As votes were being counted in battleground states, protesters supporting both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden took to streets and election buildings across America to protest on Wednesday night and into Thursday.
Some demonstrations remained peaceful, while others erupted in violence.
In Portland, Oregon, which has been a scene of regular protests for months, Gov. Kate Brown called out the National Guard as demonstrators engaged in what authorities said was widespread violence downtown, including smashing windows. In addition to the counting of the vote, the protesters were demonstrating about police brutality and racial equality.
“It’s important to trust the process, and the system that has ensured free and fair elections in this country through the decades, even in times of great crisis,” Brown said in a statement. “We are all in this together.”
Richard March came to an anti-Trump demonstration in Portland despite a heart condition that makes him vulnerable to COVID-19.
“To cast doubt on this election has terrible consequences for our democracy,” he said. “I think we are a very polarized society now — and I’m worried about what’s going to come in the next days and weeks and months.”
In New York City, 56 people were arrested Wednesday night following skirmishes between police and protesters. Police said more than 20 of the arrests were people who allegedly "attempted to hijack a peaceful protest by lighting fires, throwing garbage and eggs in Manhattan.”
The most serious charge — assault in the second degree — was filed against a 23-year-old woman who is accused of punching a police chief in the face, authorities said.
Protesters who spoke to NY1, however, accused police of being the aggressors.
The future of the White House was still in limbo early Thursday afternoon, as razor-thin margins separated Trump and Biden in the key states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada.
Trump prematurely declared victory early Wednesday morning while he was leading in most battleground states, despite large numbers of votes not yet having been counted. As tallies trickled in Wednesday, Trump saw Wisconsin and Michigan — two states where he had previously been ahead — get called for Biden. Meanwhile, the president’s lead in Georgia and Pennsylvania has continued to erode, as mail-in voting, which tends to skew toward the Democratic candidate, were counted.
Trump has, without evidence, blamed his shrinking lead in those states on fraud and corruption while his campaign has waged legal battles to stop votes received after Tuesday from being counted.
Dozens of angry Trump supporters converged on vote-counting centers in Detroit and Phoenix.
“Stop the count!” they chanted in Detroit. “Stop the steal!” they said in Phoenix.
The confrontation in Detroit started shortly before The Associated Press declared that Biden had won Michigan.
Video shot by local media showed angry people gathered outside the TCF Center and inside the lobby, with police officers lined up to keep them from entering the vote-counting area. They chanted, “Stop the count!” and “Stop the vote!”
Wearing Trump gear, the Phoenix protesters, some of them reportedly armed, filled much of the parking lot at the Maricopa County election center, and members of the crowd chanted, “Fox News sucks!” in anger over the network declaring Biden the winner in Arizona.
Arizona is the only battleground state where votes being counted Wednesday and Thursday helped him gain ground.
Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican and staunch Trump supporter, joined the crowd, declaring: “We’re not going to let this election be stolen. Period.”
However, observers from both major political parties were inside the election center as ballots were processed and counted, and the procedure was live-streamed online at all times.
Several sheriff’s deputies blocked the entrance to the building. And the vote-counting went on into the night, Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson said.
The Daily Mail reported that the counting center had to be locked with staff inside after one protester got inside. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies escorted election workers to their vehicles as they headed home, The Arizona Republic reported.
Two top county officials — one a Democrat, the other a Republican — issued a statement expressing concern about how misinformation had spread about the integrity of the election process.
“Everyone should want all the votes to be counted, whether they were mailed or cast in person,” said the statement signed by Clint Hickman, the GOP chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and Democratic Supervisor Steve Gallardo. “An accurate vote takes time. ... This is evidence of democracy, not fraud.”
Outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Thursday, protesters from both sides converged, with the president's supporters chanting "Four more years!" while Biden supporters shouted "Count every vote!" CBS Philly reported that the scene was peaceful but there was a large police presence and barricades were largely keeping the two crowds apart.
In Minneapolis, several hundred protesters blocked Interstate 94, leading to arrests, according to reports.
And in Seattle, authorities arrested seven people on protest-related charges, including one who was taken to a hospital after “experiencing a medical episode,” police said in a statement early Thursday.
Police said it was unclear whether the person’s medical issue was related to the arrest. The person was initially hospitalized in critical condition but later upgraded to serous condition, Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said Thursday morning.