The windows of the fenced off St. John’s Episcopal Church are seen boarded up across the street from the White House in downtown Washington, U.S., October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

In a scene generally saved for dystopian movies, businesses from coast to coast boarded up storefronts in anticipation of civil unrest similar to what they experienced earlier this summer. While no specific threats have been made, most cities were preparing for the worst.

A large swath of Washington, D.C. businesses shuttered their doors and boarded windows ahead of the election, anticipating protests regardless of the outcome. City officials removed trash bins and bike racks so they could not be used as projectiles or battering rams. Federal authorities erected a “non-scalable fence” surrounding the White House. 

Walmart pulled guns and ammunition from its shelves last week following some stores being ransacked in Philadelphia during protests. The company later made a reversal, noting that “incidents have remained geographically isolated.” The FBI arrested militia members who were planning attacks in recent weeks. The agency will continue to monitor threats around the country from the FBI headquarters. According to an independent report, five states are at risk for “civilian militia activity” in the week around the election: Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

President Donald Trump told “Fox & Friends” Tuesday any violence following the election results would be “all be in Democrat-run cities” due to “weak leadership.” “And, you know, my side is a very strong side if they wanted to, but they don’t like doing that, you know, they’re proud of their country, they don’t want to hurt our country,” Trump said. Trump has yet to confirm if he will participate in a peaceful transfer of power should Democratic nominee Joe Biden win. Biden called for unity in the eleventh hour of campaigning.

Democrats have already experienced some threats prior to Election Day. The FBI is investigating an incident from Friday where several cars surrounded Biden’s bus and attempting to force it off the road, while similar “Trump Train” caravans blocked roads around the country throughout the weekend. At least two Democratic offices’ storefronts were vandalized Tuesday.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

US Business Leaders Urge Calm, Brace For Mayhem Around Election – Barron’s – 11/2/2020
The fears were highlighted in many US cities where retail stores were being boarded up, as some key executives expressed concerns about public reaction. […] American companies are striving to maintain the appearance of political neutrality while they ramp up security and watch for clashes between employees with conflicting political views in an election so hotly fought it is at a flashpoint.

Plywood covers Bay Area storefronts as threat of election unrest looms – The Mercury News – 11/2/2020
With political tensions running high across the country, plywood is going up over many Bay Area storefronts as business owners and landlords worry the election may kick off days of tumult. Buildings in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Walnut Creek and elsewhere are boarding up ground-level windows and doors, hoping to avoid smashed glass, looting and vandalism if post Election Day-demonstrations take a destructive turn. After months of protests, people are on edge, said Rick Mitchell, owner of Luka’s Taproom & Lounge in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood.

Downtown businesses board up in fear of potential post-election unrest – Chicago Sun-Times – 11/2/2020
Like Fiancee, Vickie’s Nails & Spa at 7 E. Superior Street near the Magnificent Mile was also hit both times, and its windows are now partially boarded up. A spokesman from Vickie’s said when the nail salon was broken into and looted over the summer, they didn’t receive help from the Chicago Police Department, despite calling 911 multiple times. “We don’t feel secure, we don’t feel safe, and we don’t feel the government can protect our business,” he said. “It’s so important that we need to protect ourselves.”

Downtown Brooklyn stores board up amid fears of 2020 election protests – Brooklyn Paper – 11/3/2020
About half a dozen stores along the outdoor retail strip between Flatbush Avenue and Jay Street had their windows covered in sheets of wood, and one contractor said his company was covering up shoe stores that were hit during previous protests this summer. […] One manager of a smaller clothing and jewelry shop across the street said that police had advised him a few weeks ago to take extra precautions around the election and protests and he said it made sense that other businesses weren’t taking any chances. “They have to be safe and they have to do the best they can,” said Ali Abbas, who manages Fulton Island between Bridge and Lawrence streets.

Downtown Dallas businesses prepping for potential Election Day unrest – The Dallas Morning News – 11/2/2020
“We’re concerned like everybody about the election,” Salazar said. “It’s for the safety of our employees. But it’s strange to have a bar closed on election night. That’s just crazy to me. I don’t know about the national chains, but most of the independent businesses here are very concerned. We all just want to get through the week.” Whether warranted or not, most Americans expect some form of unrest to follow this year’s divisive presidential election.

Some Las Vegas businesses board up, others business as usual ahead of possible election unrest – KLAS 8NewsNow – 11/2/2020
She put plywood panels on her storefront, the same boards used earlier this year when all non-essential businesses shut down. “I’m going to do whatever I can to do what’s best for myself, my brand and my company.” It’s a precaution in case of any election unrest. But again, not all business plan to take the same approach. “No, we’re not doing any of that,” said Mari Gonzales, owner of Koolsville Tattoos. “We’re boarded up all quarantine, and I don’t want to feel like I’m losing all my stuff again because of an election. I can’t do that.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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