Election 2020: At least 50 arrested after attempts to ‘hijack peaceful protests’ by setting fires in NYC

NEW YORK (WABC) — Despite no reports of unrest across NYC on Election Day, several arrests were made Wednesday night and into Thursday morning as individuals set fires and clashed with police.

A couple of hundred demonstrators took to the streets of Manhattan earlier on Wednesday to support “Count Every Vote.” NewsCopter 7 was overhead as the people marched down 5th Avenue “in celebration of justice, fairness and democracy.”

The group was marching toward Washington Square Park after President Trump’s team announced they will file lawsuits in Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop vote counting underway.

The rally dispersed peacefully, but about an hour later, there were reports of unrest, garbage set on fire, and clashing with police near Leroy Street and 7th Ave in Greenwich Village.

Police say they arrested at least 50 people. Sources tell ABC News they were charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly and obstruction government administration.

The NYPD also confiscated weapons including M80 fireworks, a Taser that said “police” on it, as well as knives.

RELATED | NYC businesses board up amid fears of civil unrest

“One thing that every American should agree on is that when you cast a ballot, when you vote in this country, it should count. It should be heard. We should all be able to agree on that, Democrat or Republican. And when you win, you win. And when you lose, you lose. You have to go back to the battle of ideas and try to win more votes next time,” a protester said.

As uncertainty around the election result continues, police anticipate so might the protests.

Hundreds of businesses in cities across the U.S. boarded up their doors and windows ahead of the election, fearing the vote could lead to the sort of violence that broke out after George Floyd’s death.

The NYPD had said they were plotting new ways to deal with demonstrators and protesters to avoid violence.

John Miller is Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence at the NYPD. And in all the chaos, he says his team has actually discovered order. He says tactical resistance that originated during protests in Hong Kong is now a fact of life in New York.

“Something we’ve never seen before which is almost a hundred percent resisting arrest, and what we’ve seen on top of that is a tactic called de-arresting,” Miller said. “So not only is the person not compliant in being arrested, but a group of people come in to try to pull them away.”

Miller said the tactic of de-arresting has coursed through social networks, complete with online training manuals, instructing demonstrators to surround someone cops are trying to arrest and then help him escape — leaving the cops to fight with people they weren’t even trying to arrest.

The tactic surprised cops this summer as they tried to make an arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“What this resulted in is a lot of imagery being put on social media that appears to portray excessive police violence,” Miller said. “And it’s hard to tell people you’re not seeing what you’re seeing, but when you have that context, you don’t know why that’s happening. And they’ve used that very effectively as propaganda.”

Hear more from Miller in the video below:

The NYPD also announced it had formed a Looting Task Force which is prepared to investigate any acts of looting.

RELATED | Who will win the 2020 election? Here are Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s paths to victory

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2020 VOTE RESOURCES
League of Women Voters of the City of New York
Board of Elections in New York City
NY VoterPoll Site Search

2020 VOTE COVERAGE
The Countdown
Eyewitness News Elections Coverage
ABC News Elections Coverage
FiveThiryEight.com

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