We have seen an increase in disorganized and organized protests in the last few weeks. One factor is seasonal: the weather warms up, and groups are more eager to get out. Another is political, correlating with important dates like the French election, May Day, conferences and summits, and visits by leaders. Surveying a few protests that caught headlines because they involved violence, we stress the importance of estimating "tactics, techniques, and procedures" of both police and protestors/rioters. The press should have a sense of how the police and protestors behave in a specific locale.
For example, Baltimore police behave much differently from LAPD and even NYPD. New Orleans police behave differently from Albuquerque police, and so on. During the 2015 Baltimore riots, when the front police lines broke, and the less trained officers began clearing corners, a few frustrated officers picked up bricks and threw them back. Knowing D.C. as well as we do, that would never happen by DC police. They are too paranoid about being seen by government officials, and during the inauguration the city deployed human rights officers in plain clothes to observe police behavior. On the other hand, Philadelphia residents would behave differently than Bay Area, and Anti-Fascists versus Environmental versus Animal Rights, and so on, have unique histories of behavior. Know that history.
Press operating worldwide have to deal with varieties of personalities of leaders of groups, security forces, and agitators in crowds. One group may prefer fires, another breaking car windows, and another throwing Molotov cocktails. Some groups start fires so they can draw attention and move to another spot. Some want to call the Mobile Tactics Units away. Do not underestimate strategy of organized groups, and do not take lightly the potential for violence of disorganized groups sparked by one or two aggressors.
Police units could be well trained and have modern non-lethal weapons, while others carry more primitive arms and indiscriminately attack in vertical and horizontal lines down the street. Before walking into one of these situations, have at least a cursory notice to oneself of what to expect.