Peaceful assembly is a time-honored and Constitutionally-protected right in the United States, and many Americans have exercised that right in recent weeks.
While the majority of protests have been peaceful, some have attracted participation by a few violent outliers. The activities of these few have disrupted otherwise peaceful actions, threatened public safety and resulted in property damage.
What can you do to keep your facility, staff and customers safe in the event of a public protest? Here are a few steps you can take:
Review emergency plans. You’ve probably got plans in place for tornados, fires and active shooters, but do you have a plan in place for protests? Plans should include key staff members, emergency exit routes, communication channels and more. Local law enforcement and insurance carriers are good resources for developing plans.
Review your insurance coverage. Does your coverage extend beyond property damage? Do you need a rider to cover damage to special features like plate glass? Does your coverage include business interruption? Nailing down these details now, especially if your facility or one nearby is likely to be the object of a protest, could potentially save you a lot of headaches and expense later.
Review security equipment and systems. Do security cameras cover all building access points? Are they vulnerable to tampering? Does your system allow secure remote access and monitoring? Are storage systems adequate? Keep in mind that you may not lose access to your facility, and may not regain access for some time. Being able to keep an eye on activity remotely and capture data might be essential.
Review social media and news coverage. Maintain situational awareness online. Follow protest hashtags, and watch conversations for indications that protests may shift from peaceful to violent. Know how you can contact law enforcement quickly in event of an emergency.