Bay Area building owners boarding up as Election Day approaches; FBI, local agencies weigh in

As Election Day nears, there is a fear of protests sparking violence among extremist groups.

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ByJ.R. Stone via KGO logo
Friday, October 30, 2020
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As Election Day nears, there is a fear of protests sparking violence among extremist groups. Many Bay Area business owners say they're boarding up their buildings, just in case.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Right now safety protocols are going into place all across the Bay Area as we get closer to Election Day.

Some building owners have boarded up to keep their properties safe.

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There is a fear of protests sparking violence among extremist groups.

The FBI says the San Francisco field office has opened up a command post as a way to better work with local authorities on any problems or issues that may arise.

"I've never experienced something like this in my life," says barber shop owner Ahmet Giftgi.

In the past 24 to 48 hours wood boards have gone up outside numerous buildings in the Financial District of San Francisco. One of many safety measures we're seeing all across the Bay Area as we approach Election Day.

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"We live here we hope that nothing happens we care about local businesses and care about everyone around here," said one San Francisco woman.

"I think a lot of people coming off the George Floyd protest and some of that civil unrest have become sensitive to that and I think that's why we may be seeing businesses and community members boarding up businesses and other structures," says Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

It's unpredictable if violence will break out in any communities across the country before or after Election Day, but in Alameda County Sgt. Ray Kelly says they will be watching the left and right extremist groups after votes are cast.

"We're worried about those extremist groups that actually want to do violence and harm people especially law enforcement officers who are out there doing our job," says Kelly.

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Those with the FBI tell us that their San Francisco Field Office has opened a command center to work with local authorities and the private sector concerning online threats. The biggest problem going into Election Day this year has been disinformation from overseas.

"We saw back in 2016 that it was primarily Russian but now we see China and Iran get into the game so obviously the threat has grown," says Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sanjay Virmani.

Virmani says they are better prepared this time around and they've already taken several online domains down. According to Virmani they "were basically propagating disinformation in the public."

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