WASHINGTON — Protesters clashed outside of the White House and in other cities throughout Election night and Wednesday morning, with emotions flaring and dozens of arrests reported.
Dozens marched through streets in Los Angeles and crowds of 200 or more were in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon. Minnesota saw more than a dozen arrests.
Tempers flared as the evening wore on, with President Trump perhaps adding fuel to the fire by making a statement that he thinks the election is rigged. He made the comment while Biden held a slight lede in the race but with several key states remaining to be counted.
“This is fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country . .. . Frankly, we did win the election,” Trump said. It’s unclear whether his comment caused protests to escalate.
The Washington, D.C., protest, despite a mostly peaceful atmosphere, had pockets of confrontation as the night wore on. Pushing and shoving between protesters could be seen, and police in the area sought to disperse the crowd, with smoke filling the air from an unidentified source.
CBS News reporter Christina Ruffini shared a video of what she called “some sort of smoke bomb” being used at the protest and said people were “just fighting.” Scuffles at the scene were broken up quickly.
Other reports of confrontation surfaced Tuesday. A man wearing a shirt supporting incumbent President Donald Trump challenged a protester to a fight in a situation that was diffused by police, according to the New York Times.
The outlet also reported a man was hit with a bat after he shouted “all lives matter” and a protester who was chanting “Black lives matter.” Bystanders broke up that confrontation, The New York Times reported.
A D.C. Metropolitan Police Department spokesman said so far, one arrest had been made as of just before 10 p.m. An adult male was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, crossing a police line and resisting arrest.
Shortly before midnight, dozens of black-clad protesters began marching west from Black Lives Matter Plaza, using megaphones to chant: “Black lives matter!” A handful of fireworks went off as they marched.
Bloomberg reported the protesters unfurled a large black banner with the words “Remove Trump” in white all-caps letters.
The Los Angeles Police Department early Tuesday had called a “citywide tactical alert” to ensure enough officers are on hand to address any incidents on Election Day.” Shortly after 8 p.m. local time, the department announced it was attempting to disperse a “large and unruly crowd.”
Several dozen protesters faced off against officers in riot gear. They had been among about 100 demonstrators who marched Pershing Square, then to Staples Center to a light-rail station a few blocks away where officers formed a skirmish line. Several arrests were reported.
In Chicago, one of the bridges near downtown’s Trump Tower had been lifted over the Chicago River—a common sight in recent months amid incidents of looting or unrest in the city. The move has been used to restrict access to downtown.
Video of the Illinois National Guard pulling into the city’s downtown McCormick Place Convention Center circulated on social media Monday night, sparking concern among some. Tuesday morning, the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications said in a statement that the personnel were stationed in Chicago “to be ready to respond if needed” but that there were “no plans for them to be deployed.”
Several protests were planned in neighborhoods throughout the city for Wednesday night.
In Graham, North Carolina, where police cracked down on a peaceful demonstration, another march took place Tuesday. This one, which included hundreds, concluded without response from police, according to the Burlington Times-News, part of the USA TODAY Network.
About 200 protesters marched through the North Carolina capitol of Raleigh, WRAL-TV reported. The TV station added arrests were made after protesters threw fireworks and other items at police. The protest was declared unlawful and was broken up around 10 p.m., the outlet reported.
In Minneapolis, police arrested several demonstrators from among about 30 who had gathered in the city’s uptown, WCCO-TV reported.
Hundreds marched through Portland and Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday, two cities that have seen ongoing protests.
In Portland, demonstrators chanted “This is what democracy looks like” and some were seen openly carrying guns. The National Guard was on standby.
Two groups marched through Seattle with one carrying American flags and chanting “Black lives matter.
Left-leaning demonstrators planned Election Day protests for weeks.
Some protesters are already gearing up for a longer, more sustained pushback. Organizers at ShutDownDC plan for more aggressive actions as the week goes on depending on the outcome of the election, such as if President Donald Trump were to win reelection or to question the election outcome.
Trump has said he would likely take legal action if he believes Tuesday’s election is conducted unfairly, especially in battleground Pennsylvania.
Trump did deny a report in the news outlet Axios that he planned to declare victory if he is ahead in Pennsylvania and enough other states on Election Day, even if mail-in ballots were still being counted. But he also said it would be unfair for Pennsylvania and other states to count ballots after Tuesday, as they plan to do. At least five counties in Pennsylvania have announced they will not be counting absentee and mail-in ballots until the day after Election Day.
Expecting a drawn-out battle, ShutDownDC organizers have plans to “disrupt business as usual for some of the institutions that are most complicit in Trump’s attack on Democracy.” And on Thursday, they plan to host a caravan of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Organizers of the Women’s March have called for people to hold demonstrations around the country on election night in which participants “shine a light on the process” by holding lanterns, flashlights, and candles, Vox reported.
In Philadelphia, which has seen multiple days of unrest over the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., dozens of progressive organizations are planning “mass action” in the event of voter intimidation or mail-in ballot invalidation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
More than 520 events have been organized nationwide by Protect the Results on Nov. 4 and beyond if Trump either declares victory before all votes are counted or refuses to accept election results. Protect the Results is a coalition of more than 165 grassroots organizations, advocacy groups and labor unions led by activist groups Indivisible and Stand Up America.
Contributing: Chris Quintana,Harrison Hill, David Jackson, Grace Hauck, Courtney Subramanian, Chris Woodyard and Joey Garrison, USA TODAY; Dean-Paul Stephens and Adam Smith, Times-News; Associated Press