Following the presidential election on Tuesday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of the United States. The steady results and allegations of electoral fraud have incited voters in several US cities.
Videos from demonstrations testify to some violent clashes, and CNN reports that several of the protesters are armed. On Thursday night, the National Guard assisted the police in disbanding a riot in Portland.
According to USA Today, however, more than 100 organized demonstrations are planned in the days leading up to the weekend.
There are many indications that the demonstrators are mostly Trump supporters, says Tore Wig, professor at the Department of Political Science at UiO. Many of the protesters belong to militia groups, according to Wig.
“It’s not just ordinary Trump supporters, they are more radical,” he told Dagbladet.
Hypocrisy of another world
The Trump campaign’s official Twitter account wrote on Wednesday that Democrats are trying to steal the election, asking voters to defend the election and fight back.
– The president asks his most loyal voters like you to fight back, the campaign wrote.
During the night until Wednesday, voters will also have received a number of emails from the Trump campaign asking people to defend the election.
In Pennsylvania, Trump voters are demonstrating and demanding that the count be stopped. In Arizona, the opposite is true. Joe Biden is now just over 2.4 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump in Arizona. Trump has brought in parts of the lead in the state’s largest county, Maricop.
– There, his supporters demand that all the advance votes must be counted. This is a hypocrisy of a completely different world, says US expert Eirik Løkke, advisor at Civita.
He believes that the most important thing now is that those who work to count the votes are allowed to work without disturbances or, in the extreme, what are perceived as threats of the use of violence.
In line with what Trump wants
In several places, however, demonstrations are reported outside the polling stations. In Detroit, a large group of Trump supporters gathered outside a polling station.
The protesters shouted slogans such as “stop the count”, writes The Hill. According to Forbes, the protesters demanded to be let into the premises, while according to Insider, clashes broke out between protesters and police outside the building.
– The demonstrations are exactly in line with what Trump wants, which is to incite supporters and then doubt the election result, says Tore Wig.
He does not rule out that the demonstrations may lead to chaos.
“It depends on how much violence is used, whether someone manages to provoke the other party to strike back and what public authorities do in the states where it happens,” he says.
Stopped fine counting
Now several experts, including in The Guardian, fear that today’s protesters have the same tactics as Brooks Brothers Riot had 20 years ago.
During the famous presidential election in 2000 – when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush after 30 days of fine counting in Florida and ever new rounds in the courtrooms – several Republican protesters demanded that the counting of votes be stopped.
The protesters, many of whom were paid by Republican campaign operators, succeeded. A fine-tuning of Florida ballots was halted, and George W. Bush finally became president after a Supreme Court decision.
“I fear that this time there may be a new Brooks Brothers uprising without a suit, with people wearing AR-15s,” Sherrilyn Ifill, director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a civil rights organization and law firm, told the Financial Times on Sunday.
Professor of political science Jennifer Leigh Bailey at NTNU points out that the details of the demonstrations are not the same today, but that there are similarities to Brooks Brothers Riot.
– People surround the authorities. In 2000, it was the recount that mattered. Now it’s the original count. Those who are outside the polling stations now want to stop the count. It is fundamentally wrong in a democracy. “Now my candidate has received enough votes, so now we will stop,” she says.
The votes that are counted last are those that came through the mail, and which Trump wants to take to the Supreme Court.
“It is these voices that the protesters insist should not be counted,” said Leigh Bailey.
Tore Wig also sees few similarities between the demonstrators today and in 2000, and believes that they do not have the same tactics.
– It does not seem like that now, then they must have done this a little earlier. In Michigan it is too late, now it is more about symbolizing, he says.
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