Cities across the nation are boarding up in preparation for widespread violence on and after Election Day, as many states prepare the National Guard for activation and specialized units of military police Guardsmen ready for rapid deployment.
On Friday, boards went up over storefronts in Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver and elsewhere in anticipation of potential political violence that would be unprecedented in modern American history.
Experts fear the unrest could be widespread regardless of whether Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden emerges victorious — and warn that riots could begin even if the results are not clear on November 3, a likely scenario given the surge in mail-in voting this cycle.
Security officials are preparing for a range of possible threats, from spontaneous acts of mob violence to more organized, planned attacks.
Washington DC: Ahead of the presidential election, workers with Baguer Construction LLC board up a Walgreens on U Street NW on Friday. Cities across the country are boarding up in anticipating of violence on and after Election Day
New York City: Workers use sheets of plywood to cover the windows of Macy’s department store in preparation for the election next week in Manhattan on Friday
Los Angeles: Laborers carry materials to board up the windows of the Saks Fifth Avenue store on Friday in Beverly Hills. Retailers, including Nordstrom, Tiffany and Saks Fifth Avenue, are boarding up their windows and adding security
Philadelphia: National Guard members patrol the area around Philadelphia City Hall on Friday
NYC ultra-rich hire armed guards to prepare for civil unrest
New York City’s wealthy elite are hiring armed guards in the run-up to the election.
At the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle, managers are deploying off duty cops with ‘submachine guns’ to stand watch, according to the New York Post.
Other top buildings, such as 220 Central Park South on Billionaire’s Row, say they are already well guarded but will take extra precautions, like keeping entrances locked at night.
Fears have been raised of violence from both left-wing and right-wing extremists — though activists on both sides insist that their goal is to defend against violence from the other side, and ensure a fair election.
Washington DC is predicted to be an epicenter of civil unrest, with left-wing activists preparing to gather for a mass demonstration there as polls close on Tuesday.
A collection of groups led by Black Lives Matter and Shutdown DC is planning an eight-hour event at Black Lives Matter Plaza, one block from the White House.
Shutdown DC is rehearsing ‘election meltdown simulations’ that include indefinitely occupying certain public spaces and rushing to intervene in attempts to intimidate voters at polling places or seize ballots.
Organizers are also preparing ‘rapid-reaction forces’ to respond to a variety of scenarios ranging from an extended Supreme Court standoff to Trump declaring victory despite official results and summoning supporters and militias to the capital.
Many of the activists fear that Facebook and Twitter might shut down, and are embracing encrypted messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram to maintain communications on election night.
In downtown Washington, workers on Friday boarded up storefronts near the White House to protect against possible damage.
There are also fears of violence from right-wing groups, particularly after members of a militia were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
Earlier this week, the founder of the Oath Keepers, another heavily armed right-wing militia group, vowed to ‘stand up and protect people on Election Day.’
Washington DC: Workers board up windows at The Hay-Adams hotel across the street from the White House Friday
Washington DC (above) is predicted to be an epicenter of election unrest, with left-wing activists preparing to gather for a mass demonstration there as polls close on Tuesday, and a right-wing group vowing to ‘protect’ the White House
Washington DC: Ahead of the presidential election, workers board up Brown Bag, a restaurant on I Street NW on Friday
Washington DC: People prepare to board up a business in the nation’s capital on Friday in anticipation of election unrest
In an interview with controversial right-wing radio host Alex Jones on Tuesday, Oath Keepers leader Stuart Rhodes accused Democrats of ‘stealing the election.’
He said that Oath Keepers will ‘be in range’ of Washington DC to stop a ‘Benghazi-style’ attack on the White House on election night.
‘When those of us are tasked with defending your rights announce that we’re going to stand up and protect people on Election Day, they immediately spin that as though we’re the ones that are going to be going out there,’ Rhodes told Jones, insisting that his group has no intention of provoking violence.
DC Metro Police Chief Peter Newsham promised Thursday that his entire department would be working on Election Day. In Washington, dozens of overlapping law enforcement agencies control certain landmarks and public spaces.
Police officials have restricted the days officers can take off around the election and have spent tens of thousands of dollars on chemical irritants and other less-than-lethal riot-control munitions after much of the agency´s stockpile was depleted this summer.
New York City: A woman walks past a Macy’s department store that has had sheets of plywood applied to cover the windows in preparation for the election next week in Manhattan
New York: Carpenters board up a Blue Mercury store located on 6th Avenue on Friday in New York City.
New York City: Businesses have taken to boarding up store fronts in anticipation of unrest related to the presidential election
New York City: A man walks past a Macy’s department store that has had sheets of plywood over the windows on Friday
Philadelphia: A woman runs past a boarded up store with a draped banner and spray painted ‘OPEN’ notices after looting on Friday . In response to widespread unrest in the aftermath of Walter Wallace Jr.’s death, the National Guard arrived Friday
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said she had not decided whether to use National Guard troops for election-related violence, though some troops still remain activated amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In New York City, boards went up over many Fifth Avenue storefronts on Friday. In downtown Manhattan, some buildings that remained un-boarded during violent demonstrations in June were covered up in anticipation of even greater unrest.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea ordered trash cans removed from key thoroughfares to prevent them from being used as projectiles.
A similar order was given to some restaurants, telling them to remove chairs and tables that have been used for outdoor dining in the pandemic.
Denver: Plywood covers the windows of the Denver Election Division building on Friday in anticipation of riots
Denver: Plywood covers the windows of the Denver City/County building as pedestrians pass by Friday
Los Angeles: A laborer paints the board at a Mikimoto jewelry store Friday in Beverly Hills. Retailers including Nordstrom, Tiffany and Saks Fifth Avenue are boarding up their windows and planning to add extra security personnel
Some states are readying the National Guard, which in Philadelphia is already patrolling the streets after multiple nights of looting during protests over the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr this week.
The National Guard has designated military police units with hundreds of troops in both Alabama and Arizona that are ready to respond within 24 hours.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, told KNXV-TV he would not ‘hesitate’ to send out the Guard should there be civil unrest.
‘But, our planning and hope would be that we’re not going to have civil unrest, but if we do the National Guard’s at the ready, and we won’t hesitate to call them out,’ said Ducey.
Philadelphia: National Guard member Private First Class Clemens monitors activity surrounding City Hall on Friday
Philadelphia: Police officers walk past as National Guard members monitor activity surrounding Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia: The National Guard is already patrolling the streets after multiple nights of looting during protests over the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr this week
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, said Thursday that he would deploy around 400 Guardsmen to compensate for poll worker shortages.
The Guard in New Jersey is assisting election officials with balloting, and Delaware and Washington state Guard personnel will provide election-related tech aid.
Tennessee’s Guard is opening polling stations for rural communities.