Peaceful protests are the norm and usually never escalate to anything but. However, when tension escalate, small businesses, shoppers, and staff get caught in the cross hairs of angry protesters. What can follow is looting, property damage, and possible injuries to bystanders. Business owners want to keep their property, patrons, employees, and themselves safe and out of harm’s way. To accomplish this, they must be prepared in the event that a peaceful protest erupts into turmoil and chaos.
A majority of the time, protest organizers are required to get a permit before demonstrating publicly. They also advertise those event to gain traction and increase the number of attendees. Most, if not all, use social media or the internet in general as a mans to spread awareness about the event. Some organizers spread flyers and poster to announce when and where a demonstration will take place. Keep up to date on local events to being preparing ahead of time. If you aren’t able to stay informed, you can pre-emptively prepare by gathering tools and materials ahead of time.
Reduce Building Weaknesses and Vulnerabilities
It’s important to determine what makes your storefront the most vulnerable. A few examples include:
- Large windows
- Glass doors
- Absence of gates
- Back or side doors
- Flammable materials
- Sprinkler or fire systems
Invest in a good alarm and camera system. Cameras will capture illegal activities as they take place. They may also serve as evidence should the store owner choose to take legal actions against looters.
Keep plywood boards on hand to cover windows of glass doors to restrict access. Better yet, install metal bars and grills as they are more secure and aren’t flammable.
Hire a Security Guard
A security guard (or officer) will have a presence that will make rioters and looters think twice before entering a property. An armed guard will add an extra layer of protection to the store and it’s inhabitants. Customers may also feel safer with a guard on duty.
Close Up Shop
If you are aware of an upcoming demonstration, and are fearful of it escalating, consider closing shop for the day. Move or store your most valuable merchandise and cash in a separate location until things die down. You can also adjust your store hours to minimize the risk of loss or injury.
Post signs on your store front that cash and other merchandise have been removed from the property.
Call the Police
If trespassers won’t leave the property, call the police. A police officer has legal authority to remove trespassers from your property.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Make sure your insurance policy includes coverage for property damage incurred during a protest. Meet with your insurance agent to verify this information. You may be able to take legal actin if video footage reveals the identity of the looters.