I start this post off with a disclaimer about politics; my own personal politics in no way shade this post. While I have my own personal beliefs, they are like most of you that they exist somewhere in between the extremes of the two-party system we have here in the US. With all this being said, I firmly believe that everyone should partake in the political process, which most importantly means to go vote if you have the opportunity to. It’s the best way to be a part of the conversation about our future!
As we head into a presidential election year, many more people will participate in various political events around the country this year than during those other three years in between the presidential election years. Some are excited about a candidate they’ve long supported; others may be wading in to find out for themselves about particular candidates. It’s the process we’ve been repeating for almost 250 years!
First off, something that should seem obvious, but I feel it needs to be stated. Events that took place around the US Capitol around January 6, 2021 are dangerous, illegal and should be avoided at all costs. People were injured and even gravely harmed. As an organization that takes safety so seriously, it’s our middle name, this is not the kind of event we will ever agree with. No matter your political affiliation or grievance, if you are at an event where you can actively see laws being broken by the participants, our only advice is to leave immediately and make your way to safer ground.
Unfortunately, we can’t ignore the many ways political events have become more dangerous recently. With a highly charged political climate and partisanship making people even more divided, the fervor that some events will create could easily inspire some people to make very poor decisions. Since this is a sad reality of our current world, here are a few pieces of advice:
Examine the venue with a critical eye
Oftentimes, political events need to be able to line up a venue on very short notice. This can lead to some creative and interesting choices. Most of the time, the venues are fine. However, beware when the venue doesn’t feel right or safe. Many times, political organizations will repurpose something into a temporary rally location. Use your common sense. If a venue feels all wrong, choose not to attend. Many times, you may realize if something bad happens, you are better off being in an area that has better egress and an emergency exit. Position yourself there and insist on not being moved.
Look for safety items
Most political events are hastily put together, and often, the only person whose safety is a priority is the candidate. Depending on the timing and popularity of the candidate, there could be private security or even the US Secret Service protecting the candidate. Those events, by nature, will have some sort of safety and security plan in place, if only to protect the candidate. However, look around when arriving at an event. Does there appear to be an organized plan for the audience? Is there adequate security? First Aid stations and other “guest services” type setups? Do you see multiple ways to exit in case something happens? If you answer no to these questions, that is a sign that this event has the potential for disaster!
Be Situationally Aware
Many candidates will inspire those who disagree with the candidate to demonstrate their alternative viewpoints and opinions. Lawful and civil assembly is a right guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and should be respected. However, look for signs that a protest may be less than lawful and civil. Pay attention to the news surrounding those alternative voices. If they advocate action “by any means,” this often means that nothing is off the table for these groups. Don’t be caught in the crossfire as an “innocent bystander.” Also, as a personal bit of advice, forgo engaging with those who are there opposing a candidate. If you are such a strong supporter that you have made an effort to go to an event and a person who is opposed enough to your candidate shows up in opposition, there is no middle ground for the two of you.
Finally, many ordinary people answer the extraordinary calling to be part of the political process and join a campaign. If you find yourself organizing events as part of a campaign and want to ensure they are safe, please give us a call! We are experts at making sure safety plans are organized so that all the supporters can have a great experience!
Written by Brian Nestler, Co-Founder and CEO of Event Safety Plus