Final preparations are underway for a presidential election that few feel confident in predicting the outcome - and with such uncertainty in the air, some are bracing for varying reactions to Tuesday's results.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that there had been no "specific threat" regarding potential violence or unrest over Tuesday's election. But, he said, "We're prepared for anything."
For weeks, he has said any peaceful protests would be respected and facilitated but warned in no uncertain terms that any violence would be stopped immediately. To some degree, he said Monday, it's just too early to tell what could happen. Much more should be known over the course of the evening Tuesday.
Later Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to try to contain their emotions until the final results are in, which he said could take some time "given the unique circumstances of the election." He also emphasized the point de Blasio made earlier in the day -- that protests are fine until people break the law. When that happens, the governor said, enforcement will be done accordingly.
Retailers aren't taking any chances. Some in midtown Manhattan boarded up their windows well ahead of Election Day amid concerns over potential unrest. Experts have said it's unlikely the country has a definitive winner for days or even weeks as mail-in votes are counted. Still, there may be partisan claims of victory. The NYPD anticipates any protests could last into the beginning of next year.
It has deployed officers aplenty and early ahead of what NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea had said would be "one of the most highly contested presidential elections in the modern era" -- and one that may not be decided for weeks.
It's not just NYPD standing at the ready. The Guardian Angels announced over the weekend they would have thousands of volunteers in place across the city for "possible rioting and unrest" that develop on Election Day.
"There is pure hate, the people who support Trump, they hate the people who support Biden and vice versa," said Guardian Angels President and Founder Curtis Sliwa. "More importantly, we know that there are thugs who have no political identity who may take advantage of the situation and riot and loot again as they did in June. We stood in their way in NYC, and we prepared to do it again with our Guardian Angel Chapters nationwide."
During those summer protests over George Floyd's death, stores from Manhattan to the Bronx and Queens boarded up their windows after some fiery nights of vandalism and looting. This time, Macy's boarded up its windows on Friday.
"Our windows at Macy's Herald Square were previously scheduled to be dark next 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 spokesperson for the company said via email.
Not far from the Macy's flagship department store, windows at the T-Mobile store in Times Square were covered with protective plywood by the afternoon. Other shops in the chic SoHo neighborhood, as well as the tourist destination Rockefeller Center, have gone the same route. It's not clear how many stores have taken precautions already, but that number is expected to grow even into Election Day.
Shea said the department has been advising some Midtown businesses to remove their merchandise and other items like chairs, tables, construction barrels and trash cans from sidewalks in order to allow any potential protesters to move unimpeded.
"We're not telling people to board up their stores but we're getting those questions from people," Shea told WCBS 880 on Friday.
Chief Terence Monahan, the highest-ranked uniformed member of the NYPD, echoed those sentiments, and reinforced that the department is ready to handle whatever happens, although wasn't expecting anything in the very near-term.
"We're really confident that we're going to have no issues through Election Day. The day after, there are some nationwide calls to protest, we know it, we will be out there in those protests, to facilitate those who want to peacefully protest," Monahan said.