Businesses in Major Cities Prepare for Election Day Violence

Businesses in Major Cities Prepare for Election Day Violence

Businesses in major U.S. cities are preparing for another round of rioting, looting, and vandalism, which they anticipate will follow Tuesday’s presidential election. 

Plywood boards now cover blocks of storefronts in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, as some business owners worry the election could stoke another wave of civil unrest that strained the country this summer. Business associations and local police are coordinating safety strategies with retailers to prepare for violent protests.

Stores and restaurants in New York City’s Times Square boarded up their windows as of Monday afternoon. The NYPD worked with Manhattan businesses last week to prepare for Tuesday’s general election and warned stores that were previously targeted by rioters and looters this summer to secure outdoor furniture. In addition to boarding up windows, some Manhattan businesses told the Wall Street Journal they plan on hiring extra security officers for this week. 

Stores in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile—a string of high-end retailers that looters repeatedly targeted this summer—boarded up this weekend. The Magnificent Mile Association, which represents the luxury stores, created a real-time communication system with area businesses to send emergency alerts. 

The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council asked Mayor Eric Garcetti (D.) to impose a curfew on election night to ward off potential rioters. And Beverly Hills will close Rodeo Drive, a street lined with luxury clothing retailers and other high-end stores, to protect from potential looters. Business owners along that block have also boarded up their windows. 

In Portland—where nightly riots lasted for more than 100 consecutive days this summer—police warned shopkeepers to secure outdoor furniture that rioters could use as projectiles or to start fires. Rioters there set fire to the city’s police union headquarters and launched fireworks and other projectiles at a federal courthouse this summer.

Businesses and government buildings across Washington, D.C., have boarded up in preparation for protests this week, as one activist group called #ShutDownDC has planned a weeklong series of demonstrations targeting federal agencies and Republican organizations. Federal authorities are building a non-scalable wall around the White House to prepare for potential attacks.

Anti-police protests turned violent in 140 cities this summer. Axios reported in September that the nationwide protests caused up to $2 billion in property damages—more than any other event of civil unrest in the country’s history.  

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