A sign inviting the outgoing president to “Clear”, smartphones unsheathed, two democratic voters, coming “Celebrate Biden’s victory” announced a few minutes earlier by the American media, observe the rally of supporters of Donald Trump, Saturday noon in front of the State Capitol in Lansing, capital of Michigan. The invectives start immediately, when a supporter of the president, draped in a blue “Trump 2020” banner, sees them. “Look at social networks! Look at the frauds that are happening, the ballots thrown in the trash! ”, he accuses, reproaching them for not “Not wanting to look the truth in the face”.
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After a wait of almost four days, the announcement of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory was celebrated with jubilation across the country, from Los Angeles to Washington DC, from Atlanta to New York. But in Lansing, at the call of the hashtag “Stop the steal”, “stop the flight”, relayed on social networks, several hundred pro-Trump gathered on the steps of the Capitol. “We won!”, chants the crowd. A man with a megaphone yells that “the election is not over! ”. He harangues: “Are you going to sit around and do nothing?” Stay on social media as much as you can! Stop the steal! ” And proposes that gatherings of the same type be held every day.
Pro-Trump rally in front of the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan’s capital and theater of many anti-lockdown demonstrations this year, with cries of “We won” and “stop the steal” #Election2020 @libe pic.twitter.com/frCoqut3Mi
– Isabelle Hanne (@isabellehanne) November 7, 2020
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A group is busy distributing copies of the US Constitution. Another participates in a collective prayer. “We don’t trust what’s going on, regrets Stan, an automotive retiree, residing in the suburbs of Detroit. Here in Michigan, there have been too many irregularities, computer bugs and no transparency. ” Like many other protesters, he and his wife, Diane, refuse to accept the election result, “As long as there is no recount and as long as we are not sure that the election was fair.” With a lot of viral videos and conspiracy theories relayed on social networks, supporters of the president are convinced that Republican observers were kept at bay from the count in Detroit – that is not true -, or that thousands of pro ballots -Biden appeared “As if by a miracle” in the middle of the night. “The Democrats cheated, maintains Diane. If we don’t get a new count, then we will have to live in a socialist America, and I refuse it ”, resumes the septuagenarian.
Donald Trump began this summer to accuse, preemptively, the Democrats of seeking to “Steal the election”. Waving the specter, without any proof, of “Massive fraud” linked to postal voting, a voting method widely encouraged by States to fight against the spread of Covid-19 in polling stations. The outgoing president has, for the time being, still not acknowledged his defeat. And continues, on Twitter, to spread accusations of fraud without any concrete evidence to support it, forcing the social network to add a warning to almost each of its tweets. “Bad things happened that our observers were not allowed to see, he said for example on Saturday afternoon, back from a day at golf. Millions of postal ballots were sent to people who never asked for them! ”
THE OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE COUNTING ROOMS. I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES. BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WERE SENT TO PEOPLE WHO NEVER ASKED FOR THEM!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2020
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A few hours earlier, the outgoing president tweeted that he had “Largely won this election”. The Trump camp has opened several judicial fronts in recent days, often minor, and has not yet won a decisive victory. “From Monday, our team will start taking our cases to court to ensure that electoral laws are fully respected and that the real winner is proclaimed”, the outgoing president said in a statement on Saturday. Accusing again, still without the slightest proof, Joe Biden of wanting to count ballots “Fraudulent, fabricated or deposited by deceased voters or deprived of their civic rights”, and to be “Rushed to present himself falsely” as winner of the presidential election. Ensuring that the election was “Far from over”: “I won’t give up until the American people get the honest count they deserve”.
Charges repeated in chorus by his Michigan supporters. Brad, walkie-talkie on his belt and GoPro strapped to his chest, describes himself as a “Constitutionalist”. For this forty-something, “This election is theft”. The proof, according to him: “When the United States monitors elections in foreign countries, the first thing they ask is not to resort to postal voting.” Brad assures himself “Who wins record”, that he wants “Simply a fair election”. “But I find it hard to believe that a candidate who gathered fifteen people at his meetings can win the election”, he notes, a reference to Biden’s campaign events, voluntarily organized in small committees to respect health guidelines.
“If Biden won fairly and equitably, I would hate it because I support President Trump, but I would accept it, says Rebecca, a thirty-something Amazon employee, who came in the costume of a soldier from the American Revolution. But all this fraud, all this cheating is the defeat of democracy. The numbers don’t add up, thousands of ballots have gone missing or others, all pro-Biden, have popped up … We need to get a recount in Michigan, and wherever there’s been trouble. “
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The Michigan Capitol has become, since the spring, a rallying point to oppose containment measures to fight against the spread of the coronavirus, put in place by the Democratic governor of the state, Gretchen Whitmer, a real pain-killer local Republicans. In early October, the FBI dismantled a far-right cell, which was planning his kidnapping. On Friday, the United States recorded a record of nearly 126,500 new cases of Covid-19 in one day. In the crowd this Saturday, very few masked people, but many firearms and a few semi-automatic rifles – Michigan is an open carry state, where you can carry your gun in public.
Blake and Emily, students at Lansing, came out of their house hearing noise and horns. “We were in front of CNN, we saw scenes of joy all over the country and we thought we would find it here, to celebrate the election of Joe Biden”, says the young man. “This scene is insane, engages his companion while looking at the crowd in front of the Capitol. All these people unable to recognize that they have lost, it’s really sad. And scary: how will they accept reality? How will they behave in the coming months, if they are really convinced that the election has been stolen from them? ”
Isabelle Hanne Special Envoy in Lansing (Michigan)