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Government & Politics

Columbus Businesses Board Up Windows As City Prepares for Turbulent Election

Joe Heilbrunn saws boards to cover windows in downtown Columbus.
Nick Evans
Joe Heilbrunn saws boards to cover windows in downtown Columbus in preparation of possible destruction from crowds Election Night and during the following days.

Crews in downtown Columbus made preparations Monday for possible unrest Election Night and the days following.

Across from the Ohio Statehouse, Joe Heilbrunn boarded up a pair of floor-to-ceiling windows on the Huntington Building.

“We’re just cutting them and then screwing it right into the mullions, and hopefully, it will keep people out," he said.

There are another half dozen workers from his company alone doing the same at other buildings downtown. It's an expensive precaution; Heilbrunn says all that plywood adds up quickly.

“You’d have to think up around $10,000, $11,000 or something,” he said. “I mean we’ve already—just these three buildings—we’ve already went through 200 sheets of plywood. We’re probably going to be close to 250 sheets.”

Many, but certainly not all, downtown buildings are taking similar precautions ahead of Tuesday's contentious election.

At OH Pizza and Brew, the boards went up over the weekend. Manager Annetta Smith says she was in the restaurant when a brick came through the windows during this summer’s protests.

She says it took months to replace the windows once they were broken and doesn’t want to see that happen again. Still, Smith said it doesn’t make for a great view.

“Sometimes you see weddings across the street. You can’t see the weddings. Some of our customers that come in here and eat, they’re not able to look outside,” she said. “So it can get a little depressing, a little dark in here.”

A boarded up building downtown.
Nick Evans
A boarded up building in downtown Columbus is ready to withstand possible unrest come Election Night and the days thereafter.

Columbus Police say its planning additional patrols Tuesday and in the days to follow. Public information officer Sergeant James Fuqua says the department has teams ready to manage crowds if there are demonstrations, but he says the response won’t be like it was over the summer, when law enforcement forcefully confronted peaceful protesters downtown.

“We’re not going to be at Broad & High with riot gear or standing there with batons, like we’re not doing that," Fuqua said. "But we do have a group of specially trained officers to help facilitate any crowd management issues, either at a polling location or anywhere else out in public.”

Fuqua also says officers responding to polling locations, should there be any issues, have received specialized training. When it comes to voter intimidation and the possibility of people openly carrying firearms near polling locations, Fuqua says the police are ready and able to handle those issues.
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