PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police in Seattle and Portland, Oregon arrested more than a dozen people as hundreds took to the streets to demand a full count of all presidential election votes and a halt to President Donald Trump’s court challenges to stop counts in some key battleground states, officials said.
Seven people were arrested on Capitol Hill in Seattle and one person who was being arrested for allegedly damaging property was taken to a hospital after “experiencing a medical episode,” police said in a statement early Thursday. Others were arrested on suspicion of obstruction, pedestrian interference, property damage, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.
Police said it was unclear whether the person’s medical issue was related to the arrest. The person was initially hospitalized in critical condition but later upgraded to seirous condition, Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said Thursday morning.
In Portland, protesters smashed windows at businesses, hurled objects including fireworks at officers and police made at least 10 arrests, according to a statement from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers seized multiple firearms, ammunition, a knife, fireworks, body armor and gas masks from people who were arrested, a sheriff’s office statement said.
One of the people who was arrested had a rifle with a magazine of ammunition, fireworks, a knife and was wearing a ballistics vest, the sheriff’s office said.
Gov. Kate Brown had activated the use of the state National Guard to help local law enforcement manage unrest related to the election, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said.
Brown said previously she would keep state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and police officers under a unified command into Friday in Portland to handle protests amid uncertainty over the the U.S. presidential election outcome.
The Oregon National Guard had been on standby before the election. Brown’s order put 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 Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the city’s police commissioner, banned the use of tear gas by Portland police earlier this fall after concerns about an overly aggressive response to the 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 Election Day. Law enforcement made no arrests that day and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office thanked demonstrators for remaining peaceful.
On Wednesday, demonstrators in Portland 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, waved 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.”
On Thursday, Democrat Joe Biden was pushing closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House after securing victories in the battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan and narrowing President Donald Trump’s path.
Brown said in a statement that “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.”
She added: “We are all in this together — so let’s work together to keep our fellow Oregonians safe.”
Bellisle reported from Issaquah, Washington. Associated Press writer Lisa Baumann contributed from Bellingham, Washington.
This version corrects that fireworks, not a Molotov cocktail, were thrown at officers in Portland and that one person was arrested with fireworks, not an improvised explosive device.