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Washington • Several dozen people assembled Saturday outside the White House to demand an investigation into the unfounded internet rumor known as "Pizzagate."
Wearing T-shirts and holding banners defending the conspiracy theory which falsely linked Hillary Clinton to an alleged child-sex-trafficking ring operating out of a D.C. pizza parlor protesters took turns climbing onto an elevated stage in Lafayette Square to demand politicians and mainstream news media take their claims seriously.
"I don't have any doubt that Pizzagate is real," said Kori Hayes, who drove with his wife and three kids to Washington from Middleburg, Fla., on Friday night for the event. "But nothing is being said about it."
The demonstration came a day after the widely debunked conspiracy theory suffered two further blows.
On Friday, a North Carolina man pleaded guilty to weapons and assault charges in connection with an ill-fated attempt to expose the alleged sex-trafficking operation.
Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, admitted traveling to Comet Ping Pong in northwest Washington on Dec. 4, anticipating a violent confrontation over his personal investigation of Pizzagate. He entered the restaurant holding an assault rifle, prompting a panicked evacuation by workers and customers. Welch fired the rifle at least once while searching for evidence of child sex abuse. After finding none, he surrendered to police.
Also on Friday, Alex Jones, a conspiracy-loving media personality who pushed the Pizzagate narrative, apologized for his role in spreading the viral story.
Jones posted a 6-minute video on his website, "InfoWars," in which he apologized to James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong.
"I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him," Jones said.
Neither of those developments dissuaded the 50 or so protesters from demonstrating outside the White House on Saturday.
Hayes called InfoWars "the only place you can get the news nowadays where it's not opinion," but said he wasn't bothered by Jones' about-face on Pizzagate.
"This paper in my hand is at least enough for an investigation," he said, holding a flier labeled "Pizzagate/Pedogate" that listed "pedophile code words and symbols" supposedly found at Comet Ping Pong.
Hayes wore a shirt saying "Pizzagate is Not Fake News." His wife, Danielle, 31, wore one reading "Investigate Pizzagate."
Their three children, ages 9, 5 and 2, each wore shirts saying "I Am Not Pizza .pizzagate."
"We've been watching since the John Podesta emails came out on Wikileaks," Danielle said. "And we just followed it down the rabbit hole."
They said they learned of Saturday's protest from a video posted to YouTube by David Seaman.
Seaman, who spoke at the rally, declined to speak to The Washington Post, calling the newspaper "fake news" and screaming expletives at a reporter.