Trump supporters turn rowdy in protests

Mimi Dwyer and Gabriella Borter
·3-min read

Backers of President Donald Trump have ramped up demonstrations against an election they believe is being rigged or stolen, in some cases bringing guns or clashing with counter-protesters as they rally in battleground states.

In Arizona, one of five US battlegrounds where votes are still being counted in the too-close-to-call race between Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Trump supporters massed outside the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix.

Some briefly chased a man who held up a sign depicting the president as a Nazi pig behind a stage where right-wing talk-radio host Alex Jones was speaking.

Police intervened and broke up the altercation after the man and his small group of counter-demonstrators were surrounded by Trump activists, according to a Reuters witness. There were no reports of injuries.

"They are trying to steal the election but America knows what happened and it's fighting back," Jones told the throng of some 300 people.

"1776 is the answer to 1984," he said, an apparent reference to the US Declaration of Independence and the dystopian George Orwell novel.

In Milwaukee, some 50 Trump supporters gathered in front of a city building where votes were being counted, blasting country music, waving flags and carrying signs reading "Recount" and "Rigged".

Roughly a dozen counter-protesters arrived after an hour, shouting "Black lives matter" and "say their names," referring to the victims of police brutality. Others threw eggs at the Trump supporters from a passing car.

"My country's future is what brings me out here tonight," said Mitchell Landgraf, a 21-year-old construction worker who cast his first vote in a presidential election for Trump.

"I'm afraid if it goes one way that this country will go downhill fast."

Trump's campaign has called for a recount in Wisconsin, where news organisations have pronounced Biden the winner by a razor-thin margin.

Protests have been scattered, small and largely peaceful since Americans went to the polls on Tuesday.

Biden supporters have adopted the slogan "count every vote," saying a complete and accurate tabulation in the remaining battleground states would show the former vice president had won the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

Both sides held rallies in Philadelphia on Thursday, where election staffers slowly counted thousands of mail-in ballots that could award Biden or Trump Pennsylvania's crucial 20 Electoral College votes.

Trump activists waved flags and carried signs saying: "Vote stops on Election Day" and "Sorry, polls are closed" as Biden supporters danced to music behind a barricade across the street.

"We can't allow the ballot counters to be intimidated," said retired social worker Bob Posuney, a 70-year-old Biden supporter wearing a "count every vote" T-shirt.

In Harrisburg, about 100 Trump supporters gathered on the steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building on Thursday afternoon as part of a "Stop the Steal" demonstration.

At least 400 protesters gathered outside the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas. Biden has a lead of just over 11,000 votes in Nevada as counting continued.