A calm Friday afternoon in downtown Madison took a hectic turn as pro-Trump demonstrators protesting against alleged voter fraud in the ongoing presidential election faced off against counter-protesters outside the capitol building.
“F*ck Donald Trump” by rapper YG blared from a parked car as a man wearing a Trump 2020 flag as a cape yelled “Report it well! Joe Biden is a communist!” at reporters. Police officers watched as the dueling protests turned into a screaming match.
Yet, the event began on a more solemn note. Starting at 1 p.m., several dozen individuals in pro-Trump attire gathered on the eastern corner of the capitol building to draw attention to alleged acts of voter fraud that have occurred during the election.
Initial demonstrators believe, without evidence, Democratic Party officials in key swing states — including Wisconsin — have engaged in fraudulent voting schemes to steal the election from President Trump.
“We’re really concerned about the apparent attempts to steal the election away from Donald Trump,” said protester Anthony Carver. “We’re sick and tired of the political corruption in Milwaukee and cities throughout the midwest and in Georgia who have clearly cheated this election. The Democratic machine shouldn't be allowed to steal the election from Donald Trump who has rightfully won.”
When asked what evidence they had seen that indicated that voter fraud was taking place, none of the protesters interviewed by the Daily Cardinal were able to cite a credible source.
“I think it's just common sense and the fact that overnight over one hundred thousand ballots were added exclusively for Biden [in Milwaukee county] is impossible and shows that fraud has to be happening,” said one protester who wished to remain anonymous. “Polling stations have not been transparent with the counting process and I think it's pretty clear that something is going on.”
Milwaukee and a number of other Wisconsin cities process their absentee ballots in a central count facility on Election Day and only release the results of those absentee votes after every ballot has been counted. The results of the liberal-leaning Milwaukee’s nearly 170,000 absentee votes were announced early Wednesday morning, and just over 69 percent of total Milwaukee County votes were for Joe Biden. There is no evidence of any irregularities in the counting of votes in Wisconsin.
Demonstrators repeatedly expressed their belief that Trump is the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election and claimed that an investigation would prove that the Biden campaign is artificially inflating their votes.
“We have confidence that there will be a recount and that voting irregularities will be investigated,” said Carver. “We believe that if all legal votes are counted and all illegal votes are discarded that President Trump will be re-elected. We are confident about that.”
At 1:45 p.m., a crowd of approximately 75 counter-protesters bearing Black Lives Matter signs and chanting “F*ck Donald Trump” marched to meet the initial demonstrators. This resulted in a brief standoff between the two groups.
Counter-protesters consisted primarily of students and young people who objected to the allegations of voter fraud and disapproved of the current administration’s conduct over the past four years.
“We won't let misinformation like this be spread in our community,” said UW-Madison student Joshua Mitchell. “I struggle to understand how [the protesters] believe in this conspiracy theory without evidence. All votes matter and should be counted.”
While the protest remained fairly peaceful, members of the counter-protesters wore protective gear, such as bike helmets, and several individuals from both groups could be seen openly carrying sidearms.
Shortly after the crowd dispersed, Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced that he had directed the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections to immediately review state election administration.
“There should be no question as to whether the vote was fair and legitimate,” he said in a statement. “There must be absolute certainty that the impending recount finds any and all irregularities.”
Build-Up to Friday’s Protest
This incident comes in the wake of increasing tension which has seen smaller demonstrations take place throughout Madison.
The day after the election, shortly after 5 p.m., a group of protesters occupied the intersection between University Ave and Midvale Blvd — an area by Hilldale Mall — using parked vehicles to block oncoming traffic. Attendees of the protest could be heard chanting slogans such as “No Justice, No Peace” and “If we don't get it, shut it down.”
The same night, at approximately 7:30 p.m., a small group of protesters also began to gather outside the capitol building where they began to chant “Count Every Vote” in protest of Trump’s premature declaration of victory in the ongoing presidential election.