Protesters marched through the streets of several American cities on Wednesday in response to President Donald Trump’s aggressive effort to challenge the vote count in Tuesday’s presidential election.
In Minneapolis, protesters blocked a freeway, prompting arrests. In Portland, hundreds gathered on the waterfront to protest the president’s attempted interventions in the vote count as a separate group protesting the police and urging racial justice surged through downtown, smashing shop windows and confronting police officers and National Guard troops.
In Phoenix, about 150 pro-Trump protesters, some of them armed, gathered outside the county recorder’s office where a closely watched count of votes that could help determine the outcome of the election was being conducted.
At several points, protesters contended that Adrian Fontes, the county official who oversees elections in Maricopa County, was improperly failing to count some ballots and costing Mr Trump votes in Arizona’s most populous county.
There was no evidence that any ballots had been improperly treated.
Keely Varvel, Mr Fontes’s chief deputy, said there were no plans to halt counting of the ballots because of the protest in front of the building.
Another group of pro-Trump poll watchers gathered earlier outside a ballot-counting center in Detroit, demanding that officials “stop the count” of ballots after the Trump campaign filed suit to halt the count in Michigan.
The president claimed early Wednesday that he had won the election long before key states had counted all their ballots. He spent much of the day asserting, without evidence, that people were trying to “steal” the election from him and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the many ballots sent through the mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Early on Thursday, Democratic candidate Joe Biden was only a handful of electoral votes from winning the election, and Mr Trump’s campaign was mounting an aggressive legal effort to challenge the tally, filing lawsuits in Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
In Minneapolis, several hundred protesters angered over the president’s declarations marched onto Interstate 94, prompting the police to clear the road.
In New York, protesters held a peaceful demonstration in Manhattan earlier on Wednesday calling for every vote to be counted and for racial equality, but hostile clashes between protesters and the police developed later on when protesters briefly shut down traffic in the West Village and officers pushed protesters to the sidewalks and arrested at least 20 people.
In Portland, Oregan, hundreds of people marched through downtown. “The Vote Is Over. The Fight Goes On,” one sign read. The crowd later stopped at a separate “Count Every Vote” rally along the waterfront, where speakers expressed fears that Mr Trump, who lost decisively in Oregon, was trying to sabotage the election and prevent votes from being counted in other states.
A portion of the crowd proceeded through downtown, where some people smashed windows. At that point, dozens of police officers began chasing the crowd through the streets and declared a riot.
The city has seen persistent protests since May, and many of the demonstrators have vowed to continue their actions to support racial justice and oppose police brutality no matter who wins the election.
More than a dozen protests against Mr Trump’s efforts to stop votes from being counted were organized by Refuse Fascism. At the one in Seattle, a group of protesters yelled, “Every city, every town, Trump-Pence out now,” and “Count every single vote.” – New York Times