Holding U.S. flags and marching in orderly formation as they shouted “Reclaim America!” the 100 or so white nationalists who demonstrated in D.C. last Saturday wore matching hats, pants, jackets — and white face masks.
And it was that last sartorial choice that attracted attention on social media, where some people asked why the group — Patriot Front, an organization promoting “American Fascism” and deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — was able to get away with what seemed like a violation of D.C. law.
It’s currently illegal in the city to wear a mask under a number of circumstances, notably to avoid identification while engaging in illegal activities. But the law, which dates back to 1982, also says mask-wearing is prohibited if the wearer intends to intimidate or threaten another person, or if they try to deprive someone of other rights guaranteed by law. Virginia has a similar law on the books, which was tested last month, when a single person was arrested during a large pro-gun demonstration in Richmond.