A Comment About Underlying Reasons for Protests and Civil Unrest
The Twin Cities area (Minneapolis and St Paul, MN) has a history of involvement in officer-involved incidents where people of color were negatively impacted including Jamar Clark, Philando Castille, George Floyd, Winston Smith, Daunte Wright, and more. Each of these incidents were tragic and indicate a larger societal and systematic issues that desperately need to be addressed. Know that my focus on navigating possible civil unrest is not intended to dismiss these tragic events.
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 two 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 out of harm's way in the wake of the aftermath of this type of a tragedy.
We also realized that we had to work a little harder to get useful information. Now, with the tragic death of Amir Locke, 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 may be likely.
Unicorn Riot on YouTube
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.
Snack Squad on YouTube
Snack Squad is similar to to Unicorn Riot. They also live stream footage from events while they are happening on YouTube. Depending on what all is happening, and in which locations in the US, both channels may have broadcasts from the same event, broadcasts from different events, or no live broadcasts at all.
The Citizen app is a helpful tool for keeping track of what is going on near you in real time. Citizen pops up notices and the location of each activity and it's distance from your current location. You can also specify a different address to get a perspective on what is happening close to anther 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.
The Ring network is also likely to report a steady stream of package stealing porch pirates, dudes checking car doors, and weirdos cutting through their yards at 2 am.
Police Scanner Radio & Fire App
We also used a scanner app to find out about possible issues as they were occurring. We used the 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. Information gathered here was a useful addition to individuals making reports.
Mike Treat is the Owner and Chief Instructor at Condition Orange Preparedness.