Protests by both sides spread across the U.S. as votes are counted.

Calling on election officials to “count every vote,” protesters marched through the streets of several American cities on Wednesday in response to President Trump’s aggressive effort to challenge the vote count in Tuesday’s presidential election.

In New York, protesters held a peaceful demonstration in Manhattan earlier on Wednesday calling for every vote to be counted and for racial equality, but hostile clashes between protesters and the police developed later on when protesters briefly shut down traffic in the West Village, and officers pushed protesters to the sidewalks and arrested at least 20 people.

A crowd of more than 150 supporters of President Trump gathered Wednesday night in front of the Maricopa County Recorder’s building near downtown Phoenix to protest what they described as efforts to cast President Trump as losing Arizona.

Many in the crowd were holding Trump flags, and numerous people were wielding AR-15 rifles and other firearms. Some in the crowd chanted “Down With Fox,” a criticism of the television network’s decision to call Arizona for Mr. Biden.

“The only way Biden can win Arizona is through fraud,” said Jim Williams, 67, a welder who attended the protest. “I won’t accept a Biden victory. I don’t want to live under Communist rule.”

At several points, protesters contended that Adrian Fontes, the county official who oversees elections in Maricopa County, was improperly failing to count some ballots and costing Mr. Trump votes in Arizona’s most populous county — although there was no evidence that any ballots had been improperly tossed.

Keely Varvel, chief deputy for the Maricopa County Recorder, said there were no plans to halt counting of the ballots because of the protest in front of the building. “We are still planning to finish up our scheduled ballot processing work and report out more results tonight,” Ms. Varvel said.

In Minneapolis, protesters blocked a freeway, prompting arrests. In Portland, hundreds gathered on the waterfront to protest the president’s attempted interventions in the vote count as a separate group protesting the police and urging racial justice surged through downtown, smashing shop windows and confronting police officers and National Guard troops.

Protesters also gathered in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere, some of them continuing the protests over racial justice and policing that have rocked the country since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. More demonstrations were scheduled for the coming days.

In Minneapolis, several hundred protesters angered over the president’s declarations marched onto Interstate 94, prompting the police to clear the roadway.

“Our focus is on not allowing Donald Trump to steal this election from the American people,” Nekima Levy Armstrong, a lawyer who was part of the protest, said in a phone interview from the freeway. She said that the protesters had halted traffic and that the police, some on horses, had begun to make arrests and were not allowing protesters to leave.

The Minnesota State Patrol said on Twitter that it was arresting protesters and that demonstrating on the freeway “is illegal and very dangerous for pedestrians and motorists.”

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