(AP) – Protesters who back President Donald Trump massed outside statehouses from Georgia to New Mexico on Wednesday, leading to some evacuations as cheers rang out in reaction to the news that pro-Trump demonstrators had stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Hundreds of people gathered in state capitals across the country to oppose President-elect Joe Biden’s win, waving signs saying “Stop the Steal” and “Four more years,” most of them not wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic and a few carrying long guns in places like Oklahoma and Georgia.
New Mexico state police evacuated staff from a Statehouse building that includes the governor’s office and the secretary of state’s office as a precaution shortly after hundreds of flag-waving supporters arrived in a vehicle caravan and on horseback.
“It’s the first time in the history of the United States that the peaceful transfer of power has been slowed by an act of violence,¨ Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf said. “It is a shameful moment, and I hope that the Congress can recover soon.”
Chaotic demonstrations in Washington, D.C., came as Congress tried to affirm the Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Georgia’s secretary of state and his staff evacuated their offices at the state Capitol as armed protesters gathered outside.
Gabriel Sterling, a top official with the secretary of state’s office, said it was an internal decision made by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his team leave.
“We saw stuff happening at the Georgia Capitol and said we should not be around here, we should not be a spark,” Sterling told The Associated Press.
About 100 protesters gathered at the state Capitol, some were armed with long guns. Trump has focused much of his ire on Raffensperger in the weeks following his loss by about 12,000 votes.
Trump supporters circled the state Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin, in cars and trucks adorned with Trump and U.S. flags for several hours Wednesday, blaring their horns.
In Colorado, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock ordered city agencies to close buildings after hundreds gathered in front of the Capitol building for a protest against the election results.
In South Carolina, protesters supporting Trump came to the Statehouse but left before the U.S. Capitol was breached.