Election clashes erupt across the US: Violence in Beverly Hills and arrests in North Carolina

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Unrest has begun across the U.S. ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election, with violent political clashes occurring in Beverly Hills and a get-out-the-vote Black Lives Matter march in North Carolina ending with police pepper spray and eight arrests.

In Beverly Hills, thousands of President Donald Trump‘s supporters gathered on Saturday afternoon, waving American flags and signs declaring support for the Republican candidate.

At around 2.30pm, video from the scene shows black-clad Antifa supporters attacking a participant in the ‘USA Freedom Rally’. At first, a Trump supporter is seen grappling with a black-clad counterprotester who is attempting to snatch away his American flag after heated verbal disputes.

Seconds after the Trump supporter throws an elbow at the assailant, at least six other apparent Antifa supporters swarm at the pro-Trump demonstrator, pummeling him with fists and a lead pipe.

A Trump supporter and BLM protester are seen in Beverly Hills on Saturday

Cops attempt to separate a Trump supporter and Antifa supporter in Beverly Hills

In Beverly Hills, political violence broke out between Trump supporters and left-wing groups. Left, a BLM backer and pro-Trump demonstrator remain peaceful, and right, police separate another pair of clashing protesters

Thousands of President Donald Trump's supporters gathered on Saturday afternoon in Beverly Hills for a 'USA Freedom Rally'. Above, the Trump backers hold up four fingers as they call for 'four more years' for the Republican president

Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters gathered on Saturday afternoon in Beverly Hills for a ‘USA Freedom Rally’. Above, the Trump backers hold up four fingers as they call for ‘four more years’ for the Republican president

Antifa supporters marched to oppose the Trump rally, and violent clashes broke out between the groups as cops struggled to keep them separated and maintain the peace

Antifa supporters marched to oppose the Trump rally, and violent clashes broke out between the groups as cops struggled to keep them separated and maintain the peace

Cops interview a Trump supporter who was attacked in clashes with Antifa in Beverly Hills on Saturday

Cops interview a Trump supporter who was attacked in clashes with Antifa in Beverly Hills on Saturday

A Trump supporter was treated for face injuries at the scene after he was pummeled by Antifa supporters

A Trump supporter was treated for face injuries at the scene after he was pummeled by Antifa supporters

A Trump supporter (above) was treated for face injuries at the scene after he was pummeled by Antifa supporters, as political unrest turned violent just three days ahead of the November 3 election

At the sound of a police siren, the attackers dispersed and fled into the crowd. The Trump supporter was seen chasing one of the assailants and swinging at his back with a wooden flag pole.

Moments later, police declared the rally an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowd to disperse. Protesters cleared the intersection but the pro-Trump rally continued with a march through Beverly Hills.

The pro-Trump protester had injuries to his face and was treated by the Beverly Hills Fire Department, a police official said.

Actor James Woods had a strong reaction to the incident

Actor James Woods had a strong reaction to the incident

Antifa, short for ‘anti-fascist’, is a left-wing movement that seeks to confront those whom it deems racist or authoritarian. Its supporters are known for dressing in all-black, and being unabashed by physical violence.

The shocking scene in Beverly Hills drew a strong reaction from actor James Wood, an outspoken Trump supporter, who called for ‘militias’ to respond.

‘This is an American patriot being brutally beaten by armed DEMOCRAT-supported Antifa scum,’ Woods wrote in a tweet. 

‘Where are our militias? If you can’t carry an American flag in Beverly Hills without being assaulted by armed Democrat mobs, we need to arm ourselves,’ the actor continued.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump fill the street during a rally in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday

Supporters of US President Donald Trump fill the street during a rally in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday

Twin sisters Isabella and Vanessa pose with signs of support for Trump while wearing their Halloween costumes on Saturday

Twin sisters Isabella and Vanessa pose with signs of support for Trump while wearing their Halloween costumes on Saturday

Supporters gather at a Trump rally in Beverly Hills, California on Saurday, three days ahead of the election

Supporters gather at a Trump rally in Beverly Hills, California on Saurday, three days ahead of the election

People hold signs and wave US flags during a pro-Trump rally in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday

People hold signs and wave US flags during a pro-Trump rally in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday

Antifa supporters march to confront participants in the Trump rally on Saturday in Beverly Hills

Antifa supporters march to confront participants in the Trump rally on Saturday in Beverly Hills

Police tried to keep the groups separate but at times clashes broke out between left-wing and right-wing groups

Police tried to keep the groups separate but at times clashes broke out between left-wing and right-wing groups

Like other departments across the nation, the Beverly Hill Police Department was already on high alert in anticipation of civil unrest. 

‘Beginning on Halloween and through Election week, the Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) will be on full alert throughout the residential and business districts,’ BHPD said in a statement earlier this week. ‘Additionally, other law enforcement personnel and private security companies will offer support and coordinate closely with BHPD.’

On Friday and Saturday, many of the luxury retailers and other businesses in Beverly Hills began to board up their windows. 

Iconic Rodeo Drive will be closed to both vehicles and pedestrians starting on Election Day in a bid to prevent widespread looting.

