Trump supporters spread protests to statehouses across U.S.

(Reuters) -Supporters of President Donald Trump staged rallies on Wednesday at statehouses in several cities, from Atlanta to Salem, Oregon, coinciding with the storming of the U.S. Capitol by protesters demanding that his election loss be overturned, officials and local news media said.

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In Oregon’s capital, where crowds protesting in favor of Trump and against state COVID-19 restrictions burned an effigy of the Democratic governor, 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 otherwise no immediate reports of violence or major unrest in cities around the country where pro-Trump demonstrators echoed his unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud robbed him of a re-election victory in November.

Protesters entered the Kansas statehouse in Topeka and assembled inside the first floor of the Capitol rotunda, though the rally remained orderly, television station KSNT reported. State police later said the demonstrators had obtained a permit in advance for such a gathering.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said on Twitter that he had instructed city agencies to close municipal offices early in Colorado’s state capital “out of an abundance of caution” after about 700 demonstrators gathered at the statehouse downtown.

A major courthouse complex and two other government buildings in Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, were also ordered closed due to protests near the statehouse.

Among those whose daily routines were altered were aides to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, the Republican election official pressured by Trump in a weekend telephone call to “find” enough additional votes for the president to overturn the November victory of President-elect Joe Biden, due to take office in two weeks.

Raffensperger’s spokesman, Walter Jones, said staff left their offices after lunch out of an abundance of caution because of protests. He said Raffensperger was not in the office at the time.

In Salt Lake City, Dana Jones, director of the state Capitol Preservation Board, said she had asked building staff to work from home on the advice of the Utah Highway Patrol and public safety commissioner, the Salt Lake Tribune said.

The precaution was taken, the newspaper said, in response to a crowd of about 250 pro-Trump demonstrators who posted signs on the Capitol building that read: “Stop the steal!” and “Trump won!”

A Utah state police spokesman said security had been beefed up at the Capitol, though he said protesters there were “very peaceful,” the Tribune reported. It said one of its photographers was pepper-sprayed by individuals upset that he was documenting their protest.

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.

Rallies were also held in a number of other state capitals, among them Little Rock, Arkansas, and Tallahassee, Florida, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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