A Comment About Racial Injustice
The Twin Cities area has a history of involvement in officer-involved incidents where people of color were victims including Jamar Clark, Philando Castille, George Floyd, and Daunte Wright. Each of these incidents were tragic and indicate a system that is riddled with issues that desperately need to be addressed. I want to acknowledge these people, and others who have fallen victim.
The focus of this blog entry is on how to navigate the civil unrest (including the looting and rioting) that often takes place after the peaceful protests have ended in a given day. Please note that my focus on information gathering during civil unrest is in no way intended to diminish these incidents or downplay their significance.
The Civil Unrest Following Peaceful Protests
Around Memorial Day of 2020, after the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody, my family and I lived 2 miles from the 3rd Precinct--the site of much of the civil unrest. During that time, we learned that information gathering was key in making decisions about the safety of our family. This includes staying out of the middle of a potentially violent crowd, being hit by stray bullets, or being in a place where you're in or near a building that is burning down. Part of my goal is determining when we need to leave the area to make sure that I help keep my family alive and well in the wake of civil unrest following a huge tragedy.
We also realized that we had to work a little harder to get useful information. Now, with the Chauvin verdict looming and concerns about unrest and looting following the death of Daunte Wright, it's a good time to review key ways to gather information when you find yourself in a place that is in a state of turmoil where civil unrest is likely.
Unicorn Riot is an independently run non-profit media organization consisting of artists and journalists. They live stream footage from events while they are happening on YouTube and have additional footage on their website. To see first-hand what is happening at protests, or see an event that started as a protest transform into a riot, we watched Unicorn Riot to see occurrences in real time. It's interesting to see what tactical approach law enforcement is taking as well as the tone of the group. You'll also hear unfiltered audio and commentary by participants and genuine reactions to what is happening. Since coverage on the local news is limited, and may be repetitive, it's helpful to see in-the-moment updates from people who are in the middle of what is happening.
The Citizen app is a helpful tool for keeping track of your location and how close specific activities are. Citizen pops up notices and the location of each activity as it relates to your location. Sometimes, updates and video footage are also included. This is a way to track where things are happening and if specific threats are moving closer to or further away from you. Events like gunshots, carjackings, fires, break ins, or police activity are reported by individuals and include a mile estimate for how close that activity is to you. Events are also updated as more information develops. Citizen also includes more official notices, like curfews on a given night or protests in progress, to help make more informed decisions about whether to stay or go, and what route to use to leave town as needed.
Ring Video Doorbell and Ring Network
The Ring Video Doorbell has a few benefits. For one, you have a recording of any activity outside of the location of your Ring Doorbell using the camera. You can also access a live view to see what is happening in real time. In addition, the members of your Ring network (typically, your neighbors who also have Ring Doorbells) can report incidents based on police reports, recordings from their camera, or their personal observations. Since some issues are self reported, accuracy and usefulness of information may vary. It is a helpful source of information from neighbors and includes details that may not be significant enough to report to the police, but that can influence preparations.
Police Scanner Radio & Fire App
We also used a scanner app to find out about possible issues as they were occurring. We used Police Scanner & Fire App to keep on top of calls made regarding possible crimes in progress and fires. During the Floyd Riots, arson was a huge issue. Since we live in a mixed use neighborhood, and rioters were burning down unoccupied apartments buildings and retail stores, we were keeping an eye on fires and their proximity to our home. We knew that firetrucks were not always able to get to all calls, and we also know that fire can also potentially hop from one building to another. Our goal was to stay ahead of possible fire so we could leave the area before we were in personal danger.
What Do You Think?
How do you gather information during a crisis? Share your thoughts in the comments.
No one wants to be a victim. People talk a lot about self defense--which I usually think of as the ability to defend yourself against an attacker. Ideally, though, we can learn how to prevent many of those situations from becoming physical altercations.
I think it is important to be able to defend yourself. Most self-defense training, though, focuses on the point where you're being attacked, not on ways to prevent an attack from ever taking place. Here, I'm focusing on putting yourself in a position where you can avoid an incident (like being assaulted, robbed or raped) altogether.
As someone who lives in a large city, currently with an increase in crime, and doesn't want to live afraid, I focus on these three concepts for staying out of harm's way: situational awareness, being an imperfect victim and listening to my intuition.
Have Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is a fancy way of saying "pay attention." I'm amazed by the people I see on a regular basis, who seem completely disconnected from the world around them. For many, there seems to be the prevalent attitude that bad things simply will not happen to them regardless of what they do. Being actively disconnected from what is going on around you make you more likely to be assaulted or a victim of theft.
Here's what a lack of situational awareness looks like:
Here's what situational awareness looks like:
Overall, situational awareness is making a little effort to notice your physical environment so that you are in tune with it, instead of constantly surprised by it.
Be an Imperfect Victim
Again, no one wants to be a victim, but many of us do things that make us more likely to be one. Since typically people who are going to rob or rape others are looking for easy targets, being perceived as difficult is a great way to avoid an incident.
Here's what imperfect victims look like:
Imperfect victims also remember their boundaries. Too often, especially as women, we try to accommodate other people's requests because we want to be liked. Remember, though, you don't have to be nice to random people who approach you and demand things from you. You do not have to shake someone's hand, hug someone, or tolerate someone in your personal space. You do not have to give anything to an aggressive panhandler.
Tell people no, and do it loudly if required. Put your hands up between you and them when you say "no" to let them know they really do need to stop. You may even need to yell "Get away from me" loudly to make it clear that they need to give you space. People who speak up are perceived as being more trouble than they are worth.
Listen to your Intuition
You know how sometimes dogs don't like certain people? Or how babies cry and do not want to be held by just anyone? Their intuition is what makes them want to avoid some people. Unlike small children or animals, as adults, we tend to ignore our intuition. This is out of a sense of politeness or fear of being accused of being one of the bad -ists (racist, sexist, elitist). We need to re-learn to listen to our intuition for the sake of our well-being and trust that. This is not about political correctness or offending someone we don't even know. This is about our personal safety in what could be a dangerous situation.
Here are those feelings you need to honor:
Those weird feelings that you can't quite put into words? Listen to them. Remember, sometimes, our bodies figure thing out before our brains catch up. We need to learn to pay attention to our surroundings with our heads, and our bodies, and heed that warning. It will help keep us safe.
What Do You Think?
What safety tips do you have? How do you keep yourself out of harm's way?
Adulting is Hard
One of my goals as a parent is to help prepare my now teenage daughter to be a functional adult who makes good decisions and is happy and healthy. Here are my top 5 focus areas to position her for adulting success.
Tip 1: Plan ahead to avoid creating emergencies.
Tip 2: Take control of your personal safety and security.
Tip 3: Have positive interactions and build healthy relationships.
Tip 4: Attend to your overall health and well-being.
Tip 5: Commit to personal growth and positive change.
What do you think?
What are your top pieces of adulting-related advice? Include your thoughts in the comments.
Brenda is an adaptable learning & development leader, innovative instructional designer, and job search coach.