PORTLAND, Oregon – Calling on election officials to “count every vote,” protesters marched through the streets of several U.S. cities on Wednesday in response to President Trump’s aggressive efforts to challenge the vote count in Tuesday’s presidential election.
In Minneapolis, protesters blocked a freeway, prompting arrests. In Portland, hundreds of people gathered on the waterfront to protest the president’s attempts to intervene in the vote count as a separate group protesting police and urging racial justice swept through the center -City, smashing store windows and confronting police and National Guard troops.
In Phoenix, around 150 pro-Trump protesters, some of them armed, gathered outside the county registrar’s office where a closely watched vote tally could help determine the election outcome.
At several points, protesters have argued that Adrian Fontes, the county official who oversees elections in Maricopa County, incorrectly failed to count certain ballots and cost Mr Trump votes in the most populous county Arizona – although there is no evidence that the irregular ballots were thrown.
Keely Varvel, Mr Fontes’ chief deputy, said there were no plans to stop the ballot count due to the protest outside the building. “We still plan to finish our ballot processing work and release more results tonight,” Ms. Varvel said.
In Detroit, another group of pro-Trump ballot observers met earlier in the day outside a counting center in Detroit, demanding that officials “stop counting” ballots after the Trump campaign had sued to stop the count in Michigan.
Mr Trump said on Wednesday he won the election long before major states counted all of their ballots. He spent much of the day claiming, without evidence, that people were trying to ‘steal’ the election from him and question the legitimacy of the many ballots mailed due to the coronavirus pandemic .
By early Thursday, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was barely a handful of electoral votes to have won the election, and Mr. Trump’s campaign was mounting an aggressive legal effort to challenge the tally, filing lawsuits in Michigan, Georgia and in Pennsylvania.
“It’s such a dangerous time,” said Carol Carmick, 59, who said she joined the protests in Portland out of fears Mr. Trump would try to stay in power even if he lost the election. .
Protesters have also rallied in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere, with some continuing the anti-racial justice and police protests that have rocked the country since the police assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. . Other demonstrations are planned in the coming days.
In Minneapolis, several hundred protesters angry at the president’s statements marched on Interstate 94, prompting police to clear the road.
“Our goal is not to allow Donald Trump to steal this election from the American people,” Nekima Levy Armstrong, a lawyer who was part of the protest, said in a telephone interview from the highway. She said protesters had stopped traffic and police, some on horseback, had started making arrests and were not allowing protesters to leave.
The Minnesota State Patrol said on twitter that it was stopping demonstrators and that demonstrating on the highway “is illegal and very dangerous for pedestrians and motorists”.
In New York City, protesters staged a peaceful protest in Manhattan earlier Wednesday to demand that every vote be counted and for racial equality, but hostile clashes between protesters and police developed later when protesters briefly turned halted traffic in the West Village, and officers. pushed protesters onto sidewalks and arrested at least 20 people.
In Portland, hundreds of people marched through the downtown area. “The vote is over. The fight continues, ”said a sign. The crowd then stopped at a separate “Count Every Vote” rally along the waterfront, where speakers expressed fears that Mr. Trump, who lost decisively in Oregon, is trying to sabotage the election and prevent the counting of votes in other states.
Part of the crowd passed through the city center, where some people smashed windows. At that point, dozens of police started chasing the crowds through the streets and declared a riot. Governor Kate Brown had extended an emergency declaration earlier today, allowing her to activate the National Guard which joined operations on Wednesday night. Authorities said they had made 10 arrests.
The city has seen persistent protests since May, and many protesters have vowed to continue their actions to support racial justice and oppose police brutality, regardless of who wins the election.
More than a dozen protests against Mr. Trump’s efforts to prevent vote counting were staged by Refuse Fascism. At the one in Seattle, a group of protesters shouted, “Every town, every town, Trump-Pence now,” and “count every vote.”
At the pro-Trump event in Phoenix, at least 150 people gathered outside the State Capitol before marching to the Maricopa County Registrar’s office.
“The only way Biden can win Arizona is by being cheated,” said Jim Williams, 67, a welder who attended the protest. “I won’t accept a victory from Biden. I don’t want to live under the communist regime.
Some in the crowd chanted “Down With Fox,” reflecting protesters ‘anger over Fox News’ decision on Tuesday to call Arizona for Mr Biden, a move that other news outlets later followed.
Mike Baker reported from Portland, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs from New York, and Simon romero from Phoenix. Reporting was contributed by Christiaan Triebert and Ed shanahan At New York, Kaitlin Gillespie in Portland, and Hallie Golden in Seattle.