Demonstrators burned American flags and marched through Portland, singing protest songs and carrying assault rifles, as tensions loomed over the election night, which nevertheless witnessed no violence in the northwestern city.
The liberal enclave in Oregon had braced for the possibility of armed clashes after months of divisive rallies involving left-wing activists, right-wing militias, and federal police deployed by the Trump administration.
As Donald Trump declared his election victory early Wednesday, although votes continued to win in a number of major states, activists gathered outside Portland Federal Court, the epicenter of summer anti-racism protests.
“We don’t like any of the candidates,” said one of the 20-year-old demonstrators, who declined to be named. “I voted shamefully for Biden, but if Trump gets another four years, people will go crazy,” while two American flags were being burned in front of the Building.
Many chanted in court anti-Trump slogans, as did Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, loathed by protesters protesting police practices, and was re-elected on Tuesday, while others danced and swayed to loud hip-hop music.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned of possible armed clashes in Portland linked to the elections, but there were no indications of election night activity by far-right groups such as the “Brow Boys.”
By the early hours of Wednesday, the police had yet to come across the protesters, some of whom had earlier participated in a peaceful 400-person march organized by the Black Lives Mission around East Portland.
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The march, which lasted for three hours, was led by a procession, in which at least six protesters were armed with assault rifles and knives. The participants transmitted rumors and news about the election results.
Tay Ford, a 20-year-old protest march leader, said, “I heard Trump is leading the count now … There will be riots. When it comes out, it will be crazy.”
“It’s like choosing between two evils, but honestly, Biden can be tolerated,” said a colleague named Dee Dee, 22.
The protesters’ demands ranged from the abolition of the immigration and customs decree to justice for the black victims who were killed at the hands of the police, including George Floyd and Briona Taylor before the march ended with the words “Hallelujah”.
There were also moments of jubilation when protest leaders invited those watching the march from the windows of their apartments to join them.
One of the activists shouted: “Hey, let’s see you from the window, tell us how the elections are going – then put on your shoes and come help us launch a revolution.”