Gear up, storm is coming 

November 1, 2020 - 11:27
Police bracing for potential unrest in days before and after Nov. 3 elections

Activist groups across the United State are already planning potential protests and demonstrations before after Election Day, anticipating foul play at the polls or in the ballot counting room. 

In Philadelphia, progressive groups are banding together to ensure a fair election process, and will stage protests if there appears to be any foul play, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The stakes are high, as the winner of the election will set the course for the U.S. recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and guide the country's reopening, as 12.6 million Americans remain unemployed.

An influx of mail-in ballots this election cycle will likely delay the announcement of a winner on election night. That departure from Election Day norms is also setting up the country for uncertainty in the days following as the prospect of a contest election lingers and both parties prepare for a 2000-esque showdown to declare a winner.

Walmart puts guns back on sales floor

Walmart reversed a decision to remove firearms from its sales floors amid civil unrest less than one day after the policy was implemented, Business Insider's Mary Meisenzahl reported. 

The original announcement on Thursday to remove the weapons from stores followed the looting of a Philadelphia Walmart after protests in the city turned violent. The protests began after the death of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who police shot multiple times after responding to a call about a man with a knife. 

Following the initial announcement, a Walmart spokesperson in a statement to Business Insider cited previous instances of civil unrest in justifying the policy change. Walmart had previously pulled guns from its shelves over the summer as protests gripped the nation following the police killing of George Floyd.

Walmart sells firearms in around 2,350 stores nationwide, and those seeking to purchase one could still do so under the new policy. Stores would shift to an on-request system instead of displaying the merchandise on the sales floor, Meisenzahl said.

Conflict experts see rising warning signs

Members of a Quaker congregation in Maryland are so concerned that President Trump will prematurely declare victory when states are still counting ballots — a process that could take days — that they are ready to take to the streets in nonviolent resistance.
They say such a scenario would amount to a "coup" — even if it involves legal fights and not military action.

"To use the word 'coup' in the United States just seems like such a foreign concept when we're supposed to be this beacon of democracy," said Alaine Duncan, an acupuncturist and Quaker who lives just outside Washington, D.C. "But it doesn't seem like we're being a beacon of democracy right now."

With Election Day just three days away, anxiety, distrust, and suspicion are running high. Activists and extremists on both the right and left are worried the other side will somehow steal the election, and they're making plans for what to do if they believe that's happening.
Experts in global conflict warn that this is a toxic brew and that conditions are ripe for conflict and maybe even violence in the U.S. There's a good chance that no clear winner will emerge on election night, and experts are concerned about what will happen after that — especially if protesters and counterprotesters collide in the streets.

Possibility for unrest is strong

Walt Madsen, the head of a group that calls itself the U.S. Northern Militia, says he has been talking to other militia leaders, and many feel the same as he does.

"If Joe Biden does win the election. I'm not going to sit there and scream, 'He's not my president.' OK?" said Madsen, an Iraq War veteran who's now a county supervisor in northern Wisconsin.

"I'm not going to go and take my militia and threaten the lives of other Americans," he said.

In fact, some militia leaders say they are afraid of the protesters on the left.

"No matter what way the election goes, there's going to be people dissatisfied with the result, and the possibility for unrest is quite strong," said Michael Lackomar, a team leader with the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia.

Lackomar said members of his group are preparing to protect their communities if there's rioting or violent unrest, like during protests earlier this year in Seattle and Portland, Ore.

Meanwhile, police departments – many of which saw days, weeks and even monthslong anti-police brutality protests and riots this summer – said they are hoping for the best when voters hit the polls on Nov. 3, but are also preparing for the worst in the days before and after.

“There is no secret that this election is more contentious than in years’ past,” said New York Police Department’s Chief Terence Monahan during a press conference covering election preparedness.

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