Report – Be Prepared: How to Stay Safe Amid Civil Unrest

Making informed decisions to keep you and your family safe if instances of civil unrest and violence develop near you is paramount to your and your family’s health and well-being. The US is experiencing a level of nationwide uncertainty, anxiety, and risk that has not been seen in over 50 years. Unemployment in the US has reached historic highs, meanwhile many states are grappling with when and how to reopen following months-long closures due to COVID. Cities, suburbs, and local neighborhoods are experiencing protests, some violent, in response to the killing of George Floyd.

We are a resilient people, and we will find a way to work through this and grow as individuals and communities. These demonstrations against police brutality and racism are important in that we have a way to express our democratic values. We do not expect civil unrest to be the norm going forward, but it has highlighted that our society is fragile as it pertains to ongoing inequality, racism, and the polarization of wealth.

What we do want to provide are more ways to keep yourself and your families safe if your geographic encounters an instance of civil unrest, riots, or looting. These instances flare up quickly and frequently from inside a peaceful protest. They may be instigated or enhanced by anti-globalist agitators or other criminal elements. Being prepared ahead of time is key to your success.

We offer the following advice in order to stay safe during times of civil unrest, regardless of the origin or location. These recommendations can help you and your family be more resilient during these times of uncertainty.

  • Maintain situational awareness. Know who is around you, where the security forces are, what their intentions may be, and always be aware of your escape routes to safety. Base your decisions in reality.
  • Maintain a low profile in and around protests or demonstrations. It is particularly helpful to avoid heated discussions or argumentative groups as these can quickly turn violent. Dressing in a manner that does not draw attention to yourself or a particular cause is also important in keeping you safe.
  • If violence in your neighborhood is imminent, depart the area via the safest means possible – and be aware that this may not be possible by vehicle.
  • If you expect violence in the coming hours it may make most sense to leave the area and seek calmer neighborhoods or a hotel for the evening, away from the danger area.
  • Some situations will include the imposition of curfews by local governments, the military, or police forces. It is important to adhere to the curfew as violating the curfew may bring attention to you or your location for police action.
  • It is critical to monitor multiple channels of reliable information, do not rely on social media, political websites, or radio shows that tend to spin factual reports in favor of a group, or to further incite violence. Keep a strong grasp on reality, so that you can make well-informed decisions.
  • Only rely on transportation that can be trusted. Ride hailing, unlicensed limousine services, and public transportation may not be safe, and the use of those modes of transport could put yourself in a worse situation than on foot and flexible in your movement.
  • As always you should be prepared to shelter in place if civil unrest persists, with adequate supplies of food, water, medicine, family defense items, and critical supplies for up to 14 days. Keep enough cash on hand, in case banks or ATMs are not available due to restriction of movement of closures. Businesses and important services are frequently disrupted, closed, or looted.
  • If you are in a travel mode, and are away from home it is important to stay closer to areas that you know—the hotel, or other form of lodging are better bets than venturing into parts of town with which you are not familiar.
  • Always have a plan to get out of any situation, and trust your instincts when you begin to feel threatened or scared. Be prepared to defend yourself, or perhaps more effectively to escape the area on foot or by vehicle.

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