Boston ready if election brings unrest

You might be forgiven if you thought that Boston’s businesses, colleges and hospitals were preparing for a storm. And, perhaps, they were in a way. As election day 2020 (finally!) arrived, the city prepared for unrest and fall out from the election.

With the presidential election coming in the middle of a devastating pandemic and just months after protests that roiled Boston and cities around the country, businesses and institutions around the city boarded up storefronts and protected property. As of this posting, the moves were more for caution than action as no protests or violence and property damage had emerged by November 4.

It was in May, that Boston faced turmoil with tensions between protestors and police. In the aftermath of peaceful protests there were stray instances of property damage, though few places faced anything besides cracked windows and graffiti that was washed away by the end of the next day. 

Boston, as always, found its feet quickly. Public servants and private citizens worked together to tidy up the city and go onward. Though it’s clear the memory of division still lingers over the city. Election Day has only served to worsen the instinct to shore up barriers.

Nothing better sums that up than the preemptive measures various Boston businesses are taking in boarding up again. Various construction and repair companies have been hired to place wooden paneling over glass windows again. Stores ranging from as basic to 7-Eleven to Lululemon are all going the cautious route. Even Suffolk College has shuttered their campus buildings and residences.

Suffolk University boarded up the glass entrance of its Law School on Tremont. Photo by Thomas Brennan
When asked about potential rioting or property damage as a fallout of the election, a construction manager from Belfor Property Restoration said: “I don’t think it’s going happen, it’s just more a drill as I see it.” Properties along Boylston, Newbury, and South streets were boarded up along with Washington in Downtown Crossing, and even spots in the North End we’re all taking the extra caution. 
Photo by Thomas Brennan
This decision of boarding up might not have even come about were it not for the recent event shots fired on between Boylston and Newbury street just one week before the election. No one was injured in the crossfire and Boston Police made arrests a short time later, but it only added to heightened anxiety.

The news of the arrival of the National Guard was the biggest note of concern for the vitality of Boston businesses. The rolling out of soldiers patrolling with machine guns did very little to set people at ease the last time they were present. The normally lion-like bravery of Bostonians shrunk to the size of street mice. Sending most people scurrying to minimize time on the street rather than feeling safe enough to stroll or peruse stores like they used to. Hopefully the National Guard’s stay is brief during the government’s transition and normalcy can return to the city’s streets.

Over the last few months worry has been building, but Bostonians are nothing if not adaptable and capable of meeting whatever comes next face on. When the election comes to a close and change arrives, let’s all keep faith Boston will stand strong and prevail as we usher in the next chapter of our democracy.

Photo by Thomas Brennan
Photo by Thomas Brennan

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