The recent Occupy Wall Street protests brought more than 100,000 protestors to New York City on October 15th and now have reached 70 major cities. While the movement does not have official leadership, its main goals are to bring awareness to income inequality in the country, especially in regards to the “1%” of individuals who earn and hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, up to 40 percent in some studies. I’m thinking about starting an Occupy Movement of my own, in support of affordable dog housing. The popularity of the protests has even made them a NYC tourist attraction.
While many of the protesters are undoubtedly pacifists, there is the potential for violence, as recent clashes with law enforcement have demonstrated. The risks are inherent to property whenever large groups of people gather to vociferously demand something that is difficult to tangibly achieve. As time goes on, entrenched protestors might turn to mischief simply out of boredom or frustration. Building owners who encounter these types of protests should prepare to take steps to make sure their property remains protected at all times. Or you could always just opt to hire a great guard dog. I have a Doberman Pinscher friend who would be perfect for the job.
The first priority of property ownership is to ensure the safety of tenants, residents and/or employees. The second objective is to protect the integrity of the building. Here are some ideas for steps you could take as a property owner or manager to ensure both:
- Post signage on your property stating that trespassing and/or camping is not permitted. Numerous signs will help you delineate your property. This type of signage could also help deter people from using your space in any objectionable way.
- Coordinate with local law enforcement. They should have a plan for where protestors would be allowed to congregate and which areas would be considered off limits. I know a few animal control officers who would relish the opportunity to coordinate with people about making things off-limits.
- Use barriers to deny access to important areas. If you have a sensitive part of your business that will be closed to short-term protests, then consider closing it down or blocking if entirely to avoid any issues.
- Use window film to block the view into lower-level offices. Or you could just post a sign that says: “Guard Dog on Duty.” Just saying…You wouldn’t want tenants to feel harassed or nervous about the potential for violence if a group gathers outside.
- Install video cameras with signs that clearly state the fact that your area is under constant surveillance. While video won’t likely stop organized protests, it can deter violent or vandalistic acts.
- During the actual protests, consider hiring uniformed security officers to guard the perimeter of your building to discourage criminal behavior. Or, once again, might I suggest the right canine for the job?
Hopefully, any protests in your area will remain peaceful expressions of free speech and will not turn to violence or unrest. By taking some proactive measures, you can better protect your building and tenants from potential harm.
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