On Her Own

Protests in Philadelphia, Redux

Police charge at a crowd along 52nd Street in West Philadelphia in the early hours of Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Protesters gathered after police shot and killed a man in West Philadelphia earlier in the day.

Violent protests broke out again in Philadelphia last night, following an officer-involved shooting death. The details are important for future justice, but the immediate consequences? Those are what matter when it comes to surviving today. We’ve talked about protests and riots several times here at On Her Own because 2020, but there are always new lessons to be learned and important ones to be reminded about, even when events seem similar. After reading some of the news stories for this one, here are a few I noticed.

This round of violence once again happened in West Philadelphia. Locals and those who have been paying attention to details in the news will tell you that’s not a particular surprise. Some neighborhoods are more prone to violence than others. That doesn’t mean that a “safe” neighborhood is always safe, or that you are doomed to being swept up in trouble in a “bad” neighborhood, but it’s certainly fair to be more alert to the possibility in the latter. Here, both the shooting and the rioting happened in the same general geographic area too. If you hear about an event that you know will be controversial, whether it’s through the grapevine or through official sources, might be a good idea to stay away from those areas, no? We know to do it when it comes to avoiding traffic after a bad accident. We also need to know to do it after things like this happen.

From the shooting itself to the aftermath, there were quite a few injuries all around. Many were from thrown objects, and one police officer was hit by a car and suffered a broken leg. One of the mantras of emergency medical services is “scene safety,” and you can be relatively certain that they won’t be inserting themselves into a dangerous setting to treat people who have been hurt. Even if they will, it takes time for them to arrive. Even police officers know that, and one of them took the man who they shot to the hospital in a squad car because that was what was right there. Do you know how to provide immediate first aid if you or someone near you is injured, whether by gunfire or something else? Do you carry the supplies you’d need to do so? Have you decided whether you’re willing to treat strangers and if so, to what to extent? Have you figured out how to get someone to higher level medical care if you have to take them yourself?

Because 2020, there were literal dumpster fires set as part of the festivities. I haven’t seen how the fires were set, but they did remind me that fire isn’t out of bounds for looting and rioting. Dumpsters this time, but perhaps stores or even homes and vehicles next time. Fire extinguishers only seem paranoid to keep nearby until something is actually up in flames – whether from someone throwing a match or for other reasons. Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training recommends these pocket-sized ones for easy carry, and as a “good enough” option when you can’t drag around a more capable extinguisher: https://amzn.to/31J98Qg (money-grubbing affiliate link alert!). If you live or work in a potentially violent area, or have to drive through one, a larger ABC chemical fire extinguisher wouldn’t be the least useful thing you could have around. Fires don’t just start because of bad people, after all (are you really a cook if you’ve never set something on fire in the kitchen??).

With elections only a week away here in the United States, tensions continue to rise. Unfortunately, what happened in Philadelphia yesterday is unlikely to be the last of protests turned violent and rioting we’ll see in the near future. No matter what side you support, your safety will continue to be at stake, so it’s important to keep paying attention to things like this that will keep you alive and well enough to keep being part of the conversation.

Hi, I'm Annette.

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