Hundreds attend pro-Trump rally at North Dakota Capitol

BISMARCK (AP) — Several hundred backers of President Donald Trump gathered Saturday at North Dakota’s Capitol, expressing support for the president and venting frustration with tabulation of election results in favor of Joe Biden.

North Dakota’s all-Republican Congressional delegation joined the group at the Capitol grounds, with hundreds carrying pro-Trump signs and banners and chanting such things “Four More Years” and “Stop the Steal.”

A few skirmishes broke out between Trump backers the handful pro-Biden and Black Lives Matters supporters present on a chilly 35-degree afternoon. One Black Lives Matter supporter attempted to handcuff himself to a Trump supporter, causing a fracas that led to both men wrestling on the ground. A North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper escorted the Black Lives Matter supporter to a squad car. It was unclear if he had been arrested.

No arrests were immediately reported.

Michael Knopik, 26, of Bismarck, crashed the podium during one address of a pro-Trump supporter, carrying a sign that read: “Keep Crying Losers.”

“I came out here to stir the pot,” he said in an interview.

The scene in ultra-conservative North Dakota was in contrast to some other parts of the country, where Biden’s victory was celebrated. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns.

Trump crushed Biden in North Dakota with more the 65 percent of the vote in the election.

Marty Beard, who lives just outside of Bismarck, carried a sign that read, “Give Me Trump or Give me Death.”

“That’s what this means to me,” he said.

U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong said they attended the rally as a tribute to the president’s four years in office, but also to support efforts to ensure results from the presidential election are tabulated correctly.

Hoeven did not back Trump’s unverified allegations of widespread election fraud and calls to stop counting votes.

Hoeven said “all legitimate” votes must be counted “so we have confidence in the election process.”

Jonathan Hallet, and his wife, Tyrene, made the nearly 2-hour drive from western North Dakota to attend the “Stand with Trump” rally that had been advertised on social media in recent days.

“Democrats stole the election,” said Hallett, who is a pastor. “Trump was cheated.”

Masks were few at the rally and social distancing was near non-existent. North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum renewed a call Thursday for individual responsibility, stressing a message for such things as wearing masks and social distancing in the state that has been recording new daily high in deaths, infections and hospitalizations.

Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford also attended the rally but did not have a face covering, nor did his wife. Several North Dakota state legislators also were maskless, as was the entire congressional delegation.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.


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