While businesses board up, local activists are coordinating protests ahead of the ballot tabulation Nov. 3.
Ahead of Election Day and ballot tabulation Tuesday, local activist groups were already solidifying their plans to protest throughout DC on Election night. Local businesses have been boarding up their windows in preparation for potential civil unrest for several days and streets across the city are closed to vehicular traffic, raising questions about what the District will look like in the wake of the election.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said the city is collaborating with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to implement parking restrictions downtown that could turn into road closures. She strongly recommended against driving downtown on election day.
“We know that some people would like to cause mayhem or trouble,” Bowser said. “(However) we are preparing to ensure this city’s safety.”
Bowser said while the city has not made requests of the National Guard that they are “on alert” should they be needed.
Many states have stated that they will not be able to report official results on election day due to the large influx of mail-in ballots, but ShutdownDC, a local activist group, is encouraging people to get out and vote and then take to the streets protesting starting on election day.
The group is meeting at 4:00 p.m. at Black Lives Matter Plaza across from the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). The group says this event is a space for politicos to gather together and enjoy music, dance and hospitality while they watch election results roll in on big screens. They plan to wrap up the Nov. 3 event around midnight to be adequately rested to “hit the streets again” on Nov. 4.
Communications director of ShutdownDC Kaela Bamberger said that voting is crucial but that many of the issues that are important to community members and Shutdowndc will not be resolved through voting alone.
“Voting is very important, but I think just voting doesn’t address the things that Trump has said he would be willing to do to stay in power,” Bamberger said. “So the group advocates (for) being in the streets, protesting and civil disobedience.”
Naeem Alam, a member of the Sunrise Movement in DC, told HillRag in an email that “local protests are a way for us to hold our elected officials accountable to the public” and expressed enthusiasm for DC residents to get involved with protests across the city by joining local activist organizations like sunrise movement. While the Sunrise Movement has yet to release specific election week protest plans, they will be hosting a virtual election community gathering via Zoom.
DC Protest met Saturday for a Halloween march and organizing event. According to founder Justin Daniels, the group plans to take to the streets during election week.
“Protesting the week of the election is super important and super pivotal,” Daniels said. “We still want our voices to be heard because this isn’t something that is going to go away with an election. This isn’t an election issue, this is not a left or right issue, this is a human rights issue.”
Daniels said he has no intention of ceasing to organize emphasizing his hopes the continuation of protests will help people understand the gravity of the issues they are fighting for.
“Once they see people protesting after the election, it’s going to wake up a lot more people,” Daniels said. “This is an issue of people wanting to be treated like their fellow man.”
You can learn more about how to get involved with protests in the District at (DCProtests.com, Shutdown.org) in addition to the multitude of local organizers out on the streets each day.
Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected].