Supporters of President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden faced off in largely peaceful demonstrations Thursday and early Friday in battleground states, where votes in the U.S. presidential election were still being counted.
Both sides were energized by Trump's aggressive challenge to the vote-counting process, which has shown Biden slowly building an Electoral College lead over Trump.
In the closely contested state of Arizona, backers of the two candidates scuffled briefly Thursday outside the Maricopa County Elections Department in the city of Phoenix. The fracas occurred after several heavily armed right-wing groups gathered at the site while election workers were counting ballots inside.
Protesters repeatedly accused Maricopa County election chief Adrian Fontes of failing to count some ballots and thus denying Trump much-needed votes, although there was no evidence of improper vote counting.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the scene was less confrontational, as demonstrators from both sides were separated by barriers under a heavy police presence. City police said they arrested a man and seized a weapon Thursday night as part of an investigation into suspected plans to attack the city’s convention center where votes were being tallied.
With the future of the U.S. presidency still in doubt, tense encounters also unfolded in swing-state cities such as Atlanta, Georgia; Detroit, Michigan; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Demonstrators were in the streets of New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago, some of them continuing protests over police brutality and racial injustice in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody six months ago.
Several hundred protesters upset over Trump’s efforts to limit vote counting marched onto Interstate 94 on Thursday in Minneapolis, creating massive traffic jams.
The dueling demonstrations across the country continued into Thursday night after Trump claimed at the White House without offering evidence that Democrats were trying to “steal” the election.
Local election officials throughout the U.S. continued to count ballots days after the November 3 election because an unprecedented number of people voted by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Those ballots, which have tended to favor Biden, take longer to verify and count.