Protests can be scheduled or completely random and both can have a serious impact to one’s safety.
Scheduled and typically nonviolent protests;
If one pays attention on who is organizing or may be participating in an event, it will provide you with much needed decision making information.
Example: Scheduled protest is from a group or cause, not usually associated with acts of violence. Perhaps a women’s day event to raise awareness over salary rates. This is not going to typically see the same disturbance as one may notice by 99%, environmental, political or police brutality type protests.
These types of protests typically last a few hours, are nonviolent and can be easily accommodated. You may simply need or want to stay a few hours longer at the office, or if you have other commitments, you simply leave work early that day and avoid all the drama associated with traffic jams etc.
Organized and almost always violent type protests:
The types of protests or other acts of civil disobedience that are much harder to predict or manage are those from groups known for their moderate to severe acts of violence. The protest may start off with a peaceful march down a street, but suddenly windows, doors, cars or people start to become targets. Cars may even be over turned with occupants in them, buildings looted or fire bombed. If you are trapped in traffic, your condo, office or between meetings it can be extremely terrifying.
Just because you are ten blocks away does not mean that you are out of danger. If the crowd changes direction due to police roadblocks etc, you can find yourself right in the middle of it within 5 minutes. As well as that scenario, other protests can also erupt in support of the event on the other end of town. This is where your situational awareness skillsets and what you have with you will become extremely important.
Random but suddenly extremely violent riots;
You are at the office or downtown when a riot breaks out over a police shooting etc. Riots can become serious within 15 minutes and after a few hours can impact the entire downtown core. With social media, you can have people popping out onto the streets in a multitude of locations and the police will not be able to handle it. If you act quickly and choose your routes wisely, you can usually get out of the city fairly quick, but if you hesitate, you can easily find yourself spending the night at the office etc. The only question then is, are you prepared?
Terrorist type event:
Sudden, certainly violent and disruptive. 911, Boston Marathon bombers, San Bernardino etc., all demonstrate the types as well as the levels of damage or chaos they generate. So far, we have not witnessed any attack on our power grid or other major infrastructure, but the day it does occur may have an impact ever greater than 911.
So what can you do to help mitigate any of the above?
1.Remain as calm as you can. Focus and every time you feel yourself panicking, refocus and regain control of yourself. I know, easier said than done but it is essential.
2.Be alert. Where is the threat coming from? Smoke, sounds of gun fire or explosions. Are they getting closer to you? Paying attention to the issue at hand and not worrying about others or what it may mean in a week from now, will enable you to make an informed decision.
3.Being prepared in advance with the essentials will help determine your next course of action. If all you have is a N95 mask and your phone, can you outrun the chaos or do you seek shelter? If you are in your office and have your 24 or 72 hour kit, is it safer to shelter in place or can and should you leave with it.
4.Gather as much Intel as you can during the event and continually reassess your situation. Initial Government broadcasts are usually outdated, try and put on a positive spin and are typically of little value in the first 5-30 minutes. Listen to different sources of media and call people who may be near the protest and get their “eyes on” the ground report on direction of travel, looting etc.
5.Remaining at your location or fleeing to a safer location is a decision only you can make. You may be influenced by friends, coworkers and strangers alike, but it is ultimately your decision. Having a plan and some of the essentials with you, will go a long way in that decision process and ultimately your safety.
Remember, our site should not be viewed as leaning right or left. If a dam has broken upstream, there is a terrorist attack or the riots are socially motivated, it matters not. Everyone can debate who is at fault once you are safe and sound. Your goal is to remain safe, help others and let loved ones know you are ok.
For those interested in a plan that addresses your personal or corporate requirements, we do offer a full suite of security consulting services and we would be pleased to discuss them with you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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