As I drove to work in D.C. on Monday morning, I noticed the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ headquarters’ ground floor windows were all boarded up. Curious what the rest of the city looked like, two of my colleagues and I hopped in the car and took a drive through the nation’s capital.
We started on H Street, a popular strip of restaurants and stores in the city, and slowly made our way over to the White House.
I was expecting to see a few businesses with plywood over their windows but I did not anticipate to see what could be described as a city preparing to come under attack.
Everywhere I looked, from the McDonald’s restaurant a few blocks from the White House to the Walgreens drug store in Chinatown, there were boards covering glass windows.
Workers were busily installing the plywood and reinforcing many of the boards with two-by-four lumber.
I live outside the District, in Northern Virginia, but my colleague Lauren Evans, Heritage Foundation’s multimedia manager and co-host of “Problematic Women” podcast, lives in the city. She said she honestly was not surprised to see businesses bracing for the worst after the unrest that took place in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.
“This summer, when there were riots in the city, I walked around those same parts of town, and those same buildings were boarded up,” Evans said.
What would have appeared bizarre only a year ago now feels somewhat normal to locals.
In the days following George Floyd’s death on May 25, rioters flooded the streets of D.C., burning cars, buildings, and American flags. They bashed windows and looted shops in the streets not far from the White House.
“It’s a sad fact that boarding up businesses seems like a norm in D.C.,” Evans told me after our drive through the city.
Sadly, the nation’s capital is not the only city bracing for violence after the election. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and others are anticipating rioters will become violent even as election results begin to roll in.
Speaking as a millennial, I am both angered and heartbroken by what I see. My generation can do better than this.
So many of those wielding baseball bats to break windows and steal whatever they can from businesses claim to be standing for justice— for a better world. They have bought into a lie.
Violence and hatred will only reap more of the same.
Much of America’s future may depend not only on the results of the election, but also upon how we as a people choose to respond to those results.