With the increasing popularity of the “Occupy Movement” and their high profile events in many cities, companies often wonder what they can do to prepare. This movement has become popular for a number of reasons that include but are not limited to:

– The perception that there is an unjustifiable gap of wealth between the normal worker (the 99%) and the corporate wealthy (the 1%)
– The belief that there is strength in numbers for a cause that many people can relate to
– The belief that sometimes peaceful civil disobedience is required to garner enough attention to make an impact in society
– The belief that corporate greed has caused both our recent economic crisis and the seemingly hamstrung economic recovery since then
– A notion that sometimes the end justifies the means

It is that last fact that is most concerning. The First Amendment to our Constitution allows for freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. It does not condone some of the activity that has been experienced at the Occupy Movement’s gatherings. This occasional misconduct has resulted in arrests of course but still represents a danger to civilians trying to go about their business in the areas of public demonstration or picketing.

My suggestions for companies that are concerned about either finding out about whether an Occupy event is planned for their area, or whether their company has been identified as a possible target for picketing /public demonstration/ flash mobbing, etc. are as follows:

– Establish a rapport with the local police to assure that when they find out through the local permitting process, or law enforcement intelligence gathering efforts, someone from the company will be made aware of such a possibility
– Seek the assistance of an investigative service that will assist with open source monitoring of internet sites typically used in the planning of such events
– Develop open exchange of information with the police and meet with them to assess what they will be able to do for your facility and personnel if an event is expected or develops
– Based on what you find out from the local police, determine what your company has to contract out regarding extra security, intelligence gathering, photographic evidence collection, executive or personal protection and other response options
– Do some table top crisis management exercises with this possible “Occupy” type of disruption as the topic to test your preparedness and consider that it might occur in conjunction with your annual shareholders meeting for example
– If you have been identified as a corporate target — Internet monitoring and intelligence gathering becomes a full-time requirement