Dozens of supporters of President Donald Trump chanting “Stop the count!” descended on a vote-tallying center in Detroit on Wednesday, as Americans on both sides of the political divide vented their anger and frustration over the undecided presidential contest at scattered protests around the country.
The Detroit protests started shortly before The Associated Press declared that former Vice President Joe Biden had won Michigan.
Videos 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 counting area. They chanted “Stop the count!” and “Stop the vote!”
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Earlier, the Republican campaign filed a suit in a bid to stop the count, demanding Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state allow in more inspectors. Trump has repeatedly insisted without evidence that there are major problems with the voting and the counting.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, insisted both parties and the public had been given access to the tallying “using a robust system of checks and balances to ensure that all ballots are counted fairly and accurately.”
Counting the vote in Arizona
Later on Wednesday, around 200 people flying Trump flags gathered in front of the Maricopa County elections center in Arizona.
In a situation that many likened to an episode of the successful satirical series Veep, they shouted 'Count the vote!' as rumor spread on social media that the elections board had refused to tally votes because they had been filled with permanent marker.
The count was halted while the protest went on, with armed police guarding the gates of the election center. As the vote count progressed in Maricopa, it seemed to confirm the prediction that Arizona, with its eleven electors, would go to Joe Biden.
Maricopa County had already issued a clarification earlier in the day that the use of sharpie pens did not invalidate the ballot. Authorities urged people to be patient, saying that "an accurate vote takes time."
"It's possible the results you see now may change after all the votes are counted," a letter from the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said. "This is evidence of democracy, not fraud."
Keeping an eye on militias
On Tuesday night, scattered protests broke after voting ended, stretching from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, but there was no widespread unrest or significant violence. Though activists demanding that vote counts proceed unimpeded rallied in several cities, including Oakland, California; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Atlanta; Detroit and New York City.
Anti-Trump demonstrations were also set for Wednesday evening, with protesters gathering in Houston, Minneapolis and other cities.
The Protect the Results coalition, encompassing over 130 groups from Planned Parenthood to Republicans for the Rule of Law, had said it was organizing a day of mass protests in about 500 cities nationwide. But late in the day, those plans were put on hold to allow time for a possible outcome to be determined.
U.S. officials said they have kept a wary eye on right-wing militias, worried that Trump's allegations of ballot fraud could bring heavily armed groups out onto the streets. So far, they appeared to be keeping a low profile.
Enrique Tarrio, leader of the far-right men's group Proud Boys, said he was slashed and three others stabbed early on Wednesday blocks away from the White House. One of his alleged assailants wore a "Black Lives Matter" mask, he told Reuters.
Local police said they made no arrests in the incident and could not confirm the affiliation. The Washington chapter of the anti-racism movement said on Twitter it had nothing to do with the alleged attack.