(Reuters) – Supporters of President Donald Trump staged rallies at statehouses across the United States on Wednesday, disrupting some official functions but remaining decidedly more subdued than protesters in Washington who stormed the U.S. Capitol to demand that Trump’s election loss be overturned.
From Atlanta to Salem, Oregon, and points in between, Trump backers repeated the outgoing president’s false claims that his victory was stolen by massive voter fraud, officials and local media reported.
In Oregon’s capital, where crowds protesting in favor of Trump and against state COVID-19 restrictions burned an effigy of the Democratic governor, Kate Brown, police declared an unlawful assembly and ordered protesters to disperse. Oregon state police reported at least one person was arrested in Salem on suspicion of harassment and disorderly conduct.
There were no immediate reports of serious violence, although a news photographer was sprayed with mace or pepper spray at a rally in Salt Lake City, Utah’s capital, police said.
Protesters entered the Kansas statehouse in Topeka and assembled inside the first floor of the Capitol rotunda, though they remained orderly, television station KSNT reported. State police later said the demonstrators had obtained a permit in advance.
In Denver, the Colorado capital, Mayor Michael Hancock instructed city agencies to close early “out of an abundance of caution” after about 700 demonstrators gathered at the statehouse.
In Georgia, a major courthouse complex and two other government buildings in Atlanta were ordered closed due to protests near the statehouse. Among those disrupted were aides to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the Republican election official pressured by Trump in a weekend telephone call to “find” enough additional votes for Trump to win the state.
Georgia is among the states won by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office in two weeks.
Staff left their offices early out of an abundance of caution, but Raffensperger was not there, spokesman Walter Jones.
Some state workers also went home early in Salt Lake City, in part because of the demonstration of about 400 people outside, Lieutenant Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol said. The event was mostly peaceful but for the assault on the news photographer, Street said.
Demonstrators posted signs on the Capitol building reading “Stop the steal!” and “Trump won!” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Several hundred Trump supporters also staged a “Stop the Steal” rally at the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix, cheering and jeering while exhibiting a guillotine.
Media reported rallies in other state capitals including Little Rock, Arkansas; Tallahassee, Florida; Madison, Wisconsin; Columbia, South Carolina; and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne, Rich McKay, David Schwartz, Daniel Trotta and Steve Gorman; Writing by Steve Gorman and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Howard Goller and Leslie Adler)