keeper
leaders to give him the green light to send men with guns over to the Capitol.
“We are at WAR,” Vallejo messaged.