How should an average American prepare for violence on inauguration day?
January 13, 2021 1:13 PM   Subscribe

With the threats from the rioters/coup attempters/fascists/far-right/etc. crowd to "protest" at each state capital, including DC, how should the average person prepare for this?

I don't live in a capital region, but I assume I can call upon my governor to ensure that people are being protected. What else? Do I stock up on groceries?

This question applies not only to the promise of violence on inauguration day, but beyond, too. I can't believe I'm writing this because it feels like prepping for civil war. But here we are!

Any and all suggestions appreciated, as well as pointing towards any helpful news articles or documentation that has covered this or has reasonably sound predictions.

Thanks in advance.
posted by knownassociate to Law & Government (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Stay home, watch the inauguration on TV. Don’t go to your statehouse. Don’t invade any government buildings.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 1:20 PM on January 13, 2021 [86 favorites]

I'd extend that to include avoiding any government facility anywhere. courthouses to dmvs.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:40 PM on January 13, 2021 [8 favorites]

Don't go outside if you don't have to. I say this not because I think there will be danger, but anything to help emergency services would probably be a good idea, just in case. I would not stock up on essentials anymore than usual. Again, I don't think there will be a run at the supermarkets, but anything to help. I would remove any political signage from the yard or windows too, to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Going forward, the usual State Department travel advisory is sound in this situation: avoid large crowds, be aware of your surroundings, stay informed.

Speaking of information, I haven't seen any articles or coverage anywhere with actual predictions. The government is preparing for the worst, that's all that can be said.
posted by Stuka at 1:47 PM on January 13, 2021 [9 favorites]

Eh, yeah, this all sucks and it's awful this is even a thing we have to think about but I'm in a state capital and as long as I stay inside those days I'm not worried. Avoiding all government buildings is probably a good idea but I know at least here in Raleigh downtown is going to be the hot spot if anything happens.
posted by clarinet at 1:48 PM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Agreed, I'm also in a state capital and if I didn't turn on the news I probably wouldn't know about anything happening at the actual Capitol building. I plan to avoid downtown altogether and probably just stay home entirely, though that is one of the days of the week I get to see my sweetie.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:50 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh, adding-"those days" is referring to this weekend til the 20th. I know there are talks about ""protests"" in Raleigh on Saturday so I will probably lie low from then until we see how the 20th goes.
posted by clarinet at 1:58 PM on January 13, 2021

I wouldn’t plan on flying on Inauguration Day or the days immediately thereafter. If anything does happen, airport security will be tightened and you’ll probably see delays. No actual danger but big inconvenience.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:00 PM on January 13, 2021

I live in the hottest hot zone of Washington, DC and my inauguration plan is to lay low in my neighborhood, but otherwise conduct life as normal. We plan to watch the inaugural address outside with a couple of neighbors and hoist a glass to the 46th president at 12:01 when he is sworn in. All that subject to change after we see how the next few days go, of course, but I think as long as you steer clear of government buildings and don't take up arms against your government yourself, you should be okay on the 20th.
posted by fancypants at 2:14 PM on January 13, 2021 [9 favorites]

If your state capit[a|o]l's leadership and/or law enforcement are clearly being chuckleheads (as appears to be the case in a few states, thankfully not mine as I live a mile and a half from the state capitol building), it would be a kindness to state-level staffers to make a call to the governor's office or to your state reps expressing concern, and hope that the situation is being adequately prepared for.

Otherwise, the advice I'm seeing, including from coup-resistance organizations, is "hunker down." I plan to follow that advice.
posted by humbug at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

If I lived in a hot zone and happened to notice a Q-emblazoned vehicle parked on my street that isn't normally there, and people putting on their assault gear i'd pay attention (secretly take photos), but I would still just stay inside.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:55 PM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you don't live near your state capitol or in DC, I don't think there's much to prepare for in terms of physical violence/infrastructure problems. It's always a good idea to have a couple weeks of food and water on hand (for earthquakes and other natural disasters, if nothing else), but I don't think preparation is needed beyond that.

The other thing to think about is whether you need a backup country to flee to if you're no longer safe in the United States in general. This would have been an ideal thing to have started thinking about a few months or years ago, but there's no harm in thinking about it now — what are the set of circumstances that would cause you to leave the United States, and where would you go? While things are looking better than they were last week, we don't know that this coup is a failed coup yet.
posted by wesleyac at 2:59 PM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Our standard prep now for situations that might invoke a local curfew (I am in Los Angeles and they will do that citywide for something going on 20+ miles away) are to have done a robust grocery shop* so that we are unlikely to need to go out, gas our cars up just in case a Situation creates supply chain or power issues, and get some cash in small bills.

I have anxiety and I live in earthquake and fire country, and the perfect-storm-worst-case thing I obsess over is some kind of Unrest occurring during a pandemic and then there's an earthquake/fire situation that also leaves us without power or maybe insecurely housed but not going to a shelter. We are still working on fully organizing our camping supplies but they are generally stored in a place where they would be easy to haul out either for ourselves or a neighbor with some kind of issue.

