About 40 businesses have boarded up their storefronts or buildings amid pre-election anxieties, Police Chief Robert Luna said in a Zoom meeting organized for business owners Monday evening.
As several people on the call asked the chief what they should do, Luna said police aren’t recommending they close their businesses or board up for Election Day, but they aren’t discouraging it either.
He said people should decide for themselves, but he also noted that people fortifying their buildings adds to the anxiety many are already feeling.
The first businesses in Downtown began boarding up on Saturday. More followed suit as nervousness mounted locally and nationwide for Election Day and the possibilities of civil unrest after a tumultuous year.
In the Zoom call Monday evening, people repeatedly brought up May 31, when looting spread across the city in the chaos that unfolded following protests over the death of George Floyd.
Luna noted that the police department has been continuously tracking down and arresting suspected looters from that night. He noted that the police department is better prepared now for civil unrest than they were six months ago.
To have more resources available for the week around Election Day, the department switched to a level-two tactical alert this weekend, which means officers would be working 12-hour shifts and have limited days off.
Luna said the department hasn’t heard of any credible threats of civil unrest. The department is aware of a protest planned for Tuesday. Luna noted the group does not have a history of violence and the department has learned a lot by observing 131 peaceful protests since June.
“We approach a lot of our protests the same way,” Luna said, explaining that officers are often out of sight to avoid any confrontations but are readily available to respond if needed.
Luna asked that residents keep an eye out for suspicious activity. He said that recently someone reported a stack of old tires on 6th Street and Pine Avenue and the department immediately cleared them up, concerned they could be used to cause more damage.
“Maybe someone is just dumping them because they’re a slob,” Luna said, but “… At this point our hackles are up.”