Civil disturbances and public protests are becoming semi-regular parts of sporting or entertainment events. Many groups with varying causes are putting their platforms in the public view through large gatherings that draw significant crowds. The groups want to be heard and seen so that they can then spread their beliefs and inform others that may not be aware. These demonstrations can range from very mild and tame to the other extreme of pushing to the edge of a riot.
As an event manager there is a need to pre-identify and recognize when there is a potential for these protests or demonstrations to take place at your venue. Along with identifying the potential for the demonstrations, there is then a need to put in place policies, procedures, and other systems to control or monitor the situations as they develop. There is a need to be proactive to handle the situations as effectively and efficiently as possible.
While many of the protests or different activism groups are not directly related to the event, there are many different ways to stay informed and proactive. Some of the ways include:
• Leveraging social media for situational awareness
• Work with fusion centers and local authorities to improve knowledge of individuals and groups participating in protests
• Engage with campus student organization(s) and Dean of Students to learn more about the protest and the protesters
• Build relationships with students and protest leaders prior to the protest
• Explain boundaries and establish expectations • Gain knowledge on the purpose or cause
• Train public safety staff on de-escalation techniques.
Being proactive with the various techniques will allow for more effective control of each demonstration. One of the key techniques is setting the boundaries and expectations for each group. These boundaries should be written into a policy and stay consistent with all groups. The need for consistency will reduce the possibility of various groups feeling like they aren’t receiving the same opportunities as others. After the expectations have been given to the groups this will allow for the demonstrations to potentially be shut down if the Code of Conduct is not followed. This Code of Conduct could be something that is already in place for the event and shared with individuals not familiar with the policy. Should something like a field/court/stage incursion occur by one of the individuals, venue security should take action that is consistent with the venue intrusion policy. The ability to stay consistent with policies will reduce other backlash after events.