Boarded up bank in Manhattan. Retailers close up shop ahead of elections as they expect rioting might result in looting and damage to commercial properties. Shopkeepers and big box retail shops are taking extra precautions across the US. Photo credit: Jack Cohen

Brick and mortars in major cities board up windows as precaution before elections

2 mins read

Businesses take full precautions days before elections by securing their stores, closing business for the next days. US Intelligence  agencies say right-wing extremist groups plan to use violence and other tactics of disruption.

Commercial districts in parts of Los Angeles, Chicago, NYC and Washington DC look like they are preparing for a hurricane. Really, big box retailers and small business owners are implementing extra precaution ahead of contentious presidential elections. To protect their property, shopkeepers in these metropolises, and across the country have shut down operations and boarded up windows.

In a memo obtained by CNN, NYPD trained police officers in July with a 2-day course preparing them to hit the streets prior to the election. Locations such as polling sites and areas where protests took place will be part of the special patrol during the elections.

Included in preparing for expected contentious reactions to election results, businesses in NYC were warned of possible chaos. Though NYPD says they did not suggest to business owners to board up stores, for days shopkeepers around areas hit during summer protests are not waiting for permission. 

Compton resident, Damon Crawford says, “In Beverly Hills, areas of West LA and other wealthy neighborhoods, stores have shut down.” While parts of heavily tourist areas close down, high residential areas in Black and Latino communities remain open.

“They won’t come to Compton with that shit,” says Crawford, a homeowner on the East side of the city.

Crawford also said he is now a registered gun owner. Since Obama was elected in 2008, gun purchases have climbed. During the Trump administration, gun sales have spiked so much that shortages in guns and ammunition have occurred.

Crawford said he bought a weapon in response to growing racial killings and tensions. He is not the only one. Black-owned gun license certification businesses and gun clubs have increased in business exponentially. 

Roderick ‘Dreak’ Byrd, co-owner of Black Diamond Firearms & Training, located in Charlotte, North Carolina told Ark Republic in 2018 that he and his partners, Justin Pewter and Roman Townsend, started a gun training course “because [of] the … people who opened up their own schools . . . the education is not good. A lot of the instructors are white men who wouldn’t care if you got your hair blown off.”

. . . .
Shooting range in Los Angeles, Calif. Gun licenses, gun purchases and firearm training are a big business in the pandemic. Photo credit: Logan Weaver

Crawford’s concerns align with domestic intelligence agencies expressing concern towards domestic extremist groups. Agency intelligence points to the threat that right-wing extremists plan to cause civil unrest, and if possible, civil war. In early October, the FBI and the DOJ arrested 13 white males who “conspired to “kidnap the governor from her vacation home in the western district of Michigan before the November election,” said Andrew Birge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan.

Attorney General of Michigan, Dana Nessel announced arrests were made under the Michigan Anti-Terrorism Act. AG Nessel of white males “linked to the militia group, Wolverine Watchmen, and associates of Wolverine Watchmen.” 

The state complaints allege that the seven arrested “attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan; and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan.”

These arrests fall in line with other agencies’ reports of extremists and terrorists. “You have this witch’s brew that really hasn’t happened in America’s history. And if it has, it’s been decades if not centuries,” said Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, which published a threat assessment leading into the elections.

Right now, law enforcement agencies, both federal, state and local, are on high alert over the next several days. All the while, private citizens have stocked up in arms.

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