These days, confusion, panic and misinformation took over a large part of the residential complexes of Bogotá and other cities in the country, as a response to the social movements caused by the National Strike that began on November 21.
Santiago Jiménez, a resident of a group located north of the capital, after seeing his wife and children cry in fear, faced with an alleged invasion by vandals, steeled himself and went down to accompany his neighbours to protect the entrances to the set. A broomstick served as a shield.
“I saw them. They entered the Holy Land”. “Come down, we have to be together, they are getting into the group next door, ” were some of the expressions that Jiménez’s neighbours shouted in the middle of the uncertainty.
The official balance, zero apartments and residential complexes invaded that night, at least in the north of Bogotá.
What happened so that people from different parts of the city felt that they were experiencing the same dangerous situation, even when it was not happening? The possible causes are many.
Several of the hypotheses blame the State for applying the Panic Theory to citizens, through the massive dissemination of images on social networks. In other places, it seems, the vandals came only to scare. There were no concrete invasion actions or massive robberies.
The truth is that whatever the source of such a desperate situation, it is necessary for neighbourhood communities to know how to respond and what are ways to prepare to combat incidents of this type.
In this regard, Omar Cortés, manager of Edifito.co – a company specializing in horizontal property behaviour – assures that misinformation is the cause that triggers the internal neighbourhood convulsions.
The expert explains that residents have to manage a single communication scheme led by the building administration, who must have privileged and truthful information.
“In the events presented last Friday, November 22, the way in which panic is created due to lack of communication is reflected. In several condominiums, where the harassment occurred, the security companies were informed, but spreading the messages at these junctures is very difficult through traditional channels. The billboards are useless in these cases”
Cortés assures that, in times of social unrest, it is necessary to act in two ways:
1. It is necessary and essential that the condominium has management software that allows it to be in communication with all the residents of the place. There are platforms that allow the administration to send a massive message in real time, making known all the eventualities of the moment, its veracity and the way to act. Everyone has to handle a single message.
2. All residential complexes must have a serious security company, which in emergencies knows how to activate the appropriate security instructions (call the security forces, properly follow the emergency instructions, and be aligned with the administrator’s messages).
How far does the vigilante interference go?
It is necessary for citizens to know how far the interference of the vigilantes as a whole reaches in the face of mass vandalism.
Cortés explains that the guards – employees of security companies who must comply with a series of legal requirements to be able to function and carry out security tasks – have the obligation to ensure the security of the residential complex, establishing internal strategies that range from custody and access control in goals and continuous surveillance around and inside buildings or interiors.
Surveillance companies offer services with or without firearms. According to Cortés, the only way a vigilante can shoot is for him to be on an equal footing with the attacker. “Only if it is one by one and the guard is attacked or threatened with a firearm, can he use his weapon, otherwise not.”
He also adds that in situations such as those presented last week, it is difficult for a vigilante squad to manage to control a crowd. If the attackers come to the set with sticks and bladed weapons, the wardens can only use their tuna. Also, the collaboration of the community is necessary to support the vigilantes in the defence of private property. Crowd against the crowd.
Finally, the expert assures that the first thing that the guards must do is adhere to their routines of legal action, immediately calling the security forces and activating the alarms of the group. Subsequently, notify the company to which they belong, which reinforces the support if necessary.