Protesters set fires & clash with NYC cops after hundreds turn out for ‘Count Every Vote’ march in Manhattan (PHOTOS & VIDEOS)

Protesters set fires & clash with NYC cops after hundreds turn out for ‘Count Every Vote’ march in Manhattan (PHOTOS & VIDEOS)

A sizable ‘Count Every Vote’ rally that began in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon continued into the evening, drawing around 400 or 500 marchers, a local protest group estimated.

Though the earlier action appears to have gone off without incident, with a large crowd allowed to march through the streets hoisting banners and signs, the demonstration took on a more tense atmosphere as day turned to night. Protesters who gathered at Washington Square Park in Lower Manhattan were met by “hundreds of cops” and a “constellation of police helicopters,” according to the Gothamist’s Jake Offenhartz, who documented the event on the ground.

A secondary march that broke away from the group at the park was flanked by dozens of riot officers on bicycles, who began making arrests as the crowd grew more agitated. Police also began efforts to “kettle” the rally, a tactic used to control the movement of large protests.

As the event grew more heated, scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators, who Offenhartz described as “heavy on black bloc,” referring to militant left-wing protesters who don all-black at rallies and often clash with law enforcement.

Protesters also ignited several small fires around the city, with the flames and efforts to extinguish them captured in footage circulating online.

The New York Police Department addressed the rally in a tweet as it was ongoing on Wednesday night, noting that while it supports “everyone’s right to self-expression,” setting fires “puts others at risk and will not be tolerated.” It added that officers were working to “de-escalate” the protest.

The department said it made over 20 arrests during the protest, describing the arrestees as “individuals who attempted to hijack a peaceful protest by lighting fires, throwing garbage and eggs in Manhattan,” also sharing a photo of weapons it said it seized at the march.

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