A pedestrian passes a boarded up entrance at the Saks Fifth Avenue store Friday in Beverly Hills

A pedestrian passes a boarded up entrance at the Saks Fifth Avenue store Friday in Beverly Hills

Cops in Beverly Hills form a skirmish line to keep competing groups of protesters separate on Saturday

Cops in Beverly Hills form a skirmish line to keep competing groups of protesters separate on Saturday

People hold signs and wave US flags during a pro-Trump rally in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday

People hold signs and wave US flags during a pro-Trump rally in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday

Left-wing groups confront Trump supporters during the massive rally on Saturday in Beverly Hills

Left-wing groups confront Trump supporters during the massive rally on Saturday in Beverly Hills

Antifa, short for 'anti-fascist', is a left-wing movement that seeks to confront those whom it deems racist or authoritarian. Its supporters are known for dressing in all-black, and being unabashed to use physical violence

Antifa, short for ‘anti-fascist’, is a left-wing movement that seeks to confront those whom it deems racist or authoritarian. Its supporters are known for dressing in all-black, and being unabashed to use physical violence

A jewelry store in Beverly Hills is being boarded up in anticipation of violence as a result of the upcoming US election

A jewelry store in Beverly Hills is being boarded up in anticipation of violence as a result of the upcoming US election

Police pepper spray BLM demonstrators and arrest eight people, including a journalist, during get-out-the-vote march in North Carolina 

Meanwhile on the East Coast, a BLM rally in North Carolina on Saturday ended in shocking scenes, with police deploying pepper spray, and eight people taken into custody, including a local journalist. 

An online invite for the event invited participants to ‘march in the legacy of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Marcus Smith and the A&T Four!’ 

Videos showed officers firing pepper spray into the crowd in Graham, a city of about 15,000 located about 40 miles from Raleigh-Durham. 

North Carolina is a crucial battleground state in the November 3 contest between Republican Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Shon Green, a 28-year-old activist who helped organize the protest, said police abruptly ordered an end to a peaceful march, which had been due to end at a polling station.

‘There was no explanation or anything,’ Green said in a telephone interview. ‘They started pulling out their guns and grabbing their weapons. Then they started spraying people.’

Law enforcement officers spray protesters shortly after a moment of silence during a Get Out The Vote march in Graham, North Carolina on Saturday. Cops claim the protesters refused orders to move out of the road

Law enforcement officers spray protesters shortly after a moment of silence during a Get Out The Vote march in Graham, North Carolina on Saturday. Cops claim the protesters refused orders to move out of the road

A man is detained by Graham Police officers after a moment of silence during a BLM march on Saturday in North Carolina

A man is detained by Graham Police officers after a moment of silence during a BLM march on Saturday in North Carolina

Tomas Murawski, a reporter from The Alamance News is detained by Graham Police officers during the march

Tomas Murawski, a reporter from The Alamance News is detained by Graham Police officers during the march

A woman's eyes are washed from pepper spray deployed by police at a Get Out The Vote march in Graham, North Carolina

A woman’s eyes are washed from pepper spray deployed by police at a Get Out The Vote march in Graham, North Carolina

Green said he was sprayed in the face and later slammed to the ground before being briefly taken into custody.

The Graham Police Department, in a press release, said officers used a pepper spray, which it said was sprayed into the ground, after rally participants failed to follow a command to stop blocking a road.

‘As a result of actions that occurred within the rally, on courthouse grounds, the assembly reached a level of conduct that led to the rally being deemed unsafe and unlawful by unified command,’ the police statement said. 

Following warnings that force would be used if people did not disperse after five minutes, the department said officers used the pepper spray after several people still remained.

The Burlington Times-News newspaper said one of its reporters was among those pepper-sprayed, and said that he did not hear any warning before the police action.

Protester Amy Cooper, 31, said that youngsters and the elderly were among those attacked.

‘I saw it hit a child,’ she said of the pepper spray. ‘She got it straight in the mouth and she vomited everywhere.’

A police vehicle leads a BLM Get Out The Vote march in Graham, North Carolina before cops clashed with protesters

A police vehicle leads a BLM Get Out The Vote march in Graham, North Carolina before cops clashed with protesters

An onlooker gestures with a hand signal that is sometimes a white supremacist signal at the North Carolina march

An onlooker gestures with a hand signal that is sometimes a white supremacist signal at the North Carolina march

People in a building view a truck carrying pro-Trump flags which passed by the BLM march in North Carolina

People in a building view a truck carrying pro-Trump flags which passed by the BLM march in North Carolina

A camouflaged sheriff's deputy wearing a thin blue line flag as a scarf stands near the North Carolina march

A camouflaged sheriff’s deputy wearing a thin blue line flag as a scarf stands near the North Carolina march

BLM demonstrators and Alamance County sheriff's deputies in riot gear face off in front of the courthouse in Graham, North Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 before pepper spray was used and several people were arrested

BLM demonstrators and Alamance County sheriff’s deputies in riot gear face off in front of the courthouse in Graham, North Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 before pepper spray was used and several people were arrested

Dreama Caldwell, who is a candidate for Alamance County commissioner, said that officers were to blame.

‘The only violence that happened today was from the police,’ she said.  

The ‘I Am Change’ march to the polls was organized by activist Drumwright, and began as a march from a local church to the courthouse.

Drumwright said the group was permitted to stand in the courthouse square and was escorted through the streets by the police. He also said that the group had ‘no intention’ of having the rally in the street.

‘We are fed up with this kind of treatment in Alamance County and in Graham City,’ Drumwright said in a Facebook live video following the altercation. ‘Both of those law entities … colluded to suppress peaceful organizers, who were here not only to vote today, but to call an end to system oppression and racial disparages.’

Lindsay Ayling, a graduate student and anti-racism activist who participated in the rally, told The Associated Press police used tear gas indiscriminately and without reason on the crowd, including on children.

‘The police were looking for excuses to use pepper spray and arrest members of the crowd,’ she said.

Saturday is the last day to vote early in North Carolina, a key battleground state.

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