By Anita Snow, David Goldman and Lisa Marie Pane, The Associated Press
Chanting “This isn’t over! and “Stop the steal,” supporters of President Donald Trump protested at state capitals across the country Saturday, refusing to accept defeat and echoing Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations that the Democrats won the election by fraud.
From Atlanta and Tallahassee to Bismarck, Boise and Phoenix, crowds ranging in size from a few dozen to a few thousand decried the news of Joe Biden’s victory after more than three exhausting days of vote-counting put the Democrat over the top. Skirmishes broke out in some places.
In Atlanta, outside the state Capitol in the longtime Republican stronghold of Georgia, chants of “Lock him up!” rang out among an estimated 1,000 Trump supporters. Others chanted, “This isn’t over! This isn’t over!” and “Fake news!” The streets were awash with American flags and Trump banners.
No immediate violence was reported, though at one point, police moved to separate Trump opponents from supporters. Biden held a slim lead in Georgia, which hasn’t gone for a Democrat since 1992.
Jordan Kelley, a 29-year-old from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, drove three-plus hours to Atlanta to attend the pro-Trump rally.
“There’s election fraud going on here,” said Kelley, claiming that voters in Georgia, a state with a GOP governor and secretary of state, had improperly counted the ballots to put Biden ahead. “Even though I live in Tennessee, I’m an American, and I want to make sure Americans have a voice in the election.”
He planned to make the 10-hour trip to Washington next week to demonstrate on the steps of the Supreme Court, where Trump and his lawyers have vowed to eventually make his case.
Underscoring the hard feelings on both sides of the nation’s deep political divide, anti-Trump protesters in Washington booed, yelled profanities, shouted “Loser! Loser!” and gave the finger to Trump’s motorcade as the president returned to the White House from a golf outing Saturday.
Contrary to the claims of Trump supporters, there has been no evidence of any serious vote fraud. And some Republican elected officials around the country began to distance themselves from Trump and urge him to accept the outcome gracefully.
A couple of thousand Trump supporters gathered at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg with American flags, Trump flags and “Stop the Steal” signs.
“If we don’t stop this today, it’ll all be over,” Bruce Fields, 66, said of news organizations declaring Biden the winner. “Otherwise we can kiss freedom goodbye.”
About two dozen heavily armed men, some wearing camouflage, joined the rally.
At the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix, a crowd swelled to more than 1,000 within hours. Biden won Arizona on his way to victory in the Electoral College.
“It’s very suspicious that President Trump, with the red wave we’ve been seeing in Arizona, is struggling,” Kelli Ward, former state senator and chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, told a boisterous pro-Trump demonstrators. “I want to know if there is any discrepancy with the numbers coming out of the machines.”
Even in a place that wasn’t close, Trump supporters gathered in droves to express support for him and vent frustration at the outcome of the election. Outside of North Dakota’s Capitol in Bismarck, the state’s all-Republican congressional delegation joined protesters carrying pro-Trump signs and banners and chanting, “Four more years!” and “Stop the steal!”
A few skirmishes broke out between Trump backers and a few pro-Biden and Black Lives Matters demonstrators, with one BLM supporter attempting to handcuff himself to a Trump supporter. The two men began wrestling on the ground.
An officer escorted the Black Lives Matter supporter to a squad car. It was unclear if he had been arrested.
In Lansing, Michigan, about 50 Trump supporters and a smaller group of marchers carrying Black Lives Matter flags converged on the state Capitol, where they pushed, shoved and shouted at one another in a tense standoff. But within moments of the race being called, a few from both sides broke into prayer, and at least one pair hugged.
Tensions flared again when more Trump supporters arrived on the scene. BLM members retreated through the growing crowd.
Frank Dobbs, 40, of Henderson, Nevada, brought a bullhorn and a blue Trump 2020 flag that he wrestled with in a stiff wind during a rally outside the Clark County registrar of voters office in North Las Vegas.
“It’s not over until it’s over. There’s still the courts. If ever there’s ever a time to expose widespread fraud, this is the president to do it,” Dobbs said. “The media doesn’t decide who wins the presidency. The legal voters of this country decide.”
AP journalists Jocelyn Noveck in New York City and Anna Liz Nichols in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report. Goldman reported from Lansing, Mich., and Snow contributed from Phoenix.
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