28 September, 2016 Security
Muir Analytics covered the Black Lives Matter-related political violence against hotels in Charlotte, North Carolina, here. Riots impacted at least seven hotels with several people assaulted, two shot (and one killed), many wounded, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage done.
Hotels in the downtown Charlotte business district rallied to defend themselves. Here is a select list of some of the security precautions they took:
As far as Muir Analytics can tell, all impacted hotels seem to have responded in a calm, cool manner, and some released statements to the public, such as this one from the Omni, quoted by The Charlotte Observer: “The Omni Charlotte Hotel is safe and secure, and is currently operating as usual. We are continuing to stay close with local authorities to make sure we’re doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our guests and associates, which is our top priority.”
Forbes reported that a hotel staffer at the Ritz-Carlton said, “There’s no manual or protocol for when you think things are about to get dangerous. You just have a gut feeling and you have to listen to it. That’s what we’re trained to do. The safety and security of our guests are our top priority, and with something like this you have to make judgement calls every minute.” The anonymous staffer also said, “…Everyone in the hotel is a security guard when they’re needed and we’re all trained for these types of situations. It’s all about preparation.”
Overall, since the Charlotte hotels were, at the very least, decently prepared for the protests, their defenses against the riots were effective enough to keep property damage and assaults to a minimum. In situations like these, window smashing and hotel property vandalism are to be expected. Assaults on hotel staff are not uncommon. Some hotels were quite prepared for the violence, and all of them appear to have successfully protected their patrons.
At the same time, it is readily apparent that the police response and their defensive lines probably kept some hotels from being penetrated and sacked. These same police defenses certainly kept hotel patrons and staff from being physically assaulted, or worse.
It is critical for hotels to understand that riots such as those in Charlotte can get quickly out of control because of their frenzied nature and the tendency for mob rule/violence to “spread out” or diminish responsibility for acts of violence, at least in the minds of the rioters.
The fact that several hotels ended up barricading their lobbies with furniture indicates a desperate situation, a serious threat, and a lack of safety and security features engineered into the buildings to protect property, staffs, and patrons.
The largely successful security procedures applied during the Charlotte riots should be studied by other hotels and incorporated into crisis management planning. At the same time, these procedures can be added to and improved upon. More to the point, the Charlotte riots should cause hoteliers to prepare for harsher riot-style violence. For certain, defensive countermeasures enacted there were pushed to the brink, and ultimately, the police saved the day.
Sources and further reading:
“Wichita cop an eyewitness to Charlotte protests,” The Wichita Eagle, 23 September 2016.
“Businesses pick up the pieces after Charlotte riots,” WCNC, 22 September 2016.
“Vandals hit NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte protests, exhibits unscathed,” The Charlotte Observer, 22 September 2016.
“Charlotte leaders urge ‘business as usual,’ but some workers stay home,” The Charlotte Observer, 22 September 2016.
“Cleaning up: Uptown hotel, office building managers on damage, security plans,” Charlotte Business Journal, 22 September 2016.
“Uptown hotels regroup after a night of violence,” The Charlotte Observer, 22 September 2016.
“Charlotte riot: State of emergency declared after protester shot in second night of clashes over North Carolina police shooting,” The Telegraph, 22 September 2016.
“National Guard arrives in Charlotte after McCrory issues State of Emergency,” ABC 12NewsNow, 22 September 2016.
“How Did The Ritz Carlton Hotel Protect Their Guests Last Night During The Charlotte Riots,” Forbes, 22 September 2016.
“State of emergency declared, National Guard arrives in Charlotte following protests,” CBS WNCN, 21 September 2016.
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