Even in a deep blue state like Connecticut, Saturday’s announcement of Joe Biden’s win in the U.S. presidential election was met with a mixture of caution, elation, disappointment and disapproval.
Two opposing camps of people outside the Capitol building in Hartford made that well known as they shouted at each other from opposite sides of Capitol Avenue -- President Donald Trump supporters in front of the gold-domed building and Biden supporters in front of the state Supreme Court.
“Pay your taxes!” people chanted as they held Black Lives Matter signs and rainbow flags. Cars honked their horns in support as they drove by while people began to sing “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye.”
Across the street, a man kept up a steady beat on a drum that hung from his shoulder as people, many in red, waved American flags and chanted, “We love Trump, we love Trump.”
Though divided in their messaging, protesters agreed that this had been a long and tense week for all voters as ballot counts slowly trickled in from key states. Danielle Mirek said it was a relief when The Associated Press and other news outlets declared a Biden win at around 11:30 a.m.
“Me and my boyfriend, we were so excited. My roommate, we started dancing,” she said. “I called my mom, we started dancing on the phone. It was so great.”
This was the first presidential election that Mirek, 21, of Manchester, has been able to vote in. She’s also a member and organizer of PowerUp Manchester, a grassroots organization focused on equity and eliminating racism.
PowerUp president and founder Keren Prescott had mixed feelings about this week’s election.
“It’s been stressful, it’s been exhausting, it’s been frustrating,” she said. “At times, feeling helpless, because the truth of the matter is as a Black woman, it doesn’t really matter whether Trump or Biden is in office. We still have not gotten justice for Black lives. So, I’m hesitant on celebrating, because we know that right now it feels like we won the battle, but the war, we got a long way to go for the war.”
Prescott, of Manchester, said her hope lies less in the federal government and more in local leaders of change.
“My hope is in Black women like me who have grassroots organizations, who are on the ground doing the work repeatedly, day in and day out,” Prescott said, “and trying to educate people and trying to also persuade local officials to make local policy changes. And then you’re hoping it will trickle up.”
Natalie Langlaise, president of Black Lives Matter 860 and a Hartford resident, said she wants Biden’s administration to declare systemic racism as a national crisis and allocate more funds to better support marginalized communities.
“We have been out here in the streets fighting for what’s right, fighting for equity, fighting for education, fighting for police reform,” she said. “So, we think this victory is very important for the Black community.”
Langlaise, who is originally from the Caribbean, said she and many others in the Black community also celebrate U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will become the first woman, first Black person, and first person of Asian descent to ever hold the position.
Harris’ late mother was an immigrant from India, her father from Jamaica.
“The Black Caribbean community, the Afro-American Caribbean community, is very happy right now,” Langlaise said.
But Trump supporters out in Hartford had not accepted the results as they stood Saturday.
Stephen Buchko of Canterbury said the high turnout at Trump rallies compared to small turnouts at rallies for Biden (which were intentionally designed to limit people because of the COVID-19 pandemic) did not match where the votes currently are.
Buchko blamed corruption in the election process and the U.S. Postal Service, echoing Trump’s own claims and basis for challenging the outcome of the election in the courts.
“You know, if Biden wins legally and legitimately, that’s fine,” Buchko said. “But we just want only the legal, valid votes to be counted.”
However, lawsuits brought so far have lacked actual evidence of voter fraud and Trump would have to recoup a significant number of votes in several different states to change the outcome, which legal experts say is unlikely.
But Elizabeth DeLuca, a resident of New Canaan and co-organizer with MAGA CT of Women For Trump, said the president has a right to contest the race outcome. And his supporters in Connecticut will continue to back him up as he goes forward.
“We’re here to protect and to help our president, who has been standing for us all these four years,” DeLuca said as a caravan of cars with Trump banners and American flags drove through the intersection at Capitol Avenue and Lafayette Street.
“We want him for another four years, and we believe in the integrity of the election and that’s what we’re standing for,” she said.
Erin Chang, a Greenwich resident and organization co-organizer, added that transparency in the election process was key. She felt that was not achieved this year.
“We should be able to trust the integrity of the voting process in the United States of America and make sure that all the votes that get counted are legitimate votes and not something going on behind the scenes,” she said.
Biden was declared the winner after collecting 279 of the required 270 Electoral College votes. The New York Times and other news outlets have yet to call presidential races in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina.