'A new day in America’: Joe Biden's victory prompts spontaneous celebrations across US

As supporters of Biden celebrated, crowds of Trump supporters gathered with vows to continue fighting the results

The New York Times November 08, 2020 11:16:59 IST
'A new day in America’: Joe Biden's victory prompts spontaneous celebrations across US

A woman reacts to the Associated Press calling for a victory for Joe Biden in the US presidential election. Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Chicago: People shouting from their windows, ringing cowbells on their porches and blaring car horns in the streets: As the news spread through cellphones and television screens that Joe Biden had won the presidential election, spontaneous celebrations erupted within minutes across the nation, and many persisted as street parties into the night.

In Chicago on Saturday morning, hundreds poured onto Clark Street, waving American flags, cheering and hugging. Demoz Desta, 29, emerged from a grocery store, stunned at the sudden commotion.

“I thought the Cubs won the World Series for a second,” he said. “This feels so good to see everybody so happy. It feels good to know that I’m not the only one. And we haven’t had a chance to be happy together for so long.”

Even as President Donald Trump vowed to continue fighting the election results, and his supporters gathered in tense scenes at state capitols to insist without evidence that the election had been marred by fraud, the scene in many cities was one of jubilation: In Los Angeles, impromptu celebrations broke out on street corners. In Seattle, people shot off fireworks. In New York, crowds flooded into Times Square, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, in a call to Biden from Brooklyn, held up his phone so the president-elect could hear the borough’s celebrations.

By nightfall, drummers were leading a celebratory march through the streets of Philadelphia and a mariachi band was playing to crowds in Washington, D.C.

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“It’s a new day in America,” said Barry Karas, 74, a retired actor and political activist, who was hoisting two Biden signs onto his wrought-iron fence in Washington, D.C. Passersby shouted back, including a man wearing a blue medical mask who said, “If it wasn’t a pandemic, I’d hug you!”

A new day in America Joe Bidens victory prompts spontaneous celebrations across US

People celebrate in New York after Joe Biden was declared US President-elect. Tanner Curtis/The New York Times

Nearby, the driver of a silver Toyota Prius repeatedly honked the horn, joggers held their arms up in jubilation and a woman on a bicycle rode through the intersection, shouting with joy.

As supporters of Biden celebrated, crowds of Trump supporters gathered with vows to continue fighting the results, and tense scenes began to unfold at competing events.

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, while some Biden supporters danced in celebration, carrying signs bearing messages like “The People Have Spoken,” hundreds of supporters of Trump gathered for hours, chanting “Stop the steal,” embracing the president’s baseless claims of election fraud. Many carried long guns, and police intervened to keep opposing groups separated.

One man who identified himself as part of the far-right Proud Boys, a group notorious for violence, held a sign that said “Standing Back, Standing By, Mr. President” — a reference to Trump’s comments about the group during a presidential debate in September.

In Salem, Oregon, videos showed a person wearing Proud Boys apparel using pepper spray on someone, and another person in the crowd throwing a punch.

In Lansing, Michigan, Trump supporters chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets?” and repeated Trump’s false contention that he had won the election. There was a brief fight in the crowd, which included armed people on both sides.

Curtis Udell, 56, who was standing with an AR-15 rifle, said that he still held out hope for Trump. “They’re never going to convince me that he didn’t win,” he said.

Half a dozen people were standing nearby, waving Biden signs at passing cars. Justine Robinson, a 26-year-old activist from Grand Rapids, said she had initially supported Bernie Sanders but was happy with Biden’s win. “He’s not the candidate I wanted, but he’s better than Trump,” she said. “There’s still a lot of disappointment.”

The gatherings developed as Trump signaled that he intended to continue fighting election tallies, which showed Biden with an advantage of 4 million votes nationwide and on track to win more than 300 electoral votes.

Minutes after Biden was projected to have won the presidency, a crowd of several dozen Trump supporters stood in a cold fog in front of the state Capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota, as the national anthem played. They came to protest what they saw as a fraudulent election and to show support for Trump.

“It sickens me,” said Ken Weigel, who drove nearly two hours to attend the protest. He said he would not accept Biden as president.

In Miami, about two dozen Trump supporters, mostly Cuban Americans, gathered outside a restaurant to protest the projected Biden victory. Drivers honked their horns, waving “Make America Great Again” hats out their windows, as some people waving Biden flags driving in the opposite direction shouted, “Go home!”

The protesters shouted back, “We are not socialists!”

In downtown Los Angeles, where an anti-Trump rally had been planned by liberal groups including Black Lives Matter supporters to protest the president’s efforts to contest the election, the event quickly became a site of celebration.

“I feel liberated,” said Linda Gomez, 37, an activist who has worked to promote rights for convicted felons and who herself was formerly incarcerated. She added, “Today is the people’s day.”

Gomez, like others there, said voting out Trump would not be enough to achieve the changes voters were seeking.

“We have to make sure things are implemented,” she said. “We have to hold Biden accountable.”

Sitting outside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Christian Hanna, 31, stopped his afternoon bike ride to take in the election news after he noticed his phone, balanced on the handlebars of his bike, “blowing up” with the updates.

Hanna is a registered Republican who said he disagreed with the divisive tone of Trump’s speeches and also disagreed with parts of Biden’s record. He said he voted for a third-party candidate, Jo Jorgensen.

He said some of his friends on social media were popping bottles of Champagne while others were saying, “Fight this, fight this.” He read a tweet from Trump in which the president claimed to have won the election, and said it made him think wistfully about how John McCain had accepted defeat in 2008.

“I believe in decorum,” said Hanna, who added that he was considering changing his registration to independent. “I believe in handling wins and handling losses with grace.”

Across the street, four sheriff’s deputies sat in an unmarked black SUV, keeping an eye out.

Julie Bosman, Sabrina Tavernise and Lucy Tompkins c.2020 The New York Times Company

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