The death of an African-American by the name of George Floyd on May 25 sparked racial unrest in many parts of the United States. People took to the street to protest what they see as race-provoked violence against a man of color. Thousands of people join the protests called the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. But while Floyd’s death pushed people—even influential ones—to speak up on systematic race, it also brought forth a surge of violence—looting, vandalism, property damage, and more.
That’s not to say that the movement instigated the vandalism and looting, but some people took advantage of the protests to escape criminal liabilities. In Minneapolis, where the killing of Floyd happened and protests started, the city recorded over $55 million of damages. The protests destroyed at least 22 property buildings, including that of a police department. But these figures are from June. The numbers will go up, officials believed.
These incidents forced businesses to take a look at how they can protect themselves against movements and unrest. What should you do when your store is in trouble because of civil unrest? Where does your business stand legally when it comes to looting caused by politically motivated protests?
Talk to a Legal Expert
By now, you should realize the importance of having a lawyer for your small business. You don’t need to keep one on retainer, but it would help if you know someone who you can talk to in case your physical store is caught in the middle of civil unrest. What are your options? Can you sue the protesters or the police officers for failing to protect your business?
Make sure you get the right information from trusted news sources. Social media is also a good tool where to get your news from, though check if the pages you follow are posting legitimate news sources. Staying informed will get you on top of things. You will know what to expect and how to prepare your business for it. Leaders of the movement post the schedule of protests on various social media pages. Keep yourself up to date.
Do you have security cameras? How about the locks on your doors? Do you have a safety security box where you can store your most important inventory? Perhaps, you can even move some items into your own home if there is a scheduled protest during the weekend. Fill in the gaps in security measures before you leave your shop for the night. Monitor the happenings on social media, so you have a better idea of what might happen to your shop.
Invest in Security Measures
Your business should be adequately protected by security measures such as cameras, alarms, locks, and motion-sensing lighting. Whether or not there are protests that could turn violent in your streets, consider all security measures that will benefit your business. You should invest in automated security systems such as glass-breaking sensors that will alert the police. You can also consider hiring security guards to keep your shop safe.
Protect Your Employees
Consider closing down for that day and boarding up doors and windows properly. Likely, customers won’t come near your location if there is a protest there. If it’s scheduled, inform your customers through social media that you will close your shop that day. If it is not, consider closing early while protesters and police officers are still on the other side of town. Your employees are the most important assets of your business. Never forget that even in the haste of getting your products to a safe place.
Consult With Local Authorities
Reach out to local authorities and the police about your concerns over your safety and the security of your business. Perhaps they can close down the street so that the protests—violent or not—will not reach your store. Most local authorities will provide information and a guide to businesses affected by any scheduled protests. Make sure to follow the advice of your local authorities.
The ultimate protection against any unrest and calamities is insurance. Make sure your business has the right insurance to give your business and employees the protection they need. Read up on different policies, ensuring you have the right to make claims when street riots vandalize and destroy your property.
Always keep yourself informed about what’s happening in your street. Whether these are parades, protests, or festivities, there is always the risk of your business falling victim to unscrupulous individuals. It is your job to protect your business and employees no matter the circumstances.