'Stop the Steal' Protesters & Counter-Protesters Shout Over A Police Line Downtown
A “Stop the Steal,” protest claiming some mail-in ballots are fraudulent was met by a few counter protesters and scores of police officers in downtown Pittsburgh Friday. The entire protest lasted about 90 minutes.
Rally organizers claim ballots received after Election Day should not be counted. The United States Supreme Court refused to intervene in a ruling allowing election officials in Pennsylvania to count absentee ballots received as late as Friday so long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. Rally attendees also claimed ballots with signatures that don't match a voter's I.D. should be thrown out. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last month that ballots cannot be thrown out on the basis of signature comparison.
Around 2 p.m., about 30 people stood outside of the City-County building while speakers made baseless claims about some mail-in ballots being fraudulent. A short time later, a dozen counter protesters walked up chanting, “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.!”
Some Trump supporters left the scene once a police officers began to arrive. But two small groups of Trump supporters and counter protesters screamed at each other for about 20 minutes as the sound of sirens grew and more police gathered.
Eventually, police in apparent riot gear outnumbered the protesters. Officers wore helmets and carried batons as they separated the two groups.
When asked about the number of officers who responded to the scene, a Public Safety spokesperson said, “Police responded when it appeared the two sides might get physical with each other. Officers formed a line between them in order to ensure that both sides could freely express their First Amendment rights.”
Chris Eryx, who claimed to have organized the rally, spoke with activist Nique Craft for almost an hour over the police line. While those two engaged, many Trump supporters either talked amongst themselves or left.
Eventually Eryx and Craft walked to a nearby Starbucks to attempt to have coffee together to continue their discussion, but the location was closed with a sign on the front door attributing the closure to the protest. Craft and Eryx spoke outside to each other while media observed.
Eryx repeated claims about mail-in ballots being fraudulent, but when asked to explain he answered, “It’s election dead,” and said ballots received after 8 p.m. Nov. 3 shouldn’t count towards the Presidential election. Mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday were accepted by Pennsylvania elections officials until Friday due to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Eryx also repeated conspiracy theories about elections workers filling out ballots. There is no evidence to support that claim.
The few remaining protesters from both groups dispersed around 3:30 p.m. The large police presence left shortly after.