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United States, Cities prepare for possible protests after elections

The FBI warned of possible armed clashes in Portland, a symbol of deep divisions in the United States, during the US election day that takes place this Tuesday.

This city in the northwestern state of Oregon, a stronghold of the Democrats, has been the scene of continuous protests against racism and police brutality, following the death of African-descendant George Floyd.

Those demonstrations have clashed with federal troops - who fiercely dispersed them for weeks with tear gas and rubber bullets - as well as far-right militias such as the Proud Boys.

And this election in such a polarized environment has set off alarms for possible violence, even lethal, in the streets, especially in the center, where merchants have already protected their businesses with wooden planks.

"What is most worrying is the possibility of armed confrontations between opposing groups," which could escalate to a dangerous situation, FBI agent in Portland, Renn Cannon, told AFP on Monday.

"If tempers warm, we could end up with a tragic and unfortunate act of violence."

Faced with the uncertainty, several cities, including Washington and New York, shielded shops and offices to protect themselves from possible disturbances.

Cannon recalled how a supporter of a far-right group was shot dead in August by an activist aligned with the left-wing Antifa movement, who was killed by police days later.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, for her part, issued an executive order for state forces to take control of Portland police, overturning a municipal order banning the use of tear gas. It also put the National Guard on alert.

"This is an election like no other in our lives," said Brown, who warned of the presence of white supremacists.

This was one of the issues that marked the campaign after the massive mobilizations in June after the death of a black citizen at the hands of a white policeman. For Trump, the message focused on repeating his mantra of "law and order" and accusing his rival of being a "socialist", warning that under his mandate the United States could become Cuba or Venezuela.

Although Oregon is a state that Democrat Joe Biden will undoubtedly win in the White House race, Portland has become a center for protests of all ideologies, with Republican militants from neighboring rural areas clashing with activists from one city. historically left-wing.

The FBI is "very vigilant" of any threats that could "reduce people's ability to exercise their First Amendment rights [free speech] or to exercise the right to vote," Cannon said, noting that the office of This federal agency in Portland, with 250 agents, has dedicated additional resources to combating electoral crimes, such as suppression of the vote, fraud and foreign cyber threats.


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