- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2020

Leftist activists are promising, in plans published online, to wreak havoc in the streets of Washington if President Trump refuses to abide by the results of Tuesday’s presidential election.

The radical groups say they fear Mr. Trump may refuse to leave office and they plan to respond by shutting down the capital and harassing lawmakers returning to the city at train stations and airports — or at their homes.

A Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson said there have not been “any credible threats,” but there will be “officers stationed at polling locations” and “increased patrol” on Tuesday.

The number of officers at each voting site was not specified. Police Chief Peter Newsham said last week that the entire department will be on duty and time off will be restricted in the days after the election.

The anti-Trump group ShutDownDC published on its website its plan to “make sure Trump leaves the White House” and noted that the group started training, researching and organizing several months ago.

The group talks of a three-phase approach to postelection demonstrations.

In phase one, ShutDownDC is calling on activists to gather at Black Lives Matter Plaza next to the White House beginning around 4 p.m.

“Votes will still be coming in, so this will (probably) not be the time we need to create disruption to stop a coup — yet,” reads the plan on ShutDownDC’s website. “But we’ll be in a good place to respond to whatever might happen.”

Fencing was installed around the White House on Monday in preparation for any protests. The “non-scalable” fence is made of the same metal used during protests this summer and will stretch around the Ellipse and Lafayette Square.

Phase two, which runs from Wednesday through Friday, will include mass street demonstrations, with several national organizations converging for marches on Washington.

ShutDownDC said it will shut down the White House on Thursday with caravans of protesters.

“We’re coming by car, by bike, and on foot, and we’re coming in three waves — at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., and 11 a.m.,” said an announcement on the group’s website.

ShutDownDC says it will begin phase three on Sunday. The group labels this phase “No More Business as Usual.”

“The week after the election members of Congress (many of whom will have just been voted out of office) are coming back to DC to go back into session. If Trump is trying to launch a coup, that’s no time for business as usual,” reads the plan. “We’ll meet them at the train station or the airports or if they drive into town we can meet them at their homes. And if Trump has already conceded, then we can pivot and use these actions to demand COVID-19 relief and other essential legislation!”

Alongside law enforcement’s efforts to protect the city, concerned citizens are anticipated to stand against any potential looters and rioters. The Guardian Angels, a group that formed to thwart violence in New York City, plans to dispatch 4,000 members nationwide, including to D.C.

John Ayala, the head of the group’s D.C. presence, said about two dozen Guardian Angels are in the Washington region and he expects six or so to be on hand at polling locations in Southeast.

Mr. Ayala became a Guardian Angel in 1984 and has worked in places such as Chicago, New York City, Puerto Rico and Japan, but he said he has never seen anything like what is happening this year.

“Southeast, there could be some issues. I’ve heard there’s been some issues there in the past, and hopefully we can be there just to make sure everybody’s safe,” Mr. Ayala told The Washington Times. “Our goal here is to make sure nobody gets injured, nobody gets jumped, nobody gets hurt.”

Mr. Ayala said members of his group will not be protecting businesses but will put themselves in harm’s way to protect people. The group plans to be on patrol from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday. Mr. Ayala said they will gauge how and where to respond to unrest throughout the week.

The city issued a traffic advisory for emergency parking restrictions and potential street closures Tuesday for “multiple First Amendment demonstrations.”

If the city needs assistance from the National Guard, Mayor Muriel Bowser said late last month, “we will use them.”

ShutDownDC has advocated for participating activists to be on the lookout for infiltrators who are not committed to their cause. It encourages participants to use encrypted communications and urges activists to “generally avoid calling people by name, unless they have indicated that is OK.”

ShutDownDC, which says it grew out of protests in the summer of 2019, is far from the only group preparing to protest in the nation’s capital.

Others preparing for a doomsday scenario in which Mr. Trump refuses to leave office include a crew of activists and academics known as Choose Democracy.

Group leaders Daniel Hunter and Jenny Marineau Zimmer are urging members to be ready to act quickly. Its website compares their planned action to the 1991 civil uprising in Moscow that put down an attempted coup by communist leaders of the Soviet Union.

“We built Choose Democracy as a short-term platform, not an organization that lasts beyond this moment,” the organizers say on their website. “We focus on ‘What to do if there’s a coup?’ so other groups can keep their focus on other important efforts: voter outreach, preventing voter disenfranchisement, defending vote-by-mail, and making things better whoever wins.”

Choose Democracy’s “coup-o-meter” on its website was fixated on “preparing for a coup” as of Monday. It urges users to sign up for text message alerts to “find out the moment a coup starts.”

In preparation for any unrest, many D.C.-area businesses have boarded up their storefronts.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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