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Portland police declare 'riot' on night after US vote, arrests made in New York and other cities

Police in the city of Portland made arrests and seized fireworks, hammers and a rifle after late night demonstrations, as Oregon Governor Kate Brown activated the state's National Guard in response to "widespread violence" on the night after voting in the U.S. presidential election.

Portland police declare 'riot' on night after US vote, arrests made in New York and other cities

A handful of protesters burn the American flag outside a Portland Courthouse. (AFP/Ankur Dholakia)

PORTLAND: Police in Portland declared riots, arrested 11 people and seized fireworks, hammers and a rifle after demonstrations on Wednesday (Nov 4), the night after voting in the US presidential election.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown activated the National Guard in response to the protests.

In New York, police said they made about 50 arrests in protests that spread in the city late on Wednesday. 

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Demonstrations, mostly small and peaceful, were held in cities across the United States by supporters of Democratic nominee Joe Biden. 

President Donald Trump had claimed victory and called for a halt to the counting of ballots in states that will determine the outcome of Tuesday's election. Biden has said he believes he is on course to win once the votes are counted.

Four arrests were made in Denver as protesters clashed with police, the Denver Police Department said. Arrests were also made during demonstrations in Minneapolis after protesters blocked traffic, local police there said.

Activists also staged rallies in Atlanta, Detroit and Oakland demanding that vote counts proceed unimpeded.

In Portland, a heavy law enforcement presence flooded the streets after a handful of demonstrators broke off from hundreds-strong anti-Trump protests to shatter storefront windows, and a man believed to have thrown a molotov cocktail was arrested.

The Multnomah County sheriff's office cited "widespread violence" in the city's downtown area, including glass bottles thrown at police who advanced on demonstrators.

An AFP journalist at the scene witnessed two arrests during a skirmish on a street corner that left protester Michael Ream with a bloodied face.

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"It's the same thing it always is - just horrible conduct of the police force and the terrible legacy that they carry every day," the 38-year-old PhD student told AFP as police handcuffed him.

Asked whether this week's contested election had brought him to the streets, he replied: "More or less. I mean, I haven't been out (protesting) in a while."

Portland has seen months of clashes between police and demonstrators, angered at the repeated killings of black Americans by law enforcement officers across the country.

The protesters involved in Wednesday's clashes had earlier attended a 300-strong peaceful rally in a downtown park hosted by a coalition of anti-capitalist groups featuring lectures, music and slogans including "The Vote is Over. The Fight Goes On."

Rally organiser Evan Burchfield told AFP the city had been using the police as a "tool of political repression" for years and that "nothing is actually going to change" if Joe Biden is elected.

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Policemen are seen following a protest march the day after Election Day in Manhattan, New York City, New York, US, Nov 4, 2020. (REUTERS/Michelle Nichols)

Another group of protesters who had gathered by Portland's river on Wednesday vowed to "protect the results" of Tuesday's close-run election and held banners proclaiming "Count Every Vote."

"We want Trump out of office, that's the main focus," one rally leader told the crowd, to loud cheers.

All of the gatherings that were declared riots were in downtown areas, a Portland Police spokesman told Reuters in an emailed statement. "There have been 11 arrests tonight and we have not received any reports of injuries."

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Local partners of Protect the Results - a coalition of more than 165 grassroots organisations, advocacy groups and labor unions - have organised over 100 events planned across the country between Wednesday and Saturday.

Heading into the Nov 3 elections, the United States had seen months of protests following the death in May of George Floyd, an African-American who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The protests once again picked up momentum following the police shooting later in the year of an African-American named Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin and more recently of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr who was gunned down by two officers in Philadelphia.

Source: AGENCIES/kv

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