*We still have a robust pandemic stash but it'll all keep a good long while or I can donate it later when I can relax, so I do tend to add 3-5 days' worth of stable stuff every time I get worried about something. I also like to have some easy meal components and treats on hand if we may be headed into a stretch of even-more-upsetting-than-usual days: good frozen pizza, brownie mix, frozen meatballs or burger patties, easily-steamed veg, canned cinnamon rolls and/or biscuits, popcorn, whatever you could throw together while doomscrolling, if needed.

I think the most important thing to do is just make sure you could stay home a few days if you needed to, and that's probably already mostly on your docket anyway. If you are low on a critical medication and can refill before this weekend, do that. If there is anything you would especially like to not run out of, go ahead and get a little extra.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:01 PM on January 13, 2021 [5 favorites]

Don’t show up. Don’t come out.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:22 PM on January 13, 2021 [6 favorites]

Have a order a big food shop, pick it up the week before, fill up the car with gas, have some cash on hand, stay home and watch the inauguration on TV. There's a pandemic on so you're not supposed to be going out anyway, so keep not going out.
posted by wwax at 3:46 PM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Remove any campaign stickers from your car. Anybody/Anywhere
posted by achrise at 4:27 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

just stay home. i'm in richmond and we've had some pretty ugly clashes here over the past year - people come from out of state to run down protesters - and they are all armed. i'm right in the city, and my plan is to keep my dog inside as much as possible, and keep us away from cops and protesters
posted by megan_magnolia at 5:03 PM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

There was an attempted coup in DC. It was dangerous for people in the capitol and nearby, law enforcement officers on duty, members of the press in the area, for legislators in airports, for airline and possibly other travel staff who had to deal with belligerent, mask-refusing assholes, but not for anybody else.

I am a very mild prepper because I live where there's weather emergencies, so I have the basics. That was handy when I didn't go out when Covid began. I'll put my Biden lawn sign back up, probably with some festive lights, for the Inauguration. I'll keep Staying Home because of Covid. Fill the car with gas, sure. It's always a good idea to have some water stored, maybe some candles, an LED flashlight and some easy food, like baked beans, tuna, crackers. Keep your phone charged.

When I think about prepping for Insurrection or war, I go back to this comment from Dee Extrovert.
posted by theora55 at 5:45 PM on January 13, 2021 [9 favorites]

One way to head off a general breakdown of society and potential civil war getting kicked into higher gear by violence on those days is to just strengthen the society around you. So, stay home, stock up for yourself so you can share with others, and stock up your local food bank so maybe they can make it easier for others to stay home as well. Good luck, everybody.
posted by Gotanda at 7:29 PM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Just always be prepared to shelter in place - which is good advice no matter what. Make sure you have cat food, some gallons of bottled water, enough nonperishable food for a week, medicine if you take it. Also be prepared to go somewhere else if there's evacuation for any reason - have a go-bag with a few basic toiletries, a change of clothes, a fair amount of cash. Put a full tank of gas in the car. Keep your devices charged and backup batteries handy.

In short all the stuff you need to do to be disaster ready for any kind of event.
posted by Miko at 7:43 PM on January 13, 2021

+1 to general disaster preparedness. One thing that I read is that the power grid is vulnerable to disruption. Not sure how credible that is, but it was food for thought as someone not near a capital.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:55 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Might be worth it to look up your local mutual aid networks; they may need food and supplies in order to distribute to houseless folks, so that they can hunker down on Inauguration Day as well.

I second donating to local food banks, as well.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:11 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Honestly, things that you're already doing (or at least should be doing) because of COVID are probably enough; limiting your exposure to crowds, staying home as much as you can. No need to stock up on supplies more so than you might be doing already (because you are likely limiting the number of times you go to the grocery store, right?), since I strongly doubt these chucklefucks would do anything above and beyond "march around a specific area and break stuff for a few hours".

If you're really worried about access to food, maybe make your usual grocery run today or tomorrow, but no need to get anything hugely above and beyond what you were already planning on getting, except the possible addition of comfort junk food ("dammit, I deserve a pint of Chunky Monkey to get me through this").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:56 AM on January 14, 2021

One way to head off a general breakdown of society and potential civil war getting kicked into higher gear by violence on those days is to just strengthen the society around you. So, stay home, stock up for yourself so you can share with others,

Hourly workers here in D.C. are going to miss wages due to business and transportation closures. Help them out, tip them, buy them lunch, ask if they need anything, buy some extra food "by mistake." I know some here have been scared riding on Metro with the insurrectionists last week.

If you are in the D.C. area or a state capital, keep this in mind!
posted by jgirl at 8:02 AM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

The biggest thing I'd say, especially if you live near DC or a state capital, is do whatever you need to do foodwise to NOT order in any deliveries the day of, and possibly the day before/after. You don't know what curfews/road closures/transit interruptions are going to happen, with or without much warning, and it's dickish to make someone else take that risk and inconvienience on for you. Let other people stay put, too.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 8:07 AM on January 14, 2021 [9 favorites]

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