As the mainstream media positively salivates over the anticipated civil unrest and rioting that’s expected following the release of the dual Grand Jury investigation and Department of Justice investigations that are expected to exonerate Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, a teenager of African decent we thought it might be a good idea to review tips on prepping for riots and civil unrest. According to a knowledgeable multi-juristictional law enforcement analyst the law enforcement community is more concerned about the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting information release than any event since 9/11.
A riot or period of riots/civil unrest is best avoided and the Prepping for Riots and Civil Unrest tips below should help you avoid or if necessary safely escape a dangerous situation.
- Avoid: Riots and protests that could easily become riots are often organized on social media including sites like this one currently being used to organize protests and riots following the release of the results of the Grand Jury investigation into the acts of Officer Wilson. Sites like these tell you where and in some cases when ‘actions’ will occur. They tell me what parts of town to avoid like the plague. If you find yourself in a mob, avoid confrontation…don’t argue, verbally engage or negotiate.
- Know What Time It Is: Many planned riots and protests that could easily become riots happen in the first few hours and days after the precipitating event. Keep an eye on breaking news that could trigger a riot and go out of your way to return to safe areas or stay out of danger areas entirely if there is a potential precipitating event or planned release of information like the Officer Wilson Grand Jury and Department of Justice investigation results.
- Stay Calm: Keep a calm, clear head and don’t get emotionally involved and compromise your decision making skills. Mob mentality really exists but you must its lure even if you are sympathetic to the precipitating cause or excuse for the violence.
- Move Carefully but Decisively: By staying calm you’ll be less likely to move quickly or rashly. You want to keep your footing and avoid falling to the ground at all costs where you are in danger of being trampled, kicked or worse. Move with intention through the crowd with a stern look on your face…don’t stop just continue moving and gently force your way through to safety. One technique that works well with crowds that haven’t turned violent yet is shouting “make a hole, coming through…” as if you own the place…people will just move out of your way and continue on their business.
- Fade Away: If you find yourself in the middle of a crowd that might get ugly get away immediately and quietly before a problem starts. Move to the outer edge of the mob and fade away into a side street. I was backpacking through Europe in the mid 1980s and stopped over in West Berlin (when there was such a place) for a few days and found myself drawn to what I thought was a street fair and parade. After just a few short minutes I realized that I’d walked right into the middle of an anti-American protest complete with effigies of President Reagan being burned and lots of anti-nuclear propaganda being given out (it later came out that the Soviets organized and financed these types of protests in West Germany for decades)…anyway, as soon as I realized what was going on I silently pointed it out to my buddy so no one could hear my language and accent and we moved our bluejean (not something Europeans wore in those days) wearing asses down the nearest side street and outside of the danger area. I didn’t know that it would turn violent but I wasn’t going to take the chance and the riot police on hand were conscripts from the same population that generated the protesters. Reports I’ve read over the years indicate that if just 1-2% of a crowd turns violent then there is a potential for mob mentality to set in…become the grey man and fade away. Don’t overlook the possibility of moving through a building if necessary but be very careful to avoid getting cornered or stuck.
- Strategic Relocation: One thing I quickly noticed while living in Baghdad in 2006-2007 was that the same neighborhoods seemed to erupt in violence over and over…and I’m talking about Iraqi on Iraqi violence…turns out these were the neighborhoods on where Sunni and Shia neighborhoods met. If you find yourself living in an area that’s a demographic fractional divide…find a way to move someplace safer.
- Don’t Lose Your Life With Your Property: There are wonderful stories of business owners of Korean descent putting on a show of force outside and on the roofs of their stores to deter looting during the 1992 LA Riots but I’d be very cautious about trading my life for my property because in the end you may lose both. This caution assumes that the property you lose only represents a financial loss and doesn’t represent you or your family’s best chances of survival.
- Be a Voice Of Reason: The best way to keep riots from starting in the first place is to multiply those willing to act as the voice of reason. Become that voice of reason in your community by encouraging adherence to the rule of law and oppose extra-jurisdictional killings, lynchings, ‘payback’ activities and post sports championship winning car burnings.
- Employ Camouflage: If possible look like the group you find yourself within until you escape the immediate area at which point your camouflage might make you a target for rival groups or police. When I found myself in that situation in West Berlin I really stood out in my American blue jeans. Rearrange your clothing, add or remove a cap or pick up discarded items in order to look as much like the folks you want to ignore you as possible.
- Keep Together: Don’t allow your group to get separated. In dense crowds one technique to stay together is to hold hands or place a hand on the person in front’s shoulder and follow the leader very closely until you’ve reached safety.
I hope you never find yourself in a riot but if you do…I hope Prepping For Riots & Civil Unrest helps get you out safely.