US businesses and government offices batten down the hatches

America boards up ahead of election storm: Businesses and government offices across the nation batten down the hatches in case of rioting and unrest

  • Local and state officials warn of violence across the country on Election Day as preparations are underway 
  • Retailers and other property owners boarded up their buildings and storefronts over the weekend 
  • In New York City, major brand names secured their Manhattan locations by putting up plywood  
  • Businesses in Beverly Hills and some San Francisco Bay Area counties are coming up with emergency plans 
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said police vehicles will be parked close to commercial areas downtown
  • In Washington, DC, university students were told to stockpile food and essential medicine for the days ahead 

Tuesday’s presidential election has the nation on edge and business and property owners in some of America’s major cities are taking no chances in case violence spills out into the streets.

Workers were seen this weekend all across the country boarding up store fronts, business offices, restaurants, banks, hair salons, and other places of commerce as law enforcement warned of possible unrest on Tuesday night.

Business owners are eager to avoid a repeat of the turmoil that followed the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis – an event that triggered nationwide rioting and looting.

The above image shows a Dolce and Gabbana store in the SoHo section of Lower Manhattan after it was boarded up this weekend

A man walks past a boarded-up window at a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco on Sunday. Officials in California are concerned over possible violence on Election Day

Several retailers are seen above after they were boarded up in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday

A man walks by a boarded up building in Washington, DC, on Friday as stores, businesses, and offices prepare for possible election-related unrest

Workers boarded up a branch of Santander Bank on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts, on Saturday

Retailers have been on edge after raiders earlier this year smashed windows, stole merchandise and, at times, set stores ablaze in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Portland and other US cities.

In New York City, the Guardian Angels, a volunteer nonprofit that patrols communities to prevent crime, plans to be out in the streets on Election Night to protect neighborhoods and look out for rioting and looting.

‘We anticipate like a lot of New Yorkers that one side or the other may not be happy with the outcome of November 3rd … but more importantly there are looters and thugs with no political identity who may take advantage of the situation and riot and loot again,’ Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa told WABC-TV.

In New York City, boards went up over many Fifth Avenue storefronts over the weekend.

A woman is seen above walking by a boarded up Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City on Sunday

Several popular brand stores on New York’s Fifth Avenue were boarded up over the weekend, including the NBA’s flagship store

Locals walk by a boarded up Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City on Sunday. The stores were boarded up in anticipation of election-related unrest

A T-Mobile store in Times Square is seen above on Sunday after workers boarded it up over the weekend

A man walks by a Guess shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City on Sunday 

A woman is seen above jogging by a Dolce & Gabbana location on Fifth Avenue in New York City on Sunday

A Bergdorf Goodman store on Fifth Avenue is boarded up on Sunday as a couple walks by the location

The Plaza Hotel, a New York City landmark, was also boarded up in anticipation of possible unrest on Election Day

The above image shows the entrance to the Plaza Hotel, which is located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South

Another popular brand name, Bloomingdale’s, boarded up its store in New York City on Sunday

The image above shows American Eagle and Aerie Stores boarded up in New York City on Sunday

Plywood was also seen covering the facade of one of New York’s landmarks, the Plaza Hotel.

In downtown Manhattan, some buildings that remained un-boarded during violent demonstrations in June were covered up in anticipation of even greater unrest.

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.

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.

Several businesses in New York were vandalized and looted last week in response to a police-involved shooting of Walter Wallace Jr, a black man, in Philadelphia.

Officials in California are also worried about the potential for violence, given the tense political environment this year. 

Businesses in Beverly Hills and some San Francisco Bay Area counties are boarding up windows and coming up with emergency plans, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. 

A report by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project listed California as a ‘moderate risk’ for election-related violence.

In Orange County, election officials evacuated a vote center at the Westminster Community Services Building after someone found a ‘suspicious package’ outside. 

Westminster Police are investigating.  

Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said the vote center will stay closed until ‘further notice.’

The county has 167 other vote centers for people to use, and anyone registered to vote in the county can use one.

‘I am grateful that our Vote Center team members and voters are safe,’ Kelley said in a news release.

Chicago police are prepared for any civil unrest surrounding Tuesday’s election, city officials said over the weekend.

‘There will be a zero tolerance for criminality during this time,’ said Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. 

A man walks by a boarded up Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco, California, on Sunday

Shoppers walk past a Macy’s location which boarded up its windows in anticipation of election-related violence in San Francisco on Sunday

Locals walk by a Goorin Bros. Hat Shop and a Neiman Marcus store that was boarded up in San Francisco on Sunday

The above image shows a Celine store in Beverly Hills, California, after it was boarded up over the weekend

Workers board-up the La Perla store in anticipation of violence in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday

Officials in California have taken precautions as anticipation builds for Tuesday’s presidential election

People walk by a boarded up store in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday – two days before Election Day

Workers put up plywood on storefronts in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday afternoon

A Coach store in Beverly Hills, California, is seen above after workers boarded it up on Sunday

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

‘Officers will take action against anyone intent on spreading chaos.

