A summer of civil unrest in America’s largest cities and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic mean police departments are preparing for trouble in the days following the election.
And many groups are not waiting for the official results. Cops and anti-Trump protesters clashed in Manhattan on Sunday, leading to at least 10 arrests, the New York Police Department (NYPD) said. The protesters had confronted long pro-Trump truck convoys crisscrossing the New York region.
Police are warning shopkeepers in hotspot neighbourhoods to take extra precautions, especially shops targeted by looters during violence this summer. Many New York City businesses are boarding up their storefronts as the NYPD warns of potential violent unrest, reports the New York Post.
Restaurants and businesses will have to move street furniture, display racks, and dumpsters from the sidewalks. The NYPD says it did not tell businesses to board up their stores but left it to the discretion of the owners.
Police departments all across the US are cancelling days off, preparing riot response teams and gathering intelligence about possible election unrest from social media sites and undercover officers embedded in known violent groups.
City authorities are in close contact with other cities, like Portland and Seattle, that were plagued by anti-police brutality riots after the May death of George Floyd, in order to learn from past unrest.
Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Chicago and other major cities are also preparing for possible violence, according to media sources. Many of these cities saw days, weeks and even months of mayhem over the summer.
“If it gets so bad that the NYPD can’t handle it, I don’t know of a bigger police department out there that could come and save them,” a retired officer said. “At that point you’re talking about calling out the National Guard.”
“It’s no secret that this election is more contentious than in years past,” said NYPD Chief of Department, Terence Monahan.
US citizens have had the option of voting early and by mail, and have done so in the millions. Officials anticipate clear results might take days if not weeks to be announced, leaving ample opportunity for turmoil on the streets.