Some DC businesses prepare for potential Election Day unrest
WASHINGTON - With less than a week before the election, many businesses in the D.C. region are preparing for potential Election Day unrest.
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CVS on K Street and Joe & the Juice at 1500 K are just two businesses that have already boarded up in anticipation of protests turning violent.
Although according to the District's election resource guide online, the "First Amendment demonstration resource guide for businesses", they don't recommend boarding up.
Some business owners say boarding up sends the wrong message.
"It sends the message that those who want to go in the streets and exercise their rights, are gonna vandalize and these two things are not synonymous... Yes, in the District there have been incidents, but overall it's been people who have been peaceful, angry, and vocal but mostly peaceful. Boarding up in advance of that, discounts the power and the purpose of so many of the people out there," said John McDonnell, CEO of Clydes Restaurant Group.
Included in that group is the historic Old Ebbit Grill, and the Hamilton, a live entertainment venue and restaurant.
McDonnell says come election night, they will be in close contact with Local Law enforcement to get real time information about any incidents and threats.
They also will have two security personnel in all their D.C. restaurants for the day of the election, and the day after just to be safe.
Andreas Knudsen, regional manager of Joe & The Juice at 1500 K, says they are choosing to protect their business by boarding up as a precaution.
"We will be boarding up on election night because we had our store destroyed last time, and we don't want that to happen again. We just got new windows and doors, we don't want to take any chances of getting that bill one more time, "said Knudsen.
He adds, "I just hope it stays quiet, and they will demonstrate peacefully, and keep the city safe."
CEO Andy Shallal with Busboys and Poets has a different perspective and approach to election night. He says he comes from the Middle East, where protests are not tolerated by many governments, but in this country it's considered patriotic. He adds it's everyone's duty to protest things you don't believe in.
"Our community is our protection, we don't need boarding. I think if you're a chain restaurant not familiar with what D.C. is all about, then maybe you have reason to worry. But for businesses like ours, we have nothing to worry about. We love our community and our community loves us back," said Shallal.
He says Busboys and Poets will be hosting a social distanced watch party at their locations and are looking forward to an exciting election night.
While the District does not recommend boarding up buildings. They do want business owners to report any suspicious activity, determine a staffing plan not only on election night but for the days to follow. And they advise that if you have security surveillance cameras, make sure they are working.