With just hours to go until Election Day, the White House is beginning to take extra precautions in anticipation of nationwide unrest. As cities across the country prepare for possible violence related to Tuesday's election, the White House has reportedly gone on lockdown, with plans to begin construction of a "non-scalable" fence.
According to Geoff Bennett of NBC News, the fence, which will be large enough to prevent people from climbing it, will be erected on Monday. The fence will surround the White House complex as well as Ellipse and Lafayette Square, according to a federal law enforcement source. Metro Police in Washington, D.C. have also put 250 National Guardsmen on standby.
The White House on lockdown: A federal law enforcement source tells NBC that beginning tomorrow, crews will build a “non-scalable” fence to secure the WH complex, Ellipse and Lafayette Square.
250 National Guardsmen have been put on standby, reporting to Metro Police officials.— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) November 2, 2020
The extra precautions come amid increased concern of civil unrest on Election Night. Charles Ramsey, former police chief in Washington, D.C., said that "unlike other elections it's the time after November 3 that we have to be very, very sensitive to," according to USA Today. Meanwhile, Columbia Business School professor and corporate strategy expert Rita McGrath predicted that the country is primed for conflict.
"What we are facing in this country is a situation where normally what would be regarded as a small thing very rapidly escalates into something that could be involving deadly force," she said. "Whether we will see a huge organized civil war-type scenario, I think that is less likely, but what I do think we will have is the human equivalent of a small bunch of brush fires all over the place."
As a result, cities across the country are preparing for waves of unrest, with stores boarding up and remaining closed and local police preparing for potential violence. Portland Police, for example, are partnering with Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police to meet with local business organizations. Chuck Lovell, Portland’s police chief, in a note recommended that business "increase public safety by removing sandwich boards, furniture, and secure dumpsters outside of your business prior to events so these objects cannot be used as projectiles, barricades or fuel for fires."
The Daily Mail reports that in D.C., similar measures are being taken, with downtown businesses boarding up and Police Chief Peter Newsham promising that his entire department would be working on Election Day. Newsham, however, has noted that there are "no credible threats right now of violence."