05:59 GMT30 November 2020
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    Preliminary results from the US national elections won’t begin to be announced for several hours, but a crowd has already gathered outside the White House in Washington, DC, which has been fortified ahead of the vote.

    Performers danced, speakers boomed with music, and preachers spread the religious word at Black Lives Matter Plaza on the District of Columbia’s 16th Street NW on Tuesday afternoon as the protest site began to rapidly fill with demonstrators.

    A large section of downtown DC has been closed to vehicular traffic for two days amid widespread expectation of mass demonstrations. Likewise, the White House has erected “non-scalable” steel fences around the entire perimeter similar to those put up during the militant demonstrations that erupted in May and June, and some area shops have boarded up their windows.

    The fence around Lafayette Park, which sits between the White House and Black Lives Matter Plaza, has remained intact since those protests, erected in the days following US President Donald Trump’s violent eviction of peaceful protesters from the public park.

    According to the New York Times, the first polls in the US’ Eastern Time Zone will begin closing at 6 p.m. local time, while some polls on the nation’s Pacific coast, three hours behind the Atlantic side, won’t close until 11 p.m. local time - by which time it will be 2 a.m. in Washington, DC.

    While thousands of national guardsmen have been mobilized or placed on standby across the country over fears of violence during or after the election, there have been no specific threats in the District of Columbia, and the city’s guardsmen have not yet been mobilized, local authorities have said.

    "We are not on any standby status; however, we continue to stand ready should a request [be] approved," Capt. Tinashe Machona, a spokesperson for the DC Guard, told Military.com on Tuesday.

    “The city has indicated that they are not expecting to have any protest or violence or any kind of incidents in the city,” Leona Agouritis, the executive director of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District that operates much of the capital city’s downtown area, including Black Lives Matter Plaza, told WTOP last week.

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    Tags:
    US Election 2020, demonstrations, White House, Black Lives Matter
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