News & Politics

Some DC Businesses Are Already Boarding Up in Advance of Election Day

The city has advised them not to, but, you know...

Boards on buildings on L Street, Northwest, this past June. Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

Some DC businesses downtown have started boarding up in anticipation of Election Day unrest, even though the city has advised them not to. “The District does not recommend businesses board up their buildings,” a flyer called “First Amendment Demonstration Resource Guide for Businesses” reads, though it advises property managers or businesses to contact DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs with questions about boarding up.

There are no credible threats of violence, multiple BIDs tell Washingtonian, based on their conversations with DC’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and DC police.

About 12 buildings near the White House, Black Lives Matter Plaza, and Gallery Place that were hit hard during this summer’s social-justice demonstrations have decided to board up, says a spokesperson for the DowntownDC BID in an email. The city, the email reads, has “encouraged businesses to take precautions such as securing outdoor furniture and signage that can be used as a projectile.”

Boards started going up around Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken on G Street, Northwest, over the weekend, a spokesperson for the restaurant says, and they were finished on Monday. Astro had declined its landlord’s offer to put up boards in June, but this time the landlord went ahead with the whole building, being very accommodating to Astro, putting temporary signage outside and a light inside.

There are still some windows boarded up downtown from the summer, though for some properties that could be a matter of finding replacement glass, says Leona Agouridis, the head of the Golden Triangle BID, whose boundaries abut Lafayette Square. The thick, custom glass many buildings require has to be special-ordered and can take months to arrive, especially if insurance companies are involved.

“Will you see other boards come up? You probably will,” Agouridis says, noting that her BID doesn’t advise doing so but that it’s an individual decision.

District authorities are preparing for an “election period” rather than Election Day, Mount Vernon Triangle BID President Kenyattah A. Robinson said in an email to members Tuesday: “While at this time there are no known or credible threats to the District, business and property owners should plan for the eventuality that something may happen on Election Night and the entire week following, particularly during the hours of 7pm-Midnight,” the email says.

The Georgetown BID is aware of only one business so far that’s decided to board up, President Joe Sternlieb tells Washingtonian in an email. “If businesses are very worried about their valuable merchandise and believe it is at risk, they can consider removing it from the store to a secure location for the first couple of days after the election as they monitor the situation.”

Like every BID Washingtonian spoke to, Agouridis says the Golden Triangle BID has been advising members to prepare by putting communications plans in place and identifying trusted sources of information. Her staff is prepared to come in early on Wednesday, November 4, she says, and the BID’s “ambassadors” work every day and are available to help with any cleanup that’s necessary.

The NoMa BID was somewhat off the path of demonstrations this summer and its businesses incurred minimal damage, its president, Robin-Eve Jasper says. NoMa’s businesses were generally supportive of the social-justice protests, Jasper says, noting that Red Bear Brewing Co. collected and distributed donations for protesters.

This is a developing story, and it will be updated. Additional reporting by Jane Recker. 

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.