Photo: Paula Bronstein, AP
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Protesters took to the streets in Portland, Oregon and in Seattle on Wednesday demanding that every vote in Tuesday’s election be counted. Hundreds of people were protesting in both cities against President Donald Trump’s court challenges to stop the vote count in battleground states.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday she will keep state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and police officers under a unified command for an additional 48 hours in Portland to handle protests amid uncertainty over the winner of the U.S. presidential election.
Brown extended her executive order establishing the unified command until 5 p.m. Friday. The Oregon National Guard is also still on standby. Brown’s order places law enforcement agencies under the joint command of the Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department, which allows those agencies to use tear gas if necessary to quell unrest.
Portland has been roiled by five months of near-nightly racial injustice protests since the police killing of George Floyd, and several hundred people marched in the city on Tuesday. Law enforcement made no arrests and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office thanked demonstrators for remaining peaceful.
Portland demonstrators on Wednesday held signs saying, “Count Every Vote,” and “Keeping Hope Alive.” Suzanne Thornton, 79, said she was motivated to attend a protest for the first time because of Trump’s court challenges.
“Our president seems to be making such a big deal about it and we need to clarify what the vote count is for. He doesn’t seem to get it,“ Thornton said. “I don’t have a lot of patience with him because he is such a baby and I don’t see how so many people in this country see him as a leader.“
Gerry Foote, a 69-year-old former high school teacher, turned out to protest waving a sign that read “Teacher against tyranny. No hate.” Foote, who protested against the Vietnam War as a college student, said it was critical to prevent Trump from stopping the vote count.
Protesters in Seattle said they are also trying to make sure the Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice causes remain in the spotlight. Some carried signs saying, “Stop Trump’s Racist Voter Suppression,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Don’t Steal the Election.”
The presidential race between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump remains too close to call, with votes still being counted.
“It’s important to trust the process, and the system that has ensured free and fair elections in this country through the decades, even in times of great crisis,” Brown said in a statement. “We are all in this together––so let’s work together to keep our fellow Oregonians safe.”
Richard March said Trump’s move to challenge vote counts motivated him to come to a Portland rally despite a heart condition that makes him vulnerable to COVID-19. “To cast doubt on this election has terrible consequences for our democracy,” he said. “I think we are a very polarized society now — and I’m worried about what’s going to come in the next days and weeks and months.”
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