Armed hardcore ‘Trumpers’ among protesters in Vegas defending baseless election fraud claims

Freezing wind, drizzle and snow-sprinkled mountains, towering above a small group of pro-Trump “stop the count” protesters shouting at passing cars outside the election centre in Las Vegas’s Clark County.

This was my Joe Biden victory day.

After days of balmy weather awaiting the result of a very slow presidential electoral vote count in Nevada, my team and I found ourselves surrounded by hardcore “Trumpers” convinced that their leader – the president – was being fraudulently stolen of “four more years”.

"Trumpers," some armed, defend Trump's unfounded election fraud claims at a gathering in Las Vegas following the election. Pic: Provided by Stuart Ramsay for an eyewitness piece
Image:‘Trumpers’ – some armed – are defending the president’s unfounded election fraud claims in Nevada
A Trump supporter stands in a Pro Trump gathering in Las Vegas following the US 2020 Presidential Election
Image:Trump supporters in Las Vegas are convinced he should have won the election

They had kept a vigil night and day since the election, trying to stop the count continuing in this democratic stronghold in the world’s most famous gambling arena.

Nevada remaining a blue state overwhelmingly depended on the votes counted here in Las Vegas.

The Trump supporters here are determined in their belief that there has been a coordinated campaign to suppress their voices.

As news spread from the country’s east that the election had been called for Biden, they continued with their vociferous campaign, demanding an end to the election – not just a recount, but a new election.

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They said they were scared of what may happen. Masked men with assault rifles, alien to us but common here, made up their number.

I asked one of the gunmen, ludicrously dressed for the apocalypse, for an interview.

"Stop the steal" reads a sign by an attender to the pro-Trump protest in Las Vegas
Image:The president’s supporters have been out in force
A trump supporter stands in a Pro Trump gathering in Las Vegas following the US 2020 Presidential Election. Pic: provided by Stuart Ramsay for eyewitness piece

“So, you are the fake news,” he said.

“No, I’m from British television and we don’t make up stories, so let me speak to you,” I replied.

“No,” he said.

Trump supporters stand in a Pro Trump gathering in Las Vegas following the US 2020 Presidential Election. Pic: provided by Stuart Ramsay for eyewitness piece
Image:The group believes the claim that the election was rigged

Some 30 people had gathered with their machine guns in freezing weather outside a remote and anonymous building with no likely threat near.

That, all helped by the open carry gun laws here, was clearly absurd.

But this is where America has gone and it’s where the president has taken them.

The fact is that the overwhelming majority of United States citizens I have met over decades of visiting are really lovely – even those who simply refuse to believe this election isn’t a fraud.

A Trump supporter stands in a Pro Trump gathering in Las Vegas following the US 2020 Presidential Election. Pic: provided by Stuart Ramsay for eyewitness piece
Image:‘There’s still a fight to be had’ says the pro-Trump group

Among the crowd, I met Brandon. He wouldn’t share his family name, but he was happy to chat.

He was a really nice guy. He was also adamant that everything is fraudulent, that the mail-in ballots were illegal, and that COVID-19 was not a legitimate excuse for not coming out to vote in person.

“To think that this election has any kind of credibility is just ridiculous,” he said.

“You can’t put out a multimillion-dollar smear campaign and then send out tens of millions of ballots and think that the numbers are going to come back accurately at all.”

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Regardless of there being no evidence of corruption, just hearsay and otherwise fake Twitter posts, apparently sensible and pleasant activists in the “stop the steal” campaign remain resolute in one thing: they won’t stop.

One of them, Courtney Holland, did not think it was too late to change the result.

“I think there’s still a fight to be had, you know, if you go and take a look at President Trump’s statement that he made this morning,” she said.

“There’s a written statement where they are going to be starting Monday, filing different lawsuits and a lot of litigation, so I think there’s a long battle ahead and that’s going to be going to the courts.”

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Trump’s legal team says it will file a lawsuit in Nevada

Trump has been omnipresent in so many walks of life throughout the United States and indeed across the world for years.

Driving into downtown Las Vegas, the Trump hotel stands on the skyline next to some of the most famous hotel names immortalised in movies for generations.

His hotel is a gaudy gold. Beneath its shadow is Las Vegas Boulevard, part of the famous Las Vegas Strip.

The sounds of honking horns, cheers, clapping and celebration greeted us as we came to film.

A Biden supporter stands in a car in Las Vegas following the US 2020 Presidential Election. Pic: provided by Stuart Ramsay for eyewitness piece
Image:But Biden supporters have also been out celebrating in Vegas
A Trump supporter stands in a Pro Trump gathering in Las Vegas following the US 2020 Presidential Election. Pic: provided by Stuart Ramsay for eyewitness piece

Biden supporters were celebrating. In a town known for its partying, they were in full flow. There was a sense of relief.

The odd Trump supporter was shouting against them, but nobody was listening anymore. It felt like a metaphor.

But, crucially, it is worth remembering – amid the celebrations, this was an incredibly tight election.

Trump did well. The paradox of his success was that he galvanised just enough people to vote against him.

This country is divided and it was close. It shouldn’t be forgotten.

Joe Biden has a lot to do to unite this nation – and that can’t start until the litigation stops.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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