Written by Katie Moser, FEI Network Operations Specialist

According to the First Amendment of the Constitution, we as Americans have the right to conduct peaceful, public assemblies. However, what happens when these assemblies are no longer peaceful? Civil unrest.

In recent years, there have been riots in countless cities across the U.S. This prompted me to start thinking, “What would I do if I found myself caught in a riot?”

Due to rising tensions throughout the country—and even the world—riots can break out anytime, anywhere. Yet, there are some events with higher potential. Controversial legal decisions and high-profile political appearances, to name a few, might spark civil unrest. Avoiding these kinds of gatherings is one way to guarantee safety.

If you do find yourself caught in an area where a riot is beginning to break out, try to assess the situation as quickly as you can. Are you in any immediate danger? Where are your escape routes? One of the most critical tips for protecting yourself in a riot situation is to be situationally aware. Additional steps to consider for safely and quickly removing yourself from a riot can include the following:

  • If you have a route out of the area, take it immediately. Walk quickly, but do not run.
  • Blend in with the crowd—you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. Stay calm and quiet.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and find the best escape route. Move to the sides of the crowd if possible, as this will decrease your chance of being knocked down and trampled.
  • Don’t get caught up in the chaos. It’s natural to want to see what’s happening, but standing around can get you hurt. Get home safely and turn on your local news for information.
  • Due to the chaotic nature of rioting, law enforcement has no way of distinguishing between innocent bystander and threat. Use caution if approaching law enforcement.

The world is in the midst of worrying times and it’s possible that peaceful protests might erupt into civil unrest, causing devastation and loss of innocent lives. Knowing these awareness tips to keep yourself safe could help save your life.