‘The message is, don’t loot in Chicago.’

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said residents can expect to see more police in uniform and police vehicles parked close to commercial areas downtown and in Chicago neighborhoods starting this weekend.

The 10-day strategy is similar to Chicago’s response following civil unrest this summer that included vandalism and burglaries of businesses downtown and in neighborhoods.

Lightfoot said she’s hopeful that people will be peaceful if there are protests as election results are tallied and announced.

But she said police, other law enforcement and city agencies are well prepared to respond to any violence or law-breaking.

‘Regardless of what happens, November 3 will be a big day for all of us,’ she said.

‘And our goal is clear: Keep Chicagoans safe, as we take part in this momentous day.’

People also should feel secure voting in person early or on Tuesday as the coronavirus pandemic continues, Lightfoot said.

College students in Washington, DC, were told to stockpile food and essential medication for the coming days, according to USA Today.

‘We suggest preparing for the Election Day period as you would for a hurricane or a snowstorm that would prevent you from going outside for several days to grab food or order takeout,’ according to an email sent to George Washington University students. 

Workers are seen above boarding up businesses near the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday

The nation’s capital will be a focal point of attention this week as activist groups like Black Lives Matter plan demonstrations in the city

Several buildings near the White House are seen above after they were boarded up over the weekend

Workers install plywood onto the facade of an office building near the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday

Businesses and hotels in the downtown section of the capital were seen boarded up this weekend in anticipation of Tuesday.

Several DC-based businesses said they would be closed for the entire week out of an abundance of caution, including the downtown office of Fannie Mae, the federal mortgage loan company, according to Fox Business.

The nation’s capital will be one focal point of possible unrest on Election Day.

Activists are banding together for Election Day, pooling resources, running training sessions for demonstrators, forming rapid-reaction teams and organizing events that are expected to draw large crowds.

A collection of groups led by Black Lives Matter and Shutdown DC plan an eight-hour event at Black Lives Matter Plaza, one block from the White House. 

It will include a giant screen showing election results, DJs and performances by bands playing Washington’s signature go-go music.

Downtown businesses are already boarding up their windows in anticipation, and 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.

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.

Newsham said there were no ‘credible threats right now of violence,’ but said a number of groups had applied for permits to conduct large demonstrations. 

Denver: Plywood covers the windows of the Denver City/County building as pedestrians pass by Friday

Denver: Plywood covers the windows of the Denver Election Division building on Friday in anticipation of riots

‘We ask people if they’re going to come, we welcome people to come here to the District of Columbia to exercise their First Amendment rights, but we are not going to tolerate violence or unrest,’ he said.

Demonstrators are gearing up for potential violence, especially after June, when President Trump used federal law enforcement to clear the plaza outside the White House that had been filled with peaceful protesters.

Law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon said they are prepared for potential unrest on Election Day and beyond in Oregon’s largest city and also around the state.

Portland has been the site of near-nightly protests against racial injustice and police brutality that have strained police resources and brought national attention to the city, including derision from Trump.

Several right-wing groups have rallied in the city in response to Trump’s calls for the need to restore ‘law and order’ in Democrat-led cities.

The Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County District Attorney said at a joint news conference Thursday that they have formed a ‘unified command’ to address any protests or voter intimidation.

The agencies said it was too early to say which of the agencies will command the law enforcement officers on the ground in Portland and that details were still being ironed out.

A similar unified command that was established to police a rally held by the far-right group Proud Boys last month backfired on the city.

The US Marshals Service federally deputized Portland police officers and Oregon State troopers but refused to rescind the deputations when the weekend rally ended.

The deputations – which mean that protesters arrested by city police could be charged with federal crimes in some cases – have become a hot-button issue in Portland’s close mayor’s race leading up to Election Day.

Portland has canceled days off for officers during election week, said Chief Chuck Lovell, adding that knowing exactly how many officers might be needed was hard almost a week out.

Portland police are banned from using tear gas, but Oregon State Police troopers can.

‘A lot of it, from our perspective, is somewhat reactionary. We have to react to what they decide to do, whether they decide to comply or where they decide to go and what activity they decide to engage in,’ Lovell said of protesters.

Sheriff Mike Reese said there are no known threats to Multnomah County during election week, but said his deputies would be doing additional patrols around ballot drop boxes and would respond to complaints about voter intimidation. 

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