What Would You Do? How to Stay Safe if a Demonstration Happened

It’s Labor Day weekend, and your family is driving out of town to honor the holiday. As you approach your destination, you see a demonstration is happening on the streets. As you travel further, the crowds get larger and larger.

Now, police are directing cars off the highway and instructing them to take city streets. The problem is that you and your family are not sure how to get to your destination by driving through the city. However, believing you are moving in the right direction, you turn, and within a couple of blocks, your car is surrounded by protesters.

At first, the protesters appear peaceful. Many are just sitting on the street and sidewalks. But then, the police start firing tear gas into the crowd. Now you and your family are genuinely concerned. Even worse, tear gas has penetrated your car.

So, we ask again, what would you do?

To help answer this question, we asked an artificial intelligence system for suggestions if caught in a demonstration. Among them are the following:

  • Stay in your car, “even if it means sitting in the car for hours.” (The AI system apparently did not consider that the tear gas was entering the car.)
  • Get out of the car immediately and run from the crowd.
  • Run away from the crowd, but first steer your car into a parking lot or alley to protect the vehicle.
  • If you see the police, force your way through the crowd and tell them of your predicament.
  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Stay in your car and start singing songs with your children. This will make them feel safer until the protests end.

These AI suggestions make some sense, and some readers may even believe they are good ideas. However, for many security consultants and risk management professionals, these suggestions have serious shortcomings. In fact, they may put you and your family at much greater risk.

Here are what TAL Global security professionals recommend if caught in a demonstration:

  • Be aware of current news about your destination before you travel. Just as you might check the weather at your destination, check to see if things sound normal—no violence, no protests.
  • If a demonstration is taking place, find out where it is happening so you can avoid it.
  • Listen for news updates as you travel.
  • Do not travel alone; take someone with you. That way, you can operate as a team and look out for each other. (However, this does not apply if traveling with your family, as in the scenario above.)
  • If you are caught in a crowd of demonstrators, try to stand against a wall and stay there until it is safe to leave.
  • When leaving the situation, do not run, as you will draw attention to yourself. Walk away and look for a doorway, alley, or place to hide.
  • Be aware that if you stay and arrests are being made, you risk being arrested and considered part of the protest.
  • If arrested by police, do not resist. Go peacefully. You can explain your predicament later to the police or a judge. Should you resist, you may be charged with a crime.
  • If there is gunfire, drop to the ground, cover your head, and lie as flat as possible.
  • Beware that protests and demonstrations do not have set patterns, such as a beginning or an end. They can start peacefully and become violent; they can begin peacefully and remain peaceful; or they can start violent, stay violent, or turn peaceful.

Now, we have one more question for you: why are we discussing this?

Although TAL Global has always been nonpolitical, like most of us, we are aware of the political tensions in our country. That’s why we tell all our clients to stay alert and stay safe. Right now, this is some of the best advice we can offer anyone.

TAL Global Staff



© TAL Global, 2019