North Carolina small businesses worry about possible Election Day unrest

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Entire blocks of downtown Raleigh remain boarded up with plywood. It was recently put in place last Friday when people thought there may be a large protest. Even though it never came to fruition, business owners feel there is a good reason to keep up the extra layer of protection.

"Honestly, we're concerned about both sides acting out at this point," said Rocket Fizz Candy Shop manager Blake Sleypease.

Sleypease and some other small businesses are concerned Election Day could lead to unrest and vandalism.

"I think it could be bad. I really, really do," said Sleypease.

Some of the businesses have had to deal with the aftermath of protests earlier in the year. Though many of the marches were peaceful, during some of them, small crowds broke out and caused destruction to buildings.

"We had tear gas thrown through our window. We had to board up for a while. It was not a fun night," said Sleypease, referring to one of the nights of the George Floyd demonstrations.

Other businesses are keeping their boards up until after the election, including City Market, Clyde Cooper's, and the building that houses Slice Pie Company.

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As of Monday, ABC11 is not aware of any large-scale organized demonstrations.

The Raleigh Police Department said in a statement:

"Officers will provide security, crowd control and traffic direction as the situation merits. The overall goal is to ensure the safety and preservation of life while facilitating First Amendment rights of those who peacefully assemble to express their views."

Police are encouraging business owners and downtown residents to take the following precautionary measures:

  • Ensure doors and points of entry are secure
  • Enable security cameras and alarms
  • Make sure exterior lighting is adequate
  • Conceal/remove valuables so they are not plainly visible
  • Remove and secure window displays at night
  • Call 911 immediately to report a crime or the suspicion of a crime
  • Remove outside furniture and other potentially unsafe items nearby
  • Be alert to potential danger. If it doesn't look or feel right, leave
  • Walk with a group or friend; choose well-lit and most traveled routes
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