Civil or urban unrest, also known as civil disorder or strife, is typically defined by law enforcement as a gathering of three or more people in reaction to an event with the intention of causing public disturbance in violation of the law. Examples include protests, different obstructions, riots, and sabotage.
As what Dennis E. Gale, author of ‘Understanding Urban Unrest’ points out, mob violence mainly by the oppressed is mostly triggered by interracial events.
It is indeed the right of each individual to lift their voice and be heard especially when there’s a rise in inequality, rampant corruption, and slow growth in the economy to mention a few.
Anti-government protests create not only chaos in the streets. In a wider sense, urban unrest can paralyze the nation’s economic growth.
History reminds us of what occurred in Haiti and Chile. The former had a nine-week straight protest against government official corruption, gas shortage, and food scarcity. The oppressed people of Port-au-Prince were mostly behind it. The latter, known as the wealthiest country in Latin America, had protest joined by youth and rural migrants from poor people in Santiago.
What happened in the US recently is not new- evening curfews in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed by a kneel on his neck of an officer and died under police custody. What’s different now is the presence of mobile phones and social media, that spread the information far and wide at alarming speeds.
Whether new or old protests from around the globe, urban or civil unrest is indeed a serious matter. If your household contains children or an older individual, you must know how to stay safe and protect you and your loved ones. Panicking is not an option, as it can create more chaos.
Below are ways on how to remain safe during civil unrest.
When you are in a place where a protest is occurring, here is what you can do:
- Don’t be inquisitive. Your priority is to leave the area as quickly and as safely as possible.
- Don’t expect sympathy just because you caught in the middle – even if your kids are with you, you are elderly or handicapped.
- Maintain a low profile. Do not look or act suspicious.
- When arrested by the police or military, do not resist. Remain calm and know your rights.
When at home, you must:
- Stock enough food, water, and other important supplies like medicines. In short, a basic emergency kit. BUT do not go out to buy more supplies. Order online or ask someone capable to buy for you.
- When hearing gunfire or explosions outside, stay away from the windows.
- Don’t forget about children, the elderly, and pets who might become fearful during the event.
- Stay connected and informed.
- If it is unsafe to stay where you are, seek a place of safety in a less volatile area. Have a go bag with you.
The past and present events of civil unrest echo injustice but we must also remember the extent of damage they caused such as loss of innocent lives and destruction of private properties. A violent act cannot be stopped by violence as well. Of course, we shouldn’t allow inequality to continue, but it should be expressed in a peaceful manner.