Several stores in downtown Chicago have started boarding up windows as the city braces for potential protests or unrest on or after Election Day.
In addition to increased police patrols, the city is prepared to deploy anywhere from 60 to 300 "infrastructure assets" in the event of a public safety emergency, according to the city's Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot said those assets, which include trucks from the Department of Streets and Sanitation and the water department, would be used "to protect neighborhood and commercial corridors and critical businesses."
In the event of large demonstrations, the city plans to alert businesses through its emergency alert system. Chicago police also set up "business hotlines" in 22 districts where business owners "can call if they are concerned about their safety."
In preparation for potential unrest leading up to and following Tuesday's general election, Macy's State Street has boarded up windows at the iconic location.
In a statement, a Macy's spokeswoman confirmed that "out of an abundance of caution", the company is "implementing additional security measures at several of our stores, including Macy’s State Street."
Several other stores in downtown Chicago were seen with boards covering windows, include Jimmy Choo, Escada, Tory Burch and Windy City Diamonds, among others.
Lightfoot cautioned that businesses are being hit exceptionally hard by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly as new restrictions begin in the city Friday, and additional challenges could force many out of business.
"We have to be in this together," she said. "But we also have to support each other and we have to particularly support our businesses, our small neighborhood businesses in particular, and I want to make sure that whatever it is people choose to express, that they honor their neighbors, who have sacrificed so much to get to the place that they can even open up a business and have sacrificed even more in this incredibly difficult year."
Lightfoot urged residents to remain calm "no matter the outcomes" of the elections.
"In this city we have a long history of peaceful protests," she said. "Let's honor that legacy in the days to come. We need to de-escalate from this long, difficult year. And as I said, I know that emotions are already high. There's a lot of apprehension that might happen next Tuesday. But please, I call upon each of you to channel your emotions into peaceful productive means of expression. We should be a model for the nation."