The White House is battening down the hatches for Election Day by erecting a ‘non-scalable’ fence around the perimeter of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Heavy duty barricades spanning roughly 8,800 feet went up on Monday afternoon, blocking off the Ellipse, a large green area south of the White House, and Lafayette Square to the north.
The heavy-duty material used – similar to that used during Black Lives Matter protests in June – is designed to deter climbers with welded wire mesh that’s very difficult to cut and is woven so tightly that it’s nearly impossible to get a foothold.
The potential for election-related unrest, particularly if a result isn’t announced on Tuesday, has also prompted Metro Police in Washington to put 250 National Guardsmen on standby, NBC News reported.
The extensive security measures come as President Donald Trump prepares to hold a massive indoor election night party at the White House.
The guest list for Trump’s party includes 400 of his closest allies, advisers and loyalists.
A massive ‘non-scalable’ fence was erected outside the White House on Monday afternoon in anticipation of Election Day unrest in Washington, DC
A reinforced barrier is seen in an intersection near the White House on Monday afternoon
The barricades are designed to deter climbers if protests erupt on Election Day
Activists have already plastered anti-Trump messages on sections of the fence
Donald Trump (pictured arriving at Cherry Capital Airport in Michigan for a rally Monday night) is planning to hold a 400-person indoor party at the White House on election night
Concerns over Election Day turmoil aren’t limited to the White House, as cities across the country have boarded up shops, storefronts, office buildings, restaurants, hotels, and other properties in anticipation of possible violence.
Polls taken in the days leading up to the election show Trump trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden, though the contest is closer in the competitive states that will decide the outcome.
It is unclear how many results will be known on Tuesday night as experts have speculated it could take weeks to declare a winner, potentially sparking days of protests.
The barricades erected around the White House encompass the Ellipse, a 52-acre park often referred to as ‘the Nation’s front yard’, and Lafayette Square, which has historically been one of American’s most prominent spots for demonstrations.
Crews were instructed to build the additional fencing as the Nation’s Capital braces for election night unrest as results begin to filter in on Tuesday
The fencing encompasses the whole White House complex, including Lafayette Square and the Ellipse
Crews continued working on the White House fence well after sundown on Monday night
Workers line up metal panels while building a fence near the White House on Monday night
Mayor Muriel Bowser said she had not decided whether to use National Guard troops for election-related violence, though some troops still remain activated amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The capital’s Police Chief Peter Newsham has said his entire department will be working on Election Day.
The department reportedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on chemical irritants and other less-than-lethal riot-control munitions after much of the agency’s stockpile was depleted during protests over the summer.
The solid white wall is meant to be ‘unscalable,’ according to White House officials, to act as yet another barrier preventing potential protesters or rioters from reaching the White House
Signs put up near the White House include a reminder that firearms are prohibited on federal property, which it notes is within 1,000 feet from where the lamp pole with the sign was posted
Newsham said there were no ‘credible threats right now of violence’, but said a number of groups had applied for permits to conduct large demonstrations.
‘We ask people if they’re going to come, we welcome people to come here to the District of Columbia to exercise their First Amendment rights, but we are not going to tolerate violence or unrest,’ he said.
Activists in the nation’s capital are banding together for Election Day, pooling resources, running training sessions for demonstrators, forming rapid-reaction teams and organizing events that are expected to draw large crowds.
A collection of groups led by Black Lives Matter and Shutdown DC plan an eight-hour event at Black Lives Matter Plaza, one block from the White House.
It will include a giant screen showing election results, DJs and performances by bands playing Washington’s signature go-go music.
Meanwhile, President Trump is gearing up to host his own soirée inside the White House.
A photographer peeks through signs posted on the fence erected around the White House
The potential for election-related unrest, particularly if a result isn’t announced on Tuesday, has also prompted Metro Police in Washington to put 250 National Guardsmen on standby
Barriers are seen near boarded up buildings at Black Lives Matter plaza on Friday
Establishments in Washington began boarding up their first-floor windows as they prepare for likely violence and unrest on election night
Businesses, office buildings and restaurants put up wooden boards in their windows to prevent them from being damaged during potential riots
A White House official said Sunday that all 400 or so attendees will be tested for COVID-19 prior to the indoor gathering in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – as public health officials recommend all mass events be held outdoors to lessen the risk of spreading the disease.
Biden plans to spend election night in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, his campaign said.
The president’s Tuesday night party was originally supposed to be held at Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, just a few blocks from the White House.
Campaign emails even promoted that donors could enter for a chance to win a trip to attend the party at the hotel where Trump was supposed to make an appearance.
The New York Times, however, reported Friday that the president scrapped plans to show up at his hotel, preferring to watch the returns from the White House.
The East Room, likely where guests will be hosted for the party, is the largest room in the White House mansion.
Despite health officials’ warnings about the risks of large gatherings amid the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, Trump has also continued to bring together big groups of people together for outdoor campaign rallies and events at the White House.
‘So we have a hotel. I don’t know if it’s shut down, if you’re allowed to use it or not,’ Trump said Friday.
‘But I know the mayor has shut down Washington DC. And if that’s the case, we’ll probably stay here or pick another location. I think it’s crazy. Washington DC, is shut down. Can you imagine?’ he said.
Current restrictions in Washington in light of the pandemic prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 50 people.
A number of people who attended the September 26 Rose Garden event announcing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court later tested positive for the virus. The outbreak caused Trump, first lady Melania and their son Barron, among about a dozen others, to fall ill to COVID.
A black chain link fence has been in place for weeks separating people from the White House fence on the Lafayette Square side – and people have put up signs in the fencing calling for Trump’s removal from office