People who perceive grievance, injustice, or fear are sometimes compelled into collective action of civil unrest or disorder, even across social stratification of race or class. This breakdown of normal society can lead to riots, violence, criminal activity, or other sorts of disorder. It can happen for a variety of reasons and can happen anywhere. All that is required is enough people to take part, enough to overwhelm the system…at least for a time until armed government officials ultimately suppress it.
Reasons for Civil Unrest
discrimination or oppression of certain groups; election fraud; abuse of power by authorities; growing concern that social liberties are being eroded
economic factors that affect personal security which in turn, promotes more economic insecurity and the cycle continues
disruption of normal life, resource scarcity like food and medicine brought on by supply chain issues, economic impact affecting livelihoods, displacement from homes, real or perceived inadequate government response, increased vulnerability
Responses to Civil Unrest
can include local police, state troopers, and federal law enforcement agencies
can provide security for critical infrastructure, create traffic control points, and respond to fires
use is legal via the Insurrection Act but is the last resort – only when the state cannot manage the breakdown
provides medical aid, fight fires, and assist with evacuations
Understand the Potential
- Always pay attention to news regarding your local community.
- If you know a protest is scheduled, decide ahead of time that you will avoid the area, if possible, as they can quickly turn violent.
- Never travel alone and always let people know where you are going.
- Avoid confrontational gatherings.
- Have plans in place and supplies gathered that can help see you through – see next.
Make Safety Plans
Here are some plans to make now that will help you and your family during civil unrest that affects you.
Get Out of Harms' Way
Your safety is your responsibility. If you find yourself in the middle of a civil unrest situation, consider following these tips to help you stay safe.
- Don’t panic and remain calm.
- Don’t get involved.
- Keep your loved ones close – don’t let them out of site.
- Look around and prepare an escape route. Move away from the area of unrest as calmly and quickly as possible.
- Drive carefully and, if possible, avoid active areas of unrest and heavy traffic.
- If you can’t drive away completely, drive to a safe enclosed area and stay there, remaining in your car until the unrest subsides.
Most experts agree that the safest place to be during a civil unrest incident is inside your house. Don’t delay getting home if you’re out.
- Staying home keeps you out of the chaos and allows you to defend your property.
- Don’t go back out to find out what’s happening.
- Don’t leave for supplies – stock needed supplies, so you won’t have to.
- Bring your pets inside until the trouble is over. If it’s unsafe for you to be outside, it’s unsafe for your pets.
In the mass confusion of civil unrest, timely information could save your life. It's important to stay informed as to what is happening outside your home.
- Sign up for alerts & notifications ahead of time.
- Watch your local news so you can get up to the minute information.
- Always evaluate what you see and hear using the alerts, notifications, and new broadcasts to determine if you are safe or need to get out.
- The need to evacuate may not be determined solely by these methods. Be ready to use your senses and by-the-minute personal experience to determine your course of action.
Don’t Get Caught in the Middle
Guilt by association
If you are amongst a rioting crowd, regardless of your intentions, you will be treated like everyone else in that group.
- If they get tear-gassed, so will you. If the crowd is violent, you will be considered violent and dealt with accordingly.
- Legally, you are guilty if you are part of a group that is violent.
- Go home.
Don't become a victim
- If you find yourself near a mob-like situation, try and evade as fast as possible.
- If they are trying to attack you, don’t be polite.
- If they’re trying to rob you, throw whatever it is they want in the opposite direction and run – making as much noise as possible.
Steps to Take if You're Affected
- Seek medical assistance immediately if you have suffered any type of injury.
- Reach out to family and friends and let them know where you are and that you're okay.
- Report any personal injury or property damage to the police and obtain a report reference number.
- Report any damage to your insurance company where applicable.
- Don't overlook seeking emotional help if necessary.