New York, Nov 3 (efe-epa).- New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea on Tuesday warned that there will be “zero tolerance” on the part of his officers for potential disturbances in the Big Apple after the close of the polling places and with the release of the first voting results, something that numerous establishments have been preparing for by boarding up their shop windows.
“To all New Yorkers, the police officers are out there today in force, they’re going to have zero tolerance for it. I can’t be any more clear than that – zero tolerance,” Shea told the media.
“We’re going to demand that prosecutors hold people accountable. Because when you mess with people’s livelihoods as they have, and they’ve done through a couple boroughs of this city, people cannot just be let go and not prosecuted. They need to face consequences,” the top law enforcement officer said, adding that he understands the position of numerous business owners who have decided to board up or otherwise protect their doorways and windows to prevent a repeat of the wave of looting New York experienced in late June.
In addition, Shea said that “The men and women of the department, they’ll be putting in long hours today across the city. Certainly some unanswered questions in terms of how they’ll be working but we’re prepared, we’re ready and we’re looking forward to it.”
He said that the trouble stems from a few small groups who will “protest the sky being blue,” adding that the NYPD is ready to keep New York streets safe.
“I don’t know that (these groups are) going away anytime soon, I don’t know that they care about who wins this election either, but we’ll deal with them,” he said.
Shea’s announcement came just two hours after the more than 1,200 local polling places opened their doors at 6 am.
First thing in the morning, with the streetlights still lit, long lines were forming in front of certain polling places in New York despite the low temperatures, for instance at Hamilton Grange school in northwest Manhattan and Public School 87 in the central zone, where the line stretched around the block.
Although the start of voting was mostly problem-free, some minor incidents did occur, as at Public High School 7 in Harlem, which opened its doors late after police who had the keys to access the election materials arrived late at the precinct.
The NYPD has deployed officers at all polling places for Election Day and although security forces are saying that no concrete threats have been received so far and they don’t expect any problems in the coming weeks, they also say that they are prepared to deal with them if they arise.
New York Police Chief Terence Monahan said Monday that the NYPD was fully prepared to protect everyone’s right to vote.
The heavy police presence, however, could ratchet up tensions in the Big Apple, where last spring virulent protests and disturbances, with violence against law enforcement forces, erupted after the death of George Floyd, an African American, at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.
In the demonstrations, which lasted for a month, protesters called for cutting funds from the NYPD and numerous violent clashes between police and the public occurred.