Election 2020: Arrests made after attempts to 'hijack peaceful protests' by setting fires in NYC

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Thursday, November 5, 2020
Arrests made after fires set, clashes with police in NYC
At least 20 arrests were made Wednesday night as individuals set fires and clashed with police in NYC.

NEW YORK -- Despite no reports of unrest across New York City on Election Day, several arrests were made Wednesday night as individuals set fires and clashed with police.

A couple hundred demonstrators took to the streets of Manhattan earlier on Wednesday to support "Count Every Vote." An ABC chopper 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.

NJ Burkett covers a demonstration in Manhattan to support "Count Every Vote."

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

Police say they arrested at least 20 people. Sources tell ABC News they were charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly and obstruction government administration.

"We appreciate and value the importance of freedom of speech. Our top priority is and always will be safety. We have arrested more than 20 individuals who attempted to hijack a peaceful protest by lighting fires, throwing garbage and eggs in Manhattan," the NYPD later tweeted.

Police said confiscated weapons and anyone caught with a weapon at a peaceful protest will be arrested.

Scattered protests also took place from Washington, D.C., to Washington state as votes were counted, but there were no signs of widespread unrest or violence linked to the U.S. election.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said despite the lack of protests in the city at that point, the department was ready for any possible demonstrations.

"We have to just be very fluid in our planning and expect the unexpected," Shea said.

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 Floyd's death.

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

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(The Associated press contributed to this report.)