Election result draws tear-filled cheers — and jeers

Biden and Trump supporters gather in downtown Boston

SHEER ELATION consumed the Boston Common on Saturday afternoon as more than 1,000 people danced and cheered Joe Biden’s election as president. Kamala Harris, who made history as the first woman, black, or person of South Asian descent to be elected vice president, was celebrated on several signs.  

Screams of glee rose from the crowd whenever a US Postal Service truck drove by. Sometimes the driver would honk back. Cars, motorcycles, and trucks slowly inched along, windows wide as drivers blasted music, honked horns, and waved, often blocking traffic. 

One masked woman climbed atop a street light and remained there, waving a Biden flag and dancing, as the sun went down. A young man climbed atop another and popped open a bottle of champagne, spraying the crowded, which cheered and egged him on.  

A little girl sat atop of her father’s shoulder’s clutching a filled-in electoral map with “Biden Won!” written on it. Queen’s “We are the Champions” was sung, along with Miley Cyrus’s “Party in USA.”  

Others stood silently behind masks, simply holding signs. Andrea Cavazos was holding one that read, “Immigrants, we get the job done,” a phrase that has been shared widely by the cast of the musical “Hamilton” during Trump’s first term to counter his anti-immigrant policies.    

I didn’t trust him handling COVID,” Cavazos said about Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Cavazos, who is Mexican-American, said she has been worried for years about thmany executive orders Trump has issued to alter immigration policy. 

Andrea Cavazos (left), says she’s looking forward to President-Elect Joe Biden rolling back Trump’s immigration orders. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt)

“Everything DACA, the asylum policies, separating families at the border, those are all things Biden can change with executive powers, said Cavazos, who used to work with legal aid organizations assisting immigrants. 

David Wells whizzed up Charles St. on a longboard, holding a boom box high above his head to applause.  

“As a black and gay man, you don’t always feel represented in this country,” he said.  

Wells said that he’s been frustrated by the lack of White House response following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers. “Trump barely said anything about Floyd and we saw that man get murdered,” he said. 

David Wells road his long board down Boylston Street, celebrating the Biden victory. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt)

The longtime South Boston resident has spent the week nervously refreshing Google for word of the election outcome.  

“I cried a little bit when I saw,” he said, he said of news that the race had been called. “First off, now we have our first black female vice president,” he said, “Second— I don’t have to say President Trump much longer.” 

* * * *  

 Earlier in front of the State House, a very different scene played out, as  angry, unmasked supporters of President Trump protested the declaration that Joe Biden is now the president-elect.   

A crowd of 50 to 100 people chanted of “law and order” over and over 

It’s illegal, it’s illegal,” cried a woman disputing Biden’s election 

A Trump supporter yells at a man who drove by in a car holding up his middle finger at the crowd. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt)

Joan, who refused to give her last name, called the election result illegitimate because of “voting irregularities” in Milwaukee and Pennsylvania, picking up on unfounded claims made by Trump of voter fraud. 

“Several of the precincts had more Democratic votes than voters registered,” she said. The claim that seven Milwaukee wards reported more 2020 presidential votes than registered voters has been disproven.   

Nearby, a man with a black Gun & Roses T-shirt and no mask interrupted an interview with her and yelled, “The media declared him the winner and the media lies!”  

Asked if she would accept Biden as president if he were to survive any recounts and legal battles, Joan said, “What I believe is going happen is that Trump’s going to win, because right now, we’re losing our rights under election law.”  

A Biden supporter kneels in front of Trump protesters, who respond by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt)

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

A man in a black Audi rolled by, holding up his middle finger to those gathered as a few Trump supporters held up theirs, while others flashed peace signs and others. The driver waved a mask at them as they yelled back. Nearby, people from both sides got within inches of each other’s faces yelling at each other before one man kneeled in front of the Trump supporters, holding up a gay pride flag.  

A woman yelled “Donald Trump is my president and “voter ID!” in his ear.