This section provides a brief overview of key things to consider when you will be reporting in a space of civil unrest. This could include any size or form of protest, rally, demonstration or organized in-person event where one or more groups within a nation are in conflict.
The following Top Tips, Gear List and Resources represent a brief introduction to these safety concerns for civil unrest. The information and resources offered below are not comprehensive nor do they offer sufficient preparation for any war or conflict zone. We encourage you to review the more expansive list of resources in the keyword-searchable J-SOS Safety Resource Database.
Think about who you are and how you visibly show up in any public space, especially an environment of civil unrest which is often produced around competing social groups/interests and emotionally inflamed. As the field of journalism becomes more diverse, journalists and editors should be aware and culturally competent to safely navigate civil unrest scenarios with consideration of how intersecting identities impact a journalist's safety profile. Journalists must also understand that you impact and alter any environment you enter. Despite all efforts to the contrary, you can never be entirely “above the fray.”
Familiarize yourself with the location before going to an area that has potential unrest.
Think about how much content you need to properly tell the story without putting yourself at grave risk.
A communication plan is critical whether you are working alone or in a team.
Much of the gear on these lists is repeated across the various section briefings because they are useful in many different situations. Please confirm your local and national laws around purchase and use of certain devices, objects and PPE.
FULL FACE RESPIRATOR
SPORTS SAFETY HELMETS
You are a freelancer photographing a police brutality protest in Atlanta, GA, USA at the Capitol steps for a personal project you plan to pitch to different media outlets. It is expected that there will be heavy police and National Guard presence, perhaps with live rounds, tear gas and other crowd control elements. Counter protestors from local men’s rights and white supremacist groups are expected and Georgia is an open-carry state. Light rain is also expected on the day of the protest.