What To Do If Caught in a Protest or Riot

trayvon-crowd-twoNot all protests and riots are for noble causes, they also occur over sports outcomes (soccer, football) and are known to pop up around collage campuses for one reason or another.
Some reasons for civil unrest include: religious differences, economic stress, price increases, racial issues (white cop shoots black person, etc.), jury verdicts,
Not all are violent, but any protest can turn violent, even if it starts out out small.

Mob psychology on how people behave in a mass uprising is a field of study in itself, but one way to look at them is to take the average IQ of the people and divide it by the number of people in the crowd. If the crowd is emotionally charged enough with anger or frustration, it will be more likely that the protest is to turn violent.

We didn’t see much in the way of violence with Sunday’s protests over the Zimmerman verdict. I think this was b/c most people were removed from the cause. IOW, they didn’t have a personal attachment to the event they were protesting about. My guess is most people at the protest had little to no clue on why they were protesting. Sure, a bad verdict, but it’s doubtful that this many people actually knew the facts for the case and thus were upset by the verdict.

This is also a grand lesson in how the media has control over the population. We were told by the MSM that this was bad, and thus people wanted to protest.
Also, I think many were taking the opportunity to vent some frustration in general. Since 2008, many have seen their income and standard of living diminish and are confused and frustrated, most without a clue as to why.

So what’s the point?
Protests, flash mobs and riots can spring anywhere, at