Thousands rally behind Trump, insisting he won race he lost

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Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at Freedom Plaza on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

WASHINGTON – Fervent supporters of President Donald Trump rallied in Washington on Saturday behind his spurious claim of a stolen election and swarmed his motorcade in adulation when he detoured for a drive-by on his way out of town.

Hours later, after night fell in the nation's capital, demonstrators favoring Trump clashed in the streets with counterprotesters, videos posted on social media showing fistfights, projectiles and clubs. Police arrested at least 20 people on a variety of charges, including assault and weapons possession, officials said. One stabbing was reported, two police officers were injured and several firearms were also recovered by police.

A week after Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election, demonstrations in support of Trump also took place in other cities. Fury at the prospect of a transfer of executive power showed no signs of abating, taking a cue the president’s unrelenting assertion of victory in a race he actually lost.

“I just want to keep up his spirits and let him know we support him,” one loyalist, Anthony Whittaker of Winchester, Virginia, said from outside the Supreme Court, where a few thousand assembled after a march along Pennsylvania Avenue from Freedom Plaza, near the White House.

A broad coalition of top government and industry officials has declared that the Nov. 3 voting and the following count unfolded smoothly with no more than the usual minor hiccups — “the most secure in American history,” they said, repudiating Trump's efforts to undermine the integrity of the contest.

In Delray Beach, Florida, several hundred people marched, some carrying signs reading “Count every vote” and “We cannot live under a Marxist government.” In Lansing, Michigan, protesters gathered at the Capitol to hear speakers cast doubt on results that showed Biden winning the state by more than 140,000 votes. Phoenix police estimated 1,500 people gathered outside the Arizona Capitol to protest Biden's narrow victory in the state. Protesters in Salem, Oregon, gathered at the Capitol.

The crowd in Washington was beginning to gather Saturday morning when cheers rang out as Trump's limousine neared Freedom Plaza. People lined both sides of the street, some standing just a few feet away from Trump’s vehicle. Others showed their enthusiasm by running along with the caravan.

They chanted “USA, USA” and “four more years,” and many carried American flags and signs to show their displeasure with the vote tally. After making the short detour for the slow drive around the site, the motorcade headed to the president’s Virginia golf club.