A non-scalable fence has been temporarily installed around the White House perimeter in anticipation of Election Day protests. Spanning a total length of approximately 8,800 feet, according to the Daily Mail, the fencing began going up Monday afternoon. Made of heavy-duty material with welded wire mesh, it is meant to deter climbers as the country braces for potential civil unrest Tuesday night and in the days to follow.
According to CNN, the fence, which is the same type of fencing that was used over the summer amid nationwide protests against systematic racism and injustice, encompasses the Ellipse and Lafayette Square. It stretches from 15th Street to Constitution Avenue and over to 17th Street. The fence also goes up to H Street and across by Lafayette, and then down 15th Street.
Extra fencing going up at the White House on the eve of Election Day. pic.twitter.com/HIWjBJewuT— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) November 3, 2020
The fence marks just one of the numerous measures the White House is taking in anticipation of Election Day. According to administration officials who requested anonymity and spoke to CNN, aides to President Donald Trump have held more than five dozen meetings to discuss contingency planning for the days after the election. Secret Service officers have reportedly been equipped with new laser-blocking sunglasses, and, on Monday, Geoff Bennett of NBC News reported that Metro Police in Washington, D.C. have put 250 National Guardsmen on standby.
On Election Day, a new security fence has been installed to create an expanded perimeter around the White House pic.twitter.com/n4LC6L7zx3— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) November 3, 2020
The increased precautions come amid growing concern of civil unrest, with "large-scale demonstrations expected in major Democratic-majority cities" should Trump secure re-election. In the scenario that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, wins, law enforcement officials are reportedly preparing for the possibility of far right-wing extremists taking to the streets. Officials are also preparing for protests even if there is no clear winner come Nov. 4. At this time, however, Chris Rodriguez, the director of DC's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said that "we don't have any specific or credible threats for [around] the election."
District of Columbia Police Chief Peter Newsham, when discussing preparations last week alongside Mayor Muriel Bowser, expressed a similar sentiment, telling reporters, according to ABC News, that his office has not received any credible threats of violence. His office has received multiple requests for demonstration permits.
"We welcome people to come to the District of Columbia to exercise their First Amendment right, but we won’t tolerate violence or unrest," Newsham said, with Bowser adding, "We also know that some people would like to cause mayhem or trouble. We don't have any specific thing to report to you about that, but we will tell you that we are preparing to ensure the city's safety."