Politics

Cops Dismiss Election Night “Riot” Claims

Despite some conservative warnings, police in major cities say they see no threat of violence come Tuesday night.

The crowd on November 4, 2008, in Chicago’s Grant Park after Barack Obama won the election. Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Officials at law enforcement agencies across the country Monday dismissed warnings on conservative blogs that President Barack Obama’s supporters would resort to violence if he lost the election.

In the final hours of the election, a some conservative bloggers have amassed what they consider growing evidence — mostly tweets sent by young, black people — that Obama supporters will unleash a wave of violence not seen since the OJ Simpson trials if Mitt Romney comes out on top Tuesday.

Last Friday, the aggregation site Twitchy posted a cache of tweets which threatened to protest a Romney win — “If Romney wins, we riot,” reads one from Twitter user @_Swaggerless.

In their post on the tweets, Twitchy added a note warning that “hundreds more were posted prior to today — all of them ignored by a complacent, biased mainstream media.” And even if the threats were made in jest, they said, “our advice: be prepared.”

On the conservative Red State Report — in a post titled “PSA for surviving Election Night Riots” — blogger Matthew Jerome predicted “mass riots” if Obama loses and, if he wins, “another celebration like when OJ Simpson was found not guilty.”

But police department officials in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San Francisco told BuzzFeed Monday night that they had no information that would indicate a need for concern.

“We’re not preparing for civil unrest or rioting or disobedience in the streets,” said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department. “It’s not a situation where we’d have to cancel all leave. Our daily deployment will be enough resources to manage.”

Officer Cleon Joseph, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, said “we are aware that it will be election night,” but added that officers will operate under “normal patrols.”

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department indicated that they were more concerned with making sure ballots were secure — their main charge on election day — than with riot threats. “We secure the ballots when the precincts close and bring them back to the place where they’re counted,” said spokeswoman Susan Fahey. ”

Police in the District of Columbia also said they don’t expect any problems election night.

“The Metropolitan Police Department continuously monitors events locally and nationally in order to maintain awareness of situations that may impact the District of Columbia. Although we don’t anticipate any issues, we have a plan in place and we are prepared for election night,” said Gwendolyn Crump, the director of the Office of Communications for the Metropolitan Police Department.

And Crump should know: Washington is, after all, a majority black city that was affectionately dubbed Chocolate City in the 1970s by musician George Clinton.

To be sure, the jubilant atmosphere that overtook the city after the 2008 election was called for Obama may also be equally unlikely this year. Back then, tens of thousands of residents poured into the streets to celebrate the historic election of the nation’s first black president.

The historic U Street corridor, known as the Black Broadway, became a five block long block party packed with a strange mix of 20-something hipsters, church ladies, police, pimps and college students.

And while Obama’s support in D.C. remains extraordinarily high, enthusiasm in the run-up to this year’s election has been nowhere near as high, and a second term victory would not have the same magical quality that Obama’s first win had.

But Guglielmi in Baltimore added that whenever the city is hosting a special event — whether an election or not — the city’s “intel section works up a write-up or assessment,” he said. “We have a pretty robust intelligence section, and there’s no indication at this point that there’s going to be any disobedience.”

Spokespersons for more cities — Cleveland, Columbus, Miami, Detroit, and Houston — told The Hill last month that they likewise did not anticipate rioting.

In Chicago, where President Obama will be speaking on election night, there may be increased security at the McCormick Place convention center, the site of his campaign’s watch party. Citing unnamed “police sources,” the Chicago Tribune reported the Chicago Police Department had “canceled days off for officers, ordered plainclothes cops into uniform and is scheduling 12-hour shifts for Election Day.”

But a Chicago Police Department spokesman refused Monday night to confirm they had any such plans.

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