Some New York City retailers and condo residents are girding themselves against the possibility of riots following the results — or lack thereof — of Tuesday's presidential election.
Over the weekend, dozens of chain stores across Soho and Midtown, Manhattan were once again encased with plywood. Among the corporations that had boarded up storefronts as of Monday: Chanel, Macy's, Sephora, Bergdorf Goodman, Victoria's Secret, Gucci, Citi Bank, American Eagle, and Sweetgreen.
The headquarters of News Corp — home to Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the NY Post — was also boarded up. The Diplomat Centre, an office building adjacent to the United Nations, began its fortification process shortly before sundown on Monday.
"I think it’s a bit of an overreaction," said Edwin, an employee at the Diplomat Centre, who declined to provide his last name. "What they’re trying to prevent, I don't think it’ll occur here in Manhattan."
In a statement, a spokesperson for Saks Fifth Avenue told Gothamist that they made the decision to hire security and board up their windows for fear of "civil unrest."
“Out of an abundance of caution, like many businesses, we are implementing additional security measures at certain locations in the event of civil unrest due to the current election," the spokesperson said. "As always, the safety of our customers, associates, and communities, as well as the protection of our physical assets, is of utmost importance.”
Some Manhattan residents have also taken steps to enhance their personal safety on election night. Jeff Friedman, president of Vintage Real Estate Services, told Gothamist/WNYC that a building he manages in Chelsea hired an extra guard for when the doorman goes off duty.
"They felt an ounce of protection was worth a pound of cure in the event there was a problem," he said. "They thought it was a small price to pay if there were any issues on Tuesday night or Wednesday."
Friedman said that the security company, which he declined to name, deploys off-duty and retired NYPD cops. Armed guards cost $80 an hour, while an unarmed "bouncer-type guard" is priced at half that, he said.
Another condo building near Union Square sent a memo to shareholders announcing they'd hired a private security firm for the next week, citing the neighborhood's use as a "route for marches and crowd movement."
Portions of Manhattan, as well as Fordham Road in the Bronx, were hit by spurts of looting in June during the protests against police violence sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
But while some Manhattan businesses and residents seemed to liken their fears to the uprising this summer, other New Yorkers said they were most concerned about violence originating from the right.
"My fear definitely is white supremacy coming into these developments," said Carmen Quinones, a tenant leader at the Frederick Douglass buildings on the Upper West Side. She noted that most NYCHA residents did not have the means to hire private security guards, adding that some people were nervous.
The NYPD has said that all officers should be ready to deploy in the event of election-related clashes. In a memo sent to officers earlier this month, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea warned of protests "growing in size, frequency, and intensity leading up to the election and likely into the year 2021."
Additional reporting by Gwynne Hogan.