The first sign, of course, is bad looks when you walk on the street. Small groups of people (especially young men) staring at you? Don´t show fear, but leave the place fast, and find a safe spot. A shop, a restaurant, someplace with guards, preferably. If you´re classified as a “vulnerable” inhabitant (a migrant, ethnical minority, etc.) you know what I´m talking about. Don´t expose yourself and become gray. No one will open an investigation until much time afterwards an attack under these circumstances. And what we want to avoid is an attack.
The second sign, perhaps this is more subtle, when you see people that normally would be polite or indifferent, as a minimum, starts to look at you in sort of aggressive manner. It´s surprising the number of women from a certain age up that have insulted and been racist with Venezuelans in some countries. (Well maybe surprising for some single people…not as much for me already anyway LOL)
The third sign, of course, is people disappearing of the streets. I think one of my worst nightmares would be to be walking with my kid in middle downtown, and suddenly to find ourselves roaming in deserted streets because there is an aggressive gang coming and you can´t see it. One of my friends was caught in the middle of the coup d’etat to Rafael Correa a few years ago in Ecuador, and when he finally could arrive at the hostel he supposed to have booked in, the lady running the place kick his suitcase by the stairs, closed the door and never opened. Go figure. A Venezuelan never would have treated someone like that, and I am proud to say this.
The fourth sign is (obviously) LEOs presence in massive amounts in the streets. Any kind of uniform is a strong indication of expected turmoil. Find cover.
The fifth sign in modern times would be (because in the demonstrations the uniforms used it massively to identify potential groups as a target) drones flying close to some blockage or LEOs control point. And I know this because people who took part in the demonstrations informed me. Everything was peaceful, and after they saw the drones, minutes later all hells broke lose.
The sixth sign, and the last one, is when you start seeing people wearing a single color. All in black, or all in white, or all sharing a bandana, or some symbol that indicates they are part of a group…..[ ]