The White House is reportedly planning to erect a new “non-scalable” fence around the perimeter of the building as President Donald Trump’s administration prepares for possible unrest over Tuesday’s election.
The fence will resemble the one erected during this summer’s protests against police brutality and systemic racial inequality, where demonstrations – and police brutality against peaceful protesters – took place within sight of the White House.
NBC News first reported on the plan to install the new fence. CNN later confirmed the report, citing an unnamed source “with knowledge of the matter. Tekk.tv contacted the White House and asked for a comment.
CNN reported that the proposed fence will close off the Ellipse and Lafayette Square, which extends down 15th Street to Constitution Avenue and then over to 17th Street. It will then run to H Street and across Lafayette before coming down 15th Street.
Much of the area around the White House has been cordoned off in recent months amid protests from racial justice and construction. Lafayette Park, for example, has been largely fenced off since police attacked protesters there in July, CNN said.
Trump was criticized for a photo opportunity in front of a damaged church shortly after police cleared the park of peaceful protesters with batons and tear gas.
Companies across the country are also being boarded up as Americans prepare for the climax of the most vicious presidential campaign in modern history. The coronavirus pandemic and the historically high number of postal votes means that there may not be a decisive result on November 4, opening the door to agitators who question the legitimacy of the vote.
The President plans to claim victory even before the final result is known, Axios reported, and has repeatedly refused to commit to respecting the election result if he loses to former vice-president Joe Biden.
A trump victory – or a trump challenge against a Biden victory – could lead to major protests in American cities where voters traditionally back the Democrats. Riots could also be a magnet for right-wing agitators and antifascist demonstrators who travel around the country to protest.
Earlier this month, Patrick Burke, executive director of the Washington, D.C. Police Foundation, told CNN that the police are preparing for all kinds of riots.
“If there is no winner, you will see significant deployment of officers at all levels throughout the capital,” Burke said. “Officers will receive the cancellation of days off, the extension of shifts and full deployments of officers throughout the city.
Elsewhere, large retailers are closing their stores early for fear of riots, property damage and looting, which has been seen throughout the summer on the margins of largely peaceful protests.
Nordstrom announced plans to board some 350 of its stores and hire additional security guards for Election Day, the New York Times reported. The jeweler Tiffany & Company announced that it would “board up the windows of selected stores in major cities… in anticipation of possible election-related activities”.
Saks Fifth Avenue “is implementing additional security measures in certain locations in case of riots due to the current election,” while police in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, are “taking a proactive approach,” closing down the famous luxury shopping strip of Rodeo Drive, The Times reported.
A YouGov poll published last month showed that more than half of Americans – 55 percent of respondents – expect an increase in violence after Election Day. Thirty-three percent of voters were uncertain, while only 11 percent did not expect an increase in violence.
The president was accused of stirring up tensions in the run-up to the election, refusing to denounce violent white racist groups, and encouraging his supporters to intimidate opponents at polling stations and on the campaign trail.
Trump even celebrated a caravan of supporters who surrounded a Biden campaign bus in Texas last week, rammed an escort vehicle and forced the bus off the road. Biden employees on board called 911 for help and were escorted by police to their next stop.