Building owners and businesses have turned Manhattan back into plywood city in a bid to protect their property from protestors.
In scenes reminiscent of the summer when looters hijacked civil rights demonstrations to wreak havoc on city streets, whole blocks have been boarded up.
Police and local business groups have been warning retailers and landlords of trouble for the past several days as concerns have mounted that protestors will take to the streets following a contentious election campaign.
A poll from The Economist and YouGov, 58 percent of voters believe mass protests will ensue if President Donald Trump is re-elected. If Joe Biden wins, 22 percent of those polled believed protests were very likely to happen.
Last week, NYPD issued recommendations to remove merchandise from storefront windows, to leave lights on, and to make sure that doors lock and that gates and security cameras are working.
Local BIDs have moved to clear trash and are at the ready to clean up graffiti and damage to public property.
Although it asked businesses to refrain from “preemptively board up windows,” the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership, in collaboration with the Madison Square Park Conservancy, contacted neighborhood stakeholders last week about the possibility of gatherings and demonstrations on and around Election Day.
“We provided suggestions for how business and property owners can prepare. We advised property owners to instruct tenants and building staff to not put garbage on the street until just before scheduled pick-up times and we shared NYPD’s recommendations,” said a Partnership spokesman.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio was reassuring New Yorkers.
“We do not have any specific reports or specific threats at this point,” he said on Monday.“ Everyone, of course, is concerned about the election results and what plays out after.”
If there is trouble, the mayor said, “We are ready for all sorts of challenges. A lot of preparation has been happening over the last few weeks and I’m meeting with City officials, PD officials today to continue that preparation.”
Over the weekend, major retailers including Macy’s, began boarding up, and some building owners have hired extra security to protect their property.
Over 1.1 million New Yorkers voted early in the election, but the mayor said security and voter safety would be paramount on Election Day yesterday (Tuesday).
“We want people to know that when you go out there, it will be safe and secure,” said Mayor be Blasio. “We also want people to know that we will not accept any effort to intimidate voters in New York City.”
The city created an Election Observer Corps of over 500 volunteers, lawyers and city officials, to patrol polling stations to make sure the election is accurate, safe, no one is intimidated or harassed.
“We are in an unprecedented time, there’s a reason people are so worried, but I want folks to know this city is prepared,” added the mayor.