When hate groups hold marches or rallies, the potential for violent clashes is ever-present, particularly when anti-racist organizations with a history of violence show up as counter-protesters. Here are tips to help law enforcement prevent a bloody confrontation:
Research the group holding the event — its history, beliefs, leaders. Do the same for any counter-protest groups that plan to attend or that have shown up at the hate group’s events in the past.
Encourage citizens to stay home and ignore the event. Or, recommend that civic and religious leaders hold an alternative community event at the same time but well away from the hate group rally.
Stay in contact with the leaders of hate groups and counter-protesters — before, during and after the rally.
Require members of the media to have police-issued press passes. Watch for unauthorized people posing as media personnel.
Establish a command post away from the epicenter of the event. Make sure all officers and relevant government officials are fully briefed, and keep state intelligence fusion centers informed.
Use all available resources for security — K-9 units and bomb squads to conduct a pre-check of the area, and helicopters for surveillance before and during the event.
Assign officers to photograph and videotape the event.
Establish a buffer zone and/or recognizable barrier to cordon off event participants from counter-protesters and spectators.
To reduce face-to-face confrontations, restrict counter-protesters to a specific area only as close to the event as legally required. Try not to allow hate group members to march past counter-protesters.
Designate a hard entry point and a specific time for hate group members, and a separate area for any counter-protesters, to gather so they can be escorted to the rally location. Participants can be screened for weapons here if certain legal requirements are met. No backpacks should be allowed.
Offer to bus hate group members to the event location, reducing the possibility of confrontations.
—Don’t allow anyone to join the event, or leave and come back, once it has begun.