Big Cities Plan for Curfews, Businesses Begin Fortifying as Election Unrest Looms

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Businesses in major cities across the country are boarding up buildings and local governments are preparing emergency plans as fears of election night violence build.

The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council was asking for a curfew on election night to forestall looting and damage to businesses.

“We do understand there’s an impending election coming on Tuesday, but we have had hundreds and hundreds of local residents in downtown reach out to us saying that there’s something that needs to be done,” board member Marcus Lovingood said, according to KCAL-TV.

Los Angeles police said they are ready to respond.

“The LAPD is communicating with our local and state emergency partners to coordinate our response and plan for nay protests or groups that might become violent. The department has modified deployment to ensure a sufficient number of officers will be available to work evenings and into the weekend,” police said in a statement.

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Police in nearby Beverly Hills will be on “full alert” and are banning vehicles and pedestrians from Rodeo Drive on Tuesday and Wednesday, Police Chief Dominick Rivetti said, according to the Los Angeles Times. Area businesses have already started boarding up to protect shop windows, Curbed reported.

In New York City, businesses have been warned to remove items adjacent to storefronts, such as trash cans or street furniture, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Macy’s has boarded up its Herald Square store, WNBC-TV reported.

“Our windows at Macy’s Herald Square were previously scheduled to be dark next week in set-up for our annual holiday displays. Out of an abundance of caution, we are implementing additional security measures at several of our stores,” a company spokesperson said.

Chicago has begun implementing its security plan, which stretches from Halloween through the week of the election, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The plan calls for Chicago police to work with Illinois State Police, Cook County sheriff’s officers. Private security companies hired by local businesses to respond to violence and looting can now coordinate with the city via the new “Business Operations Center” set up inside Chicago’s 911 emergency center.

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If unrest explodes beyond downtown Chicago, the city is planning to deploy between 60 and 300 snowplows, salt spreaders and other trucks to seal off streets as a way to protect businesses.

In Portland, Oregon, where violence has been the hallmark of downtown nights since May, a letter earlier this month from Police Chief Chuck Lovell revealed that “a lot of business owners and operators want to know if they should close or board up their business.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that city officials have discussed a possible curfew.

The American Civil Liberties Union generally opposes putting curfews in place.

“This is a very powerful tool that threatens to substantially endanger freedom of speech and people’s right to engage in free movement,” Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California, told Curbed. “It’s a rare situation when a curfew is justified, and cities and counties are moving to impose them far too often.”

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