A US city has taken ‘very disturbing’ steps to protect itself in the event of violence amid the US election with National Guard troops deployed in Chicago.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker made the decision to prepare for potential election-related civil unrest by stationing the troops at McCormick Place, the largest convention centre in North America.
In a daily briefing in Chicago on the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Pritzker downplayed the move, however it comes after the Guard was deployed in September in fear of violent protests following the fatal police shooting of black medical worker Breonna Taylor.
“We’ve made sure that our National Guard is simply in a state of readiness,” the governor told reporters.
“We did this back during the few days before the ruling around Breonna Taylor.
“We want to make sure that cities, counties that call upon us for help from the state of Illionois, that we have those resources available to them.”
It is not clear just how many troops or what equipment has been dispatched.
City’s move ‘very disturbing’
Some people were alarmed by the scenes of troops surrounding McCormick Place, with one saying it was an unprecedented move for election days.
“What the hell for? Voter intimidation? When was the last time we needed the National Guard for voting day?” one said on Twitter.
“It’s sad that we have to prepare for riots over an election,” another claimed.
“This scares me, makes me think that they already know the results and are preparing for the worst,” a third added.
“Very disturbing,” somebody else said.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot did not request assistance from the National Guard, with a tweet from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications saying it did not make calls for the deployment.
“Similar to past emergency preparedness plans, the state has stationed personnel at McCormick Place to be ready to respond if needed, however, there are currently no plans for them to be deployed,” the tweet said.
Mr Pritzker noted that the Illinois State Police will be on hand, as usual, to intervene if violence erupts as a result of a contentious race for the White House between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Democrat didn’t say whether state police would adjust patrols or make other changes for Election Day and its aftermath.
Chicago braces for potential unrest
Chicago residents are taking matters into their own hands as they prepare for any civil unrest after the election, with several stores boarding up windows in the event of any violence.
According to NBC Chicago, the police department has also set up a business hotline for any business owners who have concerns about their safety.
A spokeswoman from department store Macy’s told NBC it would implement additional security “out of an abundance of caution”.
The mayor urged people to respect fellow residents in what has been an otherwise very difficult year and ordered people to remain calm no matter the election outcome.
“Regardless of what happens, November 3 will be a big day for all of us,” she said.
“And our goal is clear: Keep Chicagoans safe, as we take part in this momentous day.”
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