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Civil Unrest and Protests: How to Prepare Your Commercial Property


As the Derek Chauvin trial draws to a close this week, there is potential for increased civil unrest throughout the Country. Particularly, local law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County are preparing for likely protests in commercial corridors and public areas.

BOMA/GLA denounces racism and discrimination in any form, and stand in strong affirmation of lawful gatherings and the First Amendment right to speech. Still, in the coming days, we urge property owners and managers to take preventative and proactive measures to ensure your assets remain safe.

Commercial real estate professionals should take the opportunity to refresh and update their comprehensive security plans. These plans should be tailored to reflect many factors, such as the size of the asset and the community in which it operates.

To help you plan for instances of civil unrest, we've created an important checklist of factors to consider. Additionally, we highly recommend you visit BOMA International's Civil Unrest and The 2020 Election Guide, where you'll learn how to handle any potential challenges.

Protest preparations

  • Monitor local news media & alerts pushed by local law enforcement and the Office of Emergency Management
  • Inform security staff, management office team and all department heads of
    the potential activity and request additional security officers for the day.
  • Confirm that all tenant and management staff contact information is up to date.
  • Walk the perimeter of the building and remove anything that can be used to
    throw through a window (paper boxes, large stones, removable planters,
  • Remove dumpsters and place them behind locked doors – they can be set on fire and objects in them can be removed and used to damage property.
  • Be vigilant about protesters trying to gain access to your roof using false
    contractor IDs. Fake telecommunication badges have been used in the past to
    gain roof access to unveil banners from buildings.
  • Consider buildings ingress/egress options if an entrance becomes blocked.
  • Obtain your local police non-emergency phone number.
  • Consider purchasing plywood in advance so that ground-floor retail and other exterior windows can be covered quickly.
  • Check recording devices/cameras to ensure proper function.

On the day of the protest

  • If not already on-site, notify your police department so they can control things
    if protesters cross the line, such as by impeding traffic on the sidewalk,
    blocking entrances, or engaging in any vandalism.
  • Ensure all access points to your premises (customer entrances, loading
    docks, parking) are monitored by security. Call the police to evict trespassers. Make sure there is adequate signage to direct tenants and authorized visitors to the unlocked and monitored ingress/egress points. Access point control and lockdown levels should be determined by perceived Threat Levels.
  • Inform Property Management Staff and put into place an “all hands on deck”
    callout. Be ready to lock down and secure the exterior, elevators, and
    parking garage, if needed.

    • Review the procedure to lock off floors and elevators quickly as well as
      locking down the building itself. If this is not possible, be sure that keys are in the hands of people at the doors.
    • Regarding elevators, reach out to the access control firm to put them on alert prior to and during the protest hours for their immediate
      assistance and protocols.
    • Consider whether the building should be locked down during the day of protest and ask tenants to use their access cards all day.

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