Updated: Jan 26, 2021
History has shown us that when groups merge in an area to gather for a protest an element of that group may use every excuse to cause violence, damage, and destruction. The herd mentality is a real thing and when one person is able to cause unimpeded destruction another is sure to follow. When that happens you are sure to have uncontrollable and chaotic mayhem. Many unsuspecting business owners and employees go to work not expecting a pack of humans to destroy their workplace and steal the assets of the business. The businesses that seem to lose the most are those with the large storefront windows and merchandise on display. However, if you throw fire into the mix no business or residence in the area is safe.
It is impossible to predict when a riot will occur or which business will be targeted but if a large gathering is happening nearby and the reason for the gathering or protest is emotionally charged then you should prepare for the chance that things may turn ugly and fast. Because of this uncertainty you need to be ready at all times for potential dangerous situations and events that can put your business at risk.
Conduct a vulnerability assessment of your business. Ask questions; where are you the most vulnerable? Walk through your business and the neighboring businesses as well. Is there an exit (escape) route that can take you to safety? Where are you and your employees most at risk? Are there weaknesses in your security? Cameras, alarms, and locks should all factor in on your assessment. If you haven't thought about it do so now.
Remove the money from the premises. This will minimize your losses and allow you to maintain some financial integrity if your business becomes a target. The merchandise in the business will likely be stolen or damaged during the chaos. The surveillance system recording should be secured in a way that it likely won't be damaged even if the cameras are damaged.
Do not attempt to handle rioters or looters on your own. You run the risk of seriously injuring yourself or others. If someone else gets hurt because of your actions you could find yourself in legal trouble. Keep a good first aid kit in your business as well. If you've been able to forecast possible problems you may consider hiring security to guard your premises. Look for a security service that is trained and experienced in handling situations such as looters and riots because the wrong security could open you up to liability also.
Now I didn't go right to calling 911 because let's be honest, depending on the situation, emergency personnel may be too busy or simply can't get to your location because of the violence and chaos. However, your local officials can give you guidance and educate you on proper response protocols and perhaps provide you with a list of resources. If you need guidelines contact someone now.
Remember stay safe and be vigilant.