PHILADELPHIA — Hundreds of people gathered in Pennsylvania’s largest city on Wednesday in a series of protests demanding that every vote in the presidential election be counted in the key battleground state.
They were responding to an attempt by the campaign of President Donald Trump to stop the legal ballot-counting process here and to boost his false and premature claim of victory in this week’s tightly contested election.
A “Count Every Vote” protest, organized by various progressive groups, started in the early afternoon on a lawn near Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Multiple speakers, including local clergy and Democratic lawmakers, pointed to the symbolism of the location, saying the president’s attempt to undermine the 2020 election process amounted to an existential threat to the democracy created inside the historic building — where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted during America’s founding.
“Everybody who’s here knows they have a role in protecting this democracy,” Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.) told the assembled crowd. “So let me hear you say it: every vote counts!”
“Every vote counts!” the crowd repeated.
The demonstration was one of many across America on Wednesday, as the Trump campaign filed a series of baseless lawsuits against Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia in an attempt to stop the key swing states from counting legally cast mail-in ballots, a common voting method due to the coronavirus pandemic which has proved especially popular among supporters of the president’s opponent, Joe Biden.
Trump also falsely declared victory in Tuesday’s election, even though millions of votes in multiple key states, including Pennsylvania, hadn’t been counted.
“We want to make sure that every vote is counted,” Aaron Myers, 53, who works for Aramark at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex and is part of the Unite HERE Local 274 union, told HuffPost at Wednesday’s protest. “We just want to ensure that it’s a fair election. If [Trump] wins, obviously we’ll be disappointed, but we believe that if every vote is counted, Joe Biden will win.”
Around 3 p.m., the hundreds of protesters took to the streets for a march to City Hall.
They passed near the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the Trump campaign had advertised a press conference featuring the president’s son, Eric Trump, along with the president’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, among other prominent campaign surrogates.
But as dozens of reporters waited for the press conference to begin, a campaign spokesman suddenly announced the event had been postponed.
A Philadelphia police officer told HuffPost the event had been scuttled because of the nearby protests. A short time later Eric Trump and Giuliani held their press conference on the outskirts of the city near the Philadelphia International Airport, making baseless accusations about the legitimacy of the vote in Pennsylvania.
When the protesters reached City Hall many dispersed, but others stuck around for other protests scheduled for that evening. Dozens of cops and National Guard troops stood by, anticipating unrest.
One protest — organized by leftist groups including Socialist Alternative — featured a drum corps, a small brass band, and people carrying banners reading “All Eyes On PA, The World Is Watching.”
Another protest was organized to demand justice for Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man shot and killed by Philadelphia police on Oct. 26.
Eventually, the two protests merged and marched through the streets of Philadelphia.
“The same system that has no respect for Black lives and hunts us down and shoots us in the streets,” one man told the crowd through a megaphone as the march commenced, “is the same system trying to disenfranchise Black and brown voters in Philadelphia, in Atlanta, in Milwaukee...”
The demonstration, which ended around 8 p.m., resulted in no arrests or confrontations with police.