Protesters crying foul over vote counts stir safety concerns

Elections

Trump supporters protest against the election results outside the central counting board at the TCF Center in Detroit, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(AP) — Protesters crying foul over the vote-counting rallied outside tabulation centers in Phoenix and Detroit on Friday, responding to groundless claims by President Donald Trump that the Democrats were trying to steal the White House.

The protests came as elections officials in several states where Democrat Joe Biden was ahead said the anger vented outside their doors made them worried about the safety of their workers.

Roughly 200 Trump supporters gathered for a third straight day in front of the elections center in Phoenix, where hundreds of workers were processing and counting ballots.

“Arrest the poll workers!” the crowd chanted, demanding four more years in office for Trump. Sheriff’s deputies kept protesters in a “free speech” zone away from the entrance to the building.

“When we start auditing some of these voter rolls, their fraud may actually be exposed,” conservative activist Charlie Kirk told the crowd, eliciting cheers.

In Detroit, dozens of Trump supporters returned to the streets outside the city’s convention center, where election workers counted ballots.

“Stop the steal!” the protesters chanted. Some carried signs that read, “Make Elections Fair Again” and “We Love Trump.” Police cordoned off streets leading to the building and maintained a close watch on the protest.

The county treasurer in Detroit, Eric Sabree, said he had closed his office because of threats. In a statement, Sabree said the decision was made “in the interest of the safety of taxpayers and our staff” and because of “credible information” from the sheriff’s office.

In Philadelphia, two men with handguns were arrested Thursday night near the convention center where the vote-counting that could decide the White House race was going on.

The men, ages 42 and 61, traveled to the city from Virginia in a Hummer and did not have permits to carry the weapons in Pennsylvania, police said. A military-style rifle without a serial number was found inside their vehicle along with ammunition, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.

District Attorney Larry Krasner did not say why the men had come to Philadelphia but said there were no indications they were part of an extremist group. He would not identify them.

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AP reporters Suman Naishadham and Astrid Galvan in Phoenix, Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia, Mike Householder in Detroit and Sudhin Thanawala in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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