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Election remains tight as Baltimore protesters take to the streets, vowing that every vote must count

Marylanders took to the streets Wednesday and called for all ballots cast in the 2020 general election to be counted on the same day President Donald Trump went to court to block some states from doing just that.

Residents across the Baltimore region rallied against election challenges by the Trump administration and expressed fear that he would stop at nothing to stay in power.

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“This may be the first of many marches, we don’t know yet,” said Andre Powell of the People’s Power Assembly. “He’s truly trying to steal the election, so every vote counts.”

About 30 demonstrators led by the Sunrise Movement gathered Wednesday morning in front of Baltimore City Hall. The group had scheduled the protest regardless of Tuesday’s results, rallying against Trump’s re-election as well as attempting to bring attention to local issues.

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Kate Ericksen said the group knew the results still would be “up in the air” when they planned to rally. Following a trend of nationwide protests throughout this year, Ericksen felt this was no time to slow up.

“It was for our movement, people in our movement and anyone who was looking for a space to get together in solidarity,” Ericksen said.

The crowd stood together, singing songs while taking turns speaking about the country’s current political state.

Rachel Epitropakis, a member of the Sunrise movement, said she has been less active due to the pandemic, and many of the group’s demonstrations and communications have taken place only virtually. But now, after nearly eight months, she came back.

She hopes that after the election results are tallied, there will be a shift in the country’s political landscape.

Although she voted this year, Epitropakis said she lost faith in the “federal political system” and is doing what she can to affect change in Baltimore. She recited a poem to protest the city’s Baltimore Refuse Energy Systems Company, or BRESCO, which demonstrators believe has been polluting the city’s air.

The city’s Board of Estimates approved a 20-year, $106 million extension with BRESCO Wednesday to handle the city’s trash at its Southwest Baltimore incinerator. The city previously passed a law to force the company to dramatically reduce the facility’s emissions, but the company sued and a federal judge struck down the law as “fundamentally flawed.”

“I’m going to try and do what I can locally, that is why I want to fight the incinerator,” Epitropakis said. “I just think it’s ridiculous that there are people inside and outside the city making contracts to keep the incinerator going.”

The protests against President Trump continued throughout the afternoon, with rallies in Howard County, Baltimore City and Annapolis while Trump took to Twitter to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

In Howard County, about 100 people gathered in Columbia as part of the nationwide Count Every Vote initiative.

Ruth Nimmo, 68, of Columbia, said organizing the protest started about three weeks ago after news reports that Trump may try to invalidate ballots or halt counting them.

“We think it’s important for people across the country to stand up and support the democratic process,” Nimmo said. “We will support whoever is declared the winner, but it needs to be in accordance with electoral law.”

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In downtown Baltimore, people held signs declaring “no stolen election, count every vote” as members of the People’s Power Assembly marched along 21st and St. Paul streets, attracting the attention of nearby residents. Protesters were followed by police and five honking cars that supported the crowd.

The group held up traffic for a short period along St. Paul Street and police officers stopped traffic at the intersection of E. Baltimore and Light streets as the protesters reached McKeldin Square. There members of the group said they will oppose any effort by Trump to declare himself the winner before all ballots are counted.

Sharon Black, also with the People’s Power Assembly, said the demonstrators must remain diligent.

“We have to keep the fight up,” Black said. “It may not be painless pushing back.”

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Ana Faguy contributed to this article.

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