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NYC Businesses Start Boarding Up In Anticipation Of Election Unrest: 'Better Safe Than Sorry'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Businesses across the city are taking steps to secure their stores in preparation for potential unrest on Election Night.

Police are stepping up enforcement and have encouraged businesses to take extra precautions, like putting up sheets of plywood.

Business owners told CBS2's Natalie Duddridge they're prepared for anything but hope the city stays calm. Stores like Saks Fifth Avenue are taking no chances when it comes to protecting their property.

"If Trump wins, probably. I mean, look how close we are to his building. If he wins, there will probably be protests," Jason Xavier said.

"I think it's pretty unfortunate that it has come to this at this point. But I guess after everything that happened this summer, the stores just want to be prepared," Saro Gumusyan added.

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The boards were also going up and the gates were coming down at Thompson Chemists in SoHo.

"New York seems very hateful at the moment," owner Jolie Alony told CBS2's Andrea Grymes.

Alony said she's not taking any chances.

"It kind of makes people think twice about looting or about rioting, so I think it's a good idea to board your store," Alony said.

From the Empire State Building to Macy's in Herald Square and many in between, buildings and businesses are preparing for possible unrest on Election Night and beyond.

Violence and looting shocked the city in late May and June during protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Now, the NYPD is encouraging store owners to board up or, at the very least, to put away their merchandise as a deterrent.

Saks boarded up election security
Businesses across the city are taking steps to secure their stores in preparation for potential unrest on Election Night. (CBS2)

"Better safe than sorry," said Fifth Avenue Association President Jerome Barth. "A number of stores have also taken additional precautionary measures, such as hiring private security."

A security guard could be seen stationed outside one Nike store, and many shops along the city's poshest shopping street -- Fifth Avenue -- have hired off-duty officers to keep them safe.

The NYPD said it will also be removing trash cans along Fifth Avenue on Election Day and even suggested some Midtown restaurants remove outdoor furniture so they can't be used as projectiles.

And the preparations aren't just happening in Manhattan. The owner of H&H Wireless electronics store in the Bronx was ransacked in early June amid the protests and looting.

"If it happens again there's nothing I can do. I'm gonna lose everything and I have kids, I have a house, I need to pay rent. I can't afford it," Alison Jacquez told CBS2's Ali Bauman.


Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday violence will not be tolerated.

"There's a right way to express views and a wrong way to express views," he said. "This city is prepared."

Some voters said they expect the best of New Yorkers.

"I think peaceful protesting can happen. We'll see. But I don't think violent protesting will happen. I hope it doesn't," one woman said.


The extra safety measures are a big expense. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to board up a storefront.

Meanwhile, the NYPD is prepared for a number of protests that are planned as early as Monday, adding thousands of additional officers are at the ready for this election and the days following.

"They will as always facilitate peaceful protest and stop anyone who wants to cause violence or destruction," Chief of Department Terence Monahan said.

Monahan claims police are more prepared for unrest now than they were a few months ago.

"Our intel has gotten a lot better. We've identified those who are willing to cause damage and destruction and we will be on them. We know who they are," Monahan said.

The Guardian Angels plan to patrol around polling stations, as they normally do, and this year go wherever crowds may gather after.

"Make sure everybody's safe, the community's safe, and everyone feels safe going out to vote," Angel Raul Lopez said.

"There's gonna be a lot of people who want to take advantage of the tensions surrounding this election," founder Curtis Sliwa added.

Law enforcement sources also told CBS2 much of the looting this summer was by criminal opportunists often mixing in and taking advantage of protests. The NYPD said plainclothes rapid response units will be on standby if there is any commercial property damage.

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