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Businesses, Police Prepare for Possible Election Day Unrest

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Amid one of the most contentious presidential elections in recent memory, some Southland business owners are taking steps to protect their businesses from possible protests or violence.

Workers were actively boarding up storefronts on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills Friday morning. The world-renowned high-end shopping area will be off-limits to pedestrian and vehicle traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday in hopes of diverting any protesters and looters.

“As Election Day approaches and with the potential of increased demonstration and protect activity across the region, the city is taking a proactive approach to ensure a safe community for residents, businesses and visitors,'' Beverly Hills Police Chief Dominick Rivetti said in a message to the community earlier this week. “Beginning on Halloween and through election week, the Beverly Hills Police Department will be on full alert throughout the residential and business districts. Additionally, other law enforcement personnel and private security companies will offer support. Some businesses in the city may choose to limit operations during this time.

Workers board up the Adidas store on Melrose Avenue on Sunday, May 31, 2020. | Christina House / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Workers board up the Adidas store on Melrose Avenue on Sunday, May 31, 2020. | Christina House / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

“... While we are hopeful for peaceful weeks ahead, your police department is prepared to protect our city,” he said.

Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said residents can expected to see “increased uniform presence throughout our community” through the Halloween weekend and Election Day. Santa Monica's downtown shopping and tourist district was hard hit by violence and vandalism during protests that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Culver City officials also issued a statement this week saying it was prepared to protect residents' ability to safely vote.

“We support every individual's First Amendment right to peacefully demonstrate and express their opinion,” according to the city. “To ensure the safety of all those who choose to vote and peacefully demonstrate, the city team is increasing public safety efforts now through the election week.”

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said earlier this month the agency will be fully prepared to respond to any unrest that occurs in connection with the election.

“We're working with all of our partners, both first responders, emergency partners as well as L.A. County (sheriffs) ... to talk about the approaching election cycle,” Moore said, adding that he has also spoken to state and federal law enforcement to plan for any protests or groups that become violent.

Moore said if there are any disturbances, the LAPD is prepared to issue similar orders put in place in late May and early June due to protests over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

But Moore said he doesn't anticipate any major incidents in Los Angeles, as the city doesn't have the same volume of armed militia groups as other cities. Moore said the LAPD will be fully staffed during the election period, with officers alternating shifts to ensure a full presence.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said this week that while the LAPD will be fully prepared to respond to any violence, he does not anticipate any widespread unrest.

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“We are very prepared for the elections, but at the same time, I don't want to buy into a narrative that there's going to be chaos during our elections,” Garcetti said. “We prepare for the worst, but we are hoping and expect generally the best.”

Garcetti said “there's no intelligence of a widespread plot” to cause election-related disturbances. But he said people going to vote centers should “keep a lookout, let us know if anything's happening and we'll be there for you.

“But again, I do not expect that to be anything widespread. There may be individual instances, we'll see some stuff around the country. But don't let any of that change the narrative of you, your right to vote — and don't be scared to vote. We need everybody's vote protected.”

The Douglas Emmett property management company, which manages office buildings across the area, sent a message to its tenants this week saying its security staff will be on “high alert and prepared to respond should any events arise.”

“We encourage our ground-floor tenants to conduct a risk assessment and protect their business accordingly,” according to the memo, which provided contact information for area board-up companies.

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