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A Sign Of The Times: Across U.S., City Storefronts Boarded Up Ahead Of Election

A man walks past a boarded-up window of a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco on Sunday.
A man walks past a boarded-up window of a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco on Sunday.

Plywood window coverings have blanketed high-end shopping areas of big U.S. cities ahead of Tuesday's election.

It's an eerie sight in a country built on the idea of a peaceful transition of power. In fact, that kind of signal is exactly why city authorities have generally advised business owners not to board up, promising stepped-up security measures.

Sill, plywood panels are dotting major streets in Boston and New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Store owners are on edge from break-ins during the summer, when looters took advantage of a nationwide wave of civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd.

A man walks past a boarded-up CVS Pharmacy store in Boston on Oct. 31, 2020.
Michael Dwyer / AP
A man walks past a boarded-up CVS Pharmacy store in Boston on Oct. 31, 2020.

In the nation's capital, some new boards went up alongside some old ones on storefronts that have remained boarded for months now, many sprouting murals, memorials and graffiti art.

The District's guidance for businesses did not recommend boarding up for the election, and city authorities said they were not aware not aware of any credible threats of violence as of late last week.

"While we intend to remain open where possible, out of an abundance of caution the windows of select stores in key cities will be boarded in anticipation of potential election related activity," luxury retailer Tiffany said in a statement to NPR.

The Celine store stands boarded up in Beverly Hills on Nov. 1, 2020.
Chris Delmas / AFP/Getty Images
The Celine store stands boarded up in Beverly Hills on Nov. 1, 2020.

A spokesperson for Macy's said the windows on the Herald Square store in New York City "were previously scheduled to be dark this week in set-up for our annual holiday displays. Out of an abundance of caution, we are implementing additional security measures at several of our stores."

A representative of Target also cited an abundance of caution. "We are taking precautionary steps to ensure the safety of our stores," she said. "This may [include] boarding in some locations."

Walmart last week temporarily pulled guns and ammunition off display shelves, prompting speculation the retailer was also heeding possible fallout from the election. But the retailer reversed its decision and brought firearms back to sales floors on Friday.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.