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Fearing election unrest, businesses are preparing

Judging by the plywood, it’s shaping up to be an Election Day like no other.

A man walks past a mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg painted on a boarded-up business on the eve of the 2020 General Election in the United States, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Philadelphia.

Matt Slocum Associated Press


Judging by the plywood, it’s shaping up to be an Election Day like no other. In downtown Washington, the sounds of hammers and power tools echoed through the streets Monday as workers boarded up dozens of businesses. In New York City, businesses from Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square to high-end shops in Manhattan’s chic SoHo neighborhood had already covered their windows. Similar scenes played out in Denver and St. Paul, Minnesota, with business owners fearing that Tuesday’s election could lead to the sort of unrest that broke out earlier this year. Just a short walk from the White House, construction workers were carrying large sheets of plywood. For block after block, most stores had their windows and doors covered. Some kept just a front door open, hoping to attract a little business.

Associated Press


Security checkpoints and multiple layers of perimeter fencing stand around the entire south lawn of the White House on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Washington.

John Minchillo Associated Press


The anti-scaling fence around the White House is covered with signs on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Washington.

Alex Brandon Associated Press


Black Lives Matter Plaza, near the White House, is quiet early on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Washington.

Alex Brandon Associated Press


“We have to be ready,” said Ali Khan 66, who works at a now-barricaded downtown Washington liquor store where thousands of dollars in merchandise was stolen in June protests. “They smashed the windows and just walked out with everything.” Washington authorities pledged to keep the peace, with police officials saying the entire department would be on the job on Election Day. “Some people would like to cause mayhem and trouble,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said. She also said she had never seen so many businesses being boarded up: “That all saddens me.” Activists are preparing for another long-term occupation of Black Lives Matter Plaza, one block from the White House.

Associated Press


Artist Shane Grammer paints a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. on the sheets of plywood outside a boarded-up jewelry shop ahead of Election Day on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Jae C. Hong Associated Press


In New York City, a police department memo to officers called the vote “one of the most highly contested presidential elections in the modern era” and noted that the winner “may not be decided for several weeks.” Police there have been holding tabletop exercises to prepare for potential unrest and shifting hundreds of officers to patrol duties. “We want to be very careful not to either over-police, because that that could send a signal, or under-police,” said John Miller, the department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking last week on a local radio show, said it was too early to predict what would happen, but that the city would be ready. “We’re going to be prepared for a lot of protests, prolonged protests, potentially different protest groups confronting each other,” he said. “If anything turns violent, we’re going to move to stop that immediately.”

A woman waits at a bus stop Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in front of a boarded-up storefront as business owners prepare for possible unrest on election day in Portland, Ore.

Marcio Jose Sanchez Associated Press


Signs on the boarded-up windows outside Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth store in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.

Leila Navidi/Star Tribune Associated Press


A pedestrian passes by as workers board up the windows of a Patagonia store in downtown Seattle, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, the day before Election Day. Many businesses in the city boarded up windows Monday as a precaution against possible protests or violence on Election Day or the days following.

Ted S. Warren Associated Press

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