Since the election of Donald J. Trump as the president in November 2016, the US has been witnessing a significant rise in the number of protests across the country that sometimes turned violent and resulted in clashes between pro and anti- Trump supporters. The protests in Charlottesville were in fact dominated by two opposing groups namely the far-right groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates among others as well as anti-racist groups that comprise of Antifa, Black Lives Matter (BLM) and National Council of Churches.

Unrest and clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia

With a population of just 45,000 people, Charlottesville is a relative peaceful city and besides being the home of the University of Virginia, its name is most likely to be rather elusive for those living outside of the United States. This however changed on 12 August when a protest over the removal of a Confederate statue turned awry, resulting in at least one dead and dozens more injured. It was regarded as one of the worst political-related violence in recent years and it also underscored the ever-deepening political division among the US people. In the aftermath of the violence, the hashtag #Charlottesville also quickly trended on social networking sites as a sign of solidarity.

The violence in Charlottesville has illustrated a new trend in US politics where the risk of civil unrest has never been greater. The presence of extremist groups is also likely to increase the likelihood of clashes during a demonstration as well as collateral damage to the public.  This was clearly seen when rival protests were held in Florida, New York City and Seattle among others barely 24 hours after the episode in Charlottesville. In a subsequent protest in Boston for free speech, there were also fears that clashes could occur once again between opposing sides. With this in mind, it is therefore highly important for one to be on alert especially when a civil unrest event breaks out.

Safeture keeps you informed when a protest is nearby

Prior to the unrest in Charlottesville, Safeture already sent an alert to all its users about the impending demonstration and how one´s travels could be affected. On the actual day, four updates were published about the unfolding situation on the ground including the climatic part where a car ran over a group of protesters, killing one of them. The alert also updated the users about the march route of the protesters who were forced to leave the Emancipation Park area amid the presence of riot police officers.

In the days that followed, separate events were also being held to commemorate the victims of the violence. Not all of them proceeded peacefully however, protesters in Seattle for instance clashed with police officers though only several arrests were made. It is very unlikely that the protests that occur constantly in US cities and towns will end in the near future as the political divide within its society increases each day.

As for GWS, keeping travelers informed about the current political situation of any country will always be its priority in order for them to have peace of mind wherever they go.

Chan Hoi Cheong
GWS Analyst
Security risk analyst based in Kuala Lumpur

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