Michael Williams stepped out of his apartment in downtown Long Beach on Monday to buy a couple of midday Red Bulls for himself and his girlfriend. He was unsettled, thinking of an image he saw on Twitter of a man waiting for election results holding an AK-47. Now he noticed the streets were eerily empty — and the shopkeepers were boarding up for election day.
He watched in disbelief and texted photos to his friends in North Carolina. “This is disturbing,” he recalled thinking.
In this historic year of plague, fire and unrest in California, the notion that the United States electoral process could devolve into disarray and violence has cranked up the anxiety even more, with people hoarding food, some buying their first guns, others stocking up on ammunition.
The sound of that tension could be heard from Rodeo Drive to Santa Ana in the rattle of compressors and the thwack-thwack of nail guns. Thick plywood was going up over shop windows and doors, just as it was in San Francisco and San Diego, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami and Dallas, as if the entire nation were bracing for a single enormous hurricane.
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