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DC businesses board up windows ahead of potential Election Day unrest

Danielle Wallace
·3 min read

Businesses in downtown Washington, D.C., boarded up their storefront windows over the weekend in anticipation of potential civil unrest in the nation’s capital on or around Election Day.

Hair salons, restaurants, clothing stores, and banks just blocks away from the White House were covered in plywood Sunday, as business owners prepare for a possible repeat of the violent riots and looting seen over the summer in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well as the decision not to charge officers in connection to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.

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One photo showed the first and second-floor windows of one building boarded up and spray painted to include artwork in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Wells Fargo, Francesca's, CVS Pharmacy and Washington Sports Club were among some of the business with plywood protecting their windows.

AT&T and some other stores Sunday had signs posted to tell potential customers they were still open behind the wooden blockades.

In an email sent to students last week, George Washington University suggested stockpiling frozen meals, medication and other supplies before Nov. 3 to prepare “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 USA Today.

A representative with the Downtown DC Business Improvement District told the Washingtonian that several prominent businesses plan to close on Election Day or for at least the entire week.

The downtown D.C. office for Fannie Mae, the federal mortgage loan company, will be close all of next week “out of an abundance of caution” of any election-related violence, and staff will not be allowed to enter the office for the conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks on election night.

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DC Metro Police Chief Peter Newsham said Thursday there were no “credible threats right now of violence,” but said a number of groups had applied for permits to conduct large demonstrations and the entire police department would be working on Election Day.

“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.

In the nation's capital, dozens of overlapping law enforcement agencies control certain landmarks and public spaces.

Police officials have restricted which 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.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

Outside of the downtown area, storefronts were also boarded up in Georgetown, Kalorama, U Street, Van Ness, and Cathedral Heights.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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