After a tumultuous year full of violent protests, riots, and looting, businesses across the country, and especially in large cities, are boarding up ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Business owners whose buildings were previously vandalized and broken into are being especially proactive in installing plywood over windows and doors, despite there being no specific threats of violence.
From D.C. to New York to Chicago to Portland, businesses that were already hit hard by pandemic shutdowns are now tasked with protecting the physical assets they have left. Many businesses that were not able to afford repairs after the first round of rioting and looting will remain boarded up from May until next year.
Violence Is Now Expected
USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll: Ahead of Election Day, 3 of 4 voters worry about violence in a divided nation https://t.co/R854ce0jG5
— The Progressive Mind (@Libertea2012) October 29, 2020
Despite years of contentious although accepted elections, this year both Democrats and Republicans have declared that they will not accept the results if the other party wins.
Kamala Harris has declared that voter suppression and foreign interference in the Presidential election could alter the true results. Donald Trump has cast significant doubt on the legitimacy and accurate counting of mail-in ballots.
In 2020, there is not only an expectation of contention, and several weeks of waiting before a winner is declared. However, there is also an expectation of violent outbursts. After a summer of protests turning violent, Americans expect more of the same destructive behavior in response to the election.
Three of four voters say they're worried about possible violence. Meanwhile, only 1 in 4 say they're “very confident” the country will see a peaceful transfer of power, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll finds. This is if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump.
Police Departments Prepare
After a year in which much of America called for their defunding, police departments are preparing every way they can for what may come next week.
In Chicago, Police Superintendent David Brown said that the police department has canceled November days off for police officers in charge of managing protests.
Rich Guidice, executive director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, held a press conference earlier this month. He said that “The city is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to planning for this event. We have been performing drills and holding workshops to be ready to respond to any situation or possible event that should occur in this city before, on or after Election Day.”
In New York City, the police department says that there have been no specific and credible threats targeting the election. But street officers have completed crowd control retraining in the event of protests. Also, “hundreds” of officers are ready to respond to election-related demonstrations.
In Portland, protesters faced off against federal officers on a nightly basis outside of the city's downtown federal courthouse. Here, owners of businesses wondered if they should close or board up their properties. Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said all these in a letter last week.
“While we do not have any current intelligence to suggest violence, we know there is a lot of uncertainty and tension in our community during this time,” Lovell said. This confirmed that the department will increase staffing on and after Election Day.
Peaceful Elections Are in Question
For perhaps the first time in history, the legitimacy and safety of our elections is being brought into question. Those that fear the COVID-19 pandemic are voting by mail. They do so through a postal service that is on the verge of bankruptcy. The same service consistently loses credibility as a trustworthy department of the government.
Those who are voting in person are being told to fear for their physical safety. It comes as Democrats accuse “armed militias” of policing polling places in an effort to influence the election.
The four-year-old conspiracy theory that foreign governments like China and Russia are influencing our election through online marketing scams has returned.
Three-quarters of Americans expect widespread violence in reaction to either winner of the election. This may become more likely especially if Donald Trump wins reelection.
The America that we once knew and loved, hangs in the balance.