Thousands of protesters began to descend on Black Lives Matter Plaza a block from the White House on Tuesday evening preparing for a night of demonstrations even as many states still have hours to go until polling stations close.
As night fell on Tuesday, D.C. police lined the streets in preparation for the first signs of incoming results with an early scuffle between cops and protesters appearing to take place after demonstrators failed to comply with police orders to move a demonstration vehicle that was illegally parked.
The skirmish allegedly led to one arrest as more protesters began to gather despite the ‘non-scalable’ fence now surround the perimeter of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and secret service agents patrolling the area.
Cops escorted a truck of musical performers as Shutdown D.C. and Black Lives Matter began their demonstrations to ‘start this next phase of the election cycle in the streets’, with threats to continue the unrest for weeks if Trump is re-elected.
The groups have planned an eight-hour event at Black Lives Matter Plaza that will include a giant screen showing election results, DJs and performances by bands playing Washington’s signature go-go music. A new report claims that they ‘planned for months’ to launch a new wave of protests from election night.
While some Trump supporters were present, they were vastly outnumbered by anti-Trump protesters.
Elsewhere, the LAPD and NYPD were both preparing for potential unrest as the National Guard was activated in 16 states, according to Deadline.
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Police in Washington DC escort a truck of musical performers along K Street Northwest, outside the Hyatt Place hotel in D.C.
People gather in area renamed as Black Lives Matter Plaza near White House in Washington D.C. on Tuesday evening
Demonstrators react outside the White House while waiting on election results on Tuesday evening
People gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza as they launch a wave of protests they threaten to extend for weeks
According to the Shutdown website, the group warned that it would ‘not be the time we need to create disruption to stop a coup – yet’ on election night as votes would still be coming in.
‘But we’ll be in a good place to respond to whatever might happen. This has been a really long and dark era so we’re going to be together to process our feelings of hope, anger, fear and exhaustion as a community,’ it added.
‘Regardless of the results, election-night programming will probably wrap up around midnight so we can be energized and ready to hit the streets again on the 4th.’
Cities around the nation are bracing for election-related unrest as activists get ready for what could be weeks of sustained street actions, depending on how the vote count goes and how President Donald Trump acts after his repeated refusals to say whether he will accept the results.
The preparations have brought together a diverse constellation of groups, some decades old and others formed this past summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
An alleged early skirmish between protesters and cops broke out early on Tuesday evening
The scuffle allegedly led to one protester being arrested
People gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza near White House as protests begin before polls even close
A woman with a U.S. President Donald Trump mask dances over a U.S. flag outside Trump Tower on Election Day in NY
Demonstrators are gearing up for potential violence, especially after June, when Trump used federal law enforcement to clear the plaza outside the White House that had been filled with peaceful protesters.
‘The police are readying for battle. We should be very clear about that,’ April Goggans, a core organizer with the local Black Lives Matter affiliate, said during an Oct. 26 online training session, according to Associated Press.
Organizer Nadine Bloch has been conducting training sessions (mostly on Zoom but a few socially distanced live ones) for everyone from passionate young street protestors to federal employees seeking methods of professional civil disobedience.
Black Lives Matter protesters have organized for months to launch a new wave of demonstrations starting outside the White House on election night that could carry on for weeks, according to a new report.
A collection of activist groups led by Black Lives Matter and Shutdown D.C. have been holding training sessions via Zoom to mobilize thousands in the event of a Biden loss, if the president fails to concede or if Trump decides to contest the results, Fox News claims.
The report claims to have accessed recordings of some of the training sessions that revealed the aim was to continue civil unrest across the United States from election day until the presidential inauguration in January.
An evangelical group talks about abortion while gathering outside the White House to wait out election results
Protest signage is seen outside of the White House Election Day
People gather in front of the White House the day of the election leaving protest signs on the barriers
Security is heightened in the surrounding blocks near the White House as the Presidential Election is underway
Fox alleges that they also gained access to documents which showed plans to shut down federal buildings, including the White House, and to ambush members of Congress as they arrived to D.C. via public transport following the election, although were not able to confirm their legitimacy.
Speaking to Fox, the FBI did not confirm or deny if an investigation was underway into plans by activist groups to cause unrest in the coming days if Trump causes and upset and takes victory.
