US cities are preparing for further protests, with the election result...

US cities are preparing for further protests, with the election result...
US cities are preparing for further protests, with the election result...

Authorities in the US are preparing for further protests after demonstrators took to the streets in numerous cities Wednesday night after Donald called for votes to be stopped in critical swing states that could determine the outcome of the presidential election.

Demonstrations of various sizes took place in cities such as Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington, DC. Some protesters called for additional votes to be stopped while others urged authorities to keep counting ballots.

Mr Trump has made unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud in some states where votes are still being counted.

Extremism experts have spent weeks drawing attention to the risk of electoral violence, highlighting the recent surge in extremist groups, online campaigning, political polarization, high-stakes elections, and the impact of the duel of rival protests in the summer after the assassination of George Floyd, some of which became violent.

Tensions have increased as the number of votes subsides on days after the polls close on Tuesday evening. Incidents on Wednesday night included an attempt by a group of pro-Trump armed protesters to disrupt operations at a polling center in Arizona that is still counting votes.

The county sheriff’s MPs blocked access to the Maricopa County Electoral Office in Phoenix when a group of about 75 people gathered outside the building Wednesday night, some of whom were armed and many carried signs supporting the U.S. President.

An Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, who previously alleged electoral irregularities, also attended the protest. He tweeted, “We haven’t gotten this far and fought so hard to have our election stolen from us.”

The AZ Patriots, who call themselves an activist “Maga” group – named after Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” – posted a video of the Phoenix incident on their page and said, “We’re not lying down take it … We’re fighting for Arizona! It added that the situation became “hostile” after AZ Patriots appeared to protest asking for access to the polling center.

Local sheriff MPs cordoned the facility to ensure operations continued, and county election officials vowed to continue the count.

“Acts of violence, threatening behavior or criminal property damage will not be tolerated,” said Maricopa Sheriff Paul Penzone in a statement after the incident.

Damage reports

A small crowd of Trump supporters also protested in areas where votes were cast in Detroit. The Associated Press called on Michigan state to face Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Portland police arrested 11 people after 300 anti-Trump protesters gathered in the city of Oregon overnight, with some reports of damage. Oregon Democratic Governor Kate Brown extended Portland’s state of emergency to November 6, while the Oregon National Guard deployed 46 soldiers to assist local law enforcement.

Stand Up America, a nationwide coalition of grassroots activists seeking to oust Mr. Trump, has suspended previously planned nationwide protests to “protect the results.” But hundreds of local events have taken place, and organizers said the national coalition would remain ready to mobilize if Mr Trump wanted to undermine the results. More local events were expected in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Some riots have been organized through social media platforms, with companies like Facebook taking center stage despite their pledges to crack down on violent content.

Via a 79,000-strong private Facebook group called Stand Up Michigan to unblock Michigan and a related site, pro-Trump protesters were urged to attend a polling station in Detroit late Tuesday.

Civil war

Facebook said it removed the group and page “based on the potential risk of offline harm” – but only after the event occurred and the call to action was reported by NBC News.

A Facebook group called “Stop the Steal” had hundreds of thousands of members by Thursday afternoon, and some users were calling for civil war and riot. Others urged people to “get our guns” and take to the streets over unsubstantiated claims of alleged election fraud committed by Democrats.

The group was later weeded by Facebook, which said the action was in line with the extraordinary measures we are taking during this time of heightened tension. The move was the first known use of these measures in the 2020 elections.

“The group aimed to delegitimize the electoral process and we saw worrying calls from some members of the group about violence,” said a Facebook spokesman.

In contrast to the so-called Brooks Brothers riots that tried to end a recount during the Florida election crisis in 2000, there is no coordination between pro-Trump protesters and the Republican National Committee, said Joe Lowndes, a professor at the University of Oregon studying right-wing violence .

Without the RNC’s instruction “You have no critical mass” in protests, but warned that there could be “more madness” in the coming days. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020

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