The city of Denver warned downtown businesses to prepare for social unrest around the election, passing out half-page flyers last week that urged business owners to call 911 if they witness anyone damaging property around Tuesday’s election.
“YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS,” the flyer reads. “The city cares about your safety and well-being.”
The flyers are one of several measures Denver officials are taking to prepare for potential protests, demonstrations, riots or violence around the election — last week, city officials announced they’ll open a police command post on Tuesday and operate the Emergency Operations Center to monitor events as the election unfolds.
“Denver is taking proactive steps to make sure business owners and managers are aware of the potential for unrest and to encourage you to take precautions to protect your business,” reads the flyer, which was created and hand-delivered to businesses downtown by Denver Economic Development & Opportunity.
By Sunday, many shops along the 16th Street Mall had boarded up their windows with plywood to try to ward off would-be looters or rioters. Many of the boarded up shops were damaged or robbed earlier this year during the civil unrest that unfolded after George Floyd’s death, managers and owners said.
Derek Friedman, who owns two Sportsfan stores on the 16th Street Mall, said he lost “tens of thousands” of dollars in inventory when one store was burglarized this summer. That store’s windows have been broken seven different times this year, he said.
His shops are already struggling in the coronavirus pandemic — revenues this year will be half of last year’s, he estimated — and he can’t afford to lose any more merchandise.
“When you have all the expenses, and the lost merchandise on top of that, it puts you in a situation where you can’t risk it,” he said. “So you spend the extra money to cover up the windows, and then you pray.”
His store windows weren’t boarded up Sunday — he wanted the shops to be as welcoming as possible while the Broncos are in playing in town — but they will be on Monday, he said.
“What we are praying for is a peaceful election season,” he said. “And that irrespective of who wins and who doesn’t, and how long it takes to determine, that all of us as Americans will find our way together.”
Up the street, Shyam Shrestha has already covered his shop’s windows with plywood. This summer, during the height of the demonstrations, his store was looted and he lost about $30,000 in inventory, much of it in stolen silver jewelry, he said.
He spent another $1,800 to repair the shop’s broken windows, now covered with plywood.
“After the election, we will see, and if it is peaceful, we’ll take it out,” he said.
Still, many shops along the commercial corridor were still open as normal Sunday, without any extra security measures, fences or plywood.
Maggie White, a manager at Overland Sheepskin Co., said the store decided not to board up their large windows. They haven’t had any trouble so far this year, and, once insurance is factored in, the cost of boarding up the windows would be more than the cost to repair them if they’re smashed.
“We’ll just play it by ear,” she said.
Source: Read Full Article