It did, however, reveal that it has been working on a federal, state and local level to ‘gather and analyze intelligence to determine whether individuals might be motivated to take violent action for any reason’.
It added that its aim was to provide a ‘centralized location for assessing election-related threats, tracking status reports and significant complaints from FBI field offices, monitoring for indicators of a coordinated nationwide effort to disrupt the election process, providing guidance to FBI field offices, and coordinating an FBI response to any election-related incident’.
According to Fox, the training sessions included maps displaying police stations, key government buildings, and media outlets in the D.C. area.
One of the Zoom sessions allegedly featured activist Lisa Fithian from the Sunrise Movement, who outlined ‘what would it take to surround the White House’.
‘We’re facing an administration and a potential coup and a potential insurrection,’ Fithian allegedly said.
‘Is there going to be a war? Are people gonna get killed? Like is that on anybody else’s mind? I’m guessing it is. We’re going to see potential fighting all over the country or in some hotspots, and we’ve already seen that, so how do we work together across the country to help support each other no matter where we are and to maximize our impact by doing similar things on similar days at similar times?’
Fox claims she added that those willing to break windows should do so to gain access to buildings.
‘We have to be willing to put our bodies on the line and take on some discomfort and sacrifice risk in order to change things.’
‘We are going to be in a crisis but we want to make sure it’s one that we are creating. We want them to be responding to us and us not responding to them. In a situation of a coup or an insurrection or an uprising, whoever’s got the guns, often can win. We should be clear. Trump’s gotta go,’ she said, according to the recording of the call posted to the YouTube account SunriseExposed.
The video has since been removed from the site for violating community guidelines.
Elsewhere in the country, large NYPD trucks surrounded Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Tuesday evening as they prepared for the closing of the polls.
Heavily armed members of the NYPD stand guard outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon
The heightened level of security came despite claims from Mayor Bill de Blasio that there was ‘no reason’ for businesses to board up their windows ahead of election day.
‘We do not have a specific threat… we are not giving guidance to do that but we certainly understand,’ he said during a press conference Tuesday.
He was slammed as ‘wrong’ and ‘clueless’ by critics including the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the largest NYPD union, which said chaos was ‘inevitable’.
NYPD Chief Terence A. Monahan also appeared to anticipate unrest Tuesday as he issued a stark warning to activists, cautioning ‘don’t even try it’.
‘We know who you are and you will be arrested,’ he said.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Tuesday morning: ‘The police officers are going to be out in force.
‘They’re going to have zero tolerance for it. Zero tolerance. I can’t be any more clear than that.’
The NYPD confirmed on Tuesday evening that they had plans in place to establish car and pedestrian-free zones if large-scale looting began to occur.
In Los Angeles, the LAPD announced Tuesday evening that they had ‘declared a citywide tactical alert to ensure sufficient resources to address any incidents that may arise as a result of Election Day activities’.
However they cautioned that it had not been implemented as ‘a result of any specific incident’.
In Beverly Hills, the 130-officer equipped police force has gone into maximum deployment from October 31 to November 7, according to Deadline. Officers are being asked to put in 12-hour shifts and the department has sub-contracted a S.W.A.T. team and 80 private security guards
An armoured vehicle patrols a boarded up Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills on Tuesday
Every major city in America is preparing for some form of unrest after a year of unprecedented violence and unrest.
National Guard troops are patrolling the streets of Philadelphia and Chicago, including Target parking lots, ahead of Tuesday’s election that is expected to trigger violence in major cities across the country.
Troops reported to Philadelphia on Monday night, arriving in armored trucks, a day before Americans went to the polls to decide on who will be the next President. It comes after weeks of unrest in Philadelphia over the police shooting of black man Walter Wallace Jr.
Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker asked National Guard troops in his state to go to Chicago in anticipation of riots and looting.
A National Guard spokesman said the troops have not yet been given any specific directions.
‘Obviously, people can see Illinois National Guard trucks and troops moving.
‘This is to be ready to respond if needed, but we have not been given any missions. We, along with most other Illinoisans and Americans, hope we are not needed,’ Barb Wilson, the spokesman, said.
In total, about 3,500 National Guardsmen have been put on active Election Day duty today in America.