U.S. elections took place Tuesday, 3 November, with many states still counting mail-in ballots. This election remains highly contentious and carries with it the potential for violence and civil unrest. Major cities across the U.S. and U.S. interests abroad may be targets of violence and unrest.
Our continued concerns range from isolated incidents to an extended period of mass protests, violent confrontations between counter-groups, and widespread property damage if the outcome of the election remains unclear, hotly contested or “undesirable”. Extremist groups have been especially vocal regarding election-related violence on various internet platforms.
Locations that have seen heightened tensions or previous violence this year carry a high probability of experiencing large-scale demonstrations which could easily lead to violence. To date, demonstrators and counter-groups have gathered at ballot counting locations as well as major cities.
The Justice Department has been planning since early October to station officials in a command center at FBI headquarters to coordinate a federal response to any disturbances or other problems with voting that may arise across the country.
• Protests or demonstrations, especially near government buildings, ballot counting locations and city centers
• Presence of counter protesters
• Large groups of people which may increase tensions
• Disruptions to public transportation and businesses where protests are being held
• Travel disruptions due to increased traffic congestion and blocked roads
• Increased presence of security, law enforcement, media and other personnel
• Possibility of extended violent protests, both planned and spontaneous
• Increased incidents of disinformation, misinformation and scammers taking advantage of U.S. election tensions by both foreign and domestic actors
Mitigating Factors to Apply:
• Avoid large crowds, which have the possibility of turning violent and may also serve as a catalyst for COVID-19 spread
• Avoid movement after dark and near downtown areas and any locations regularly used for protests, marches, demonstrations, etc.
• Avoid retail locations which may serve as targets for looters, especially after dark
• Should you choose to protest, maintain active situational awareness and remain alert to sudden changes that could impact your safety
• Practice social distancing and wear a mask when distance cannot be maintained and/or in confined spaces
• If detained, adhere to the instructions of local authorities
• Abide by local laws and restrictions
• Allow extra time for travel
• Avoid travel after dark, when civil unrest tends to escalate
• Prepare for disruptions caused by protests
• Monitor local and social media for updates and verify the accuracy of information reported
• Assess your risk:
o Assess your location: home, work, etc.
▪ If you live in a high risk area (historic civil unrest locations, high crime areas, near ballot counting locations, downtown areas, etc) consider relocating for a short period of time or prepare to remain inside for several days.
▪ Have a plan in place in case of an emergency (building of residence or work damaged, fire, smoke, etc) and you have to leave quickly.
o Assess your travel
▪ Does your commute bring you near or through high risk areas ?
o Avoid travel through high risk areas (even if only on the outskirts). Opt for travel on bypasses around cities, for example.
▪ Plan more than one route for your commutes.
▪ Make sure someone always knows where you are, where you plan on going and what time to expect you there.
▪ Pre-program the non-emergency numbers for the local police and fire and rescue in your phone
▪ Always call 9-1-1 if you find yourself in an emergency situation
DISCLAIMER and Hold Harmless
Disclaimer: LSDS™ gathers information from multiple sources and offers insight and perspective to travelers. Sources cannot be validated for accuracy in every instance. Travelers assume all risk associated with their travel and are responsible for the decisions associated with travel and for their own safety. Users of this reference document agree, to hold harmless LSDS™ (LLC) its employees and clients associated with any risk or injury incurred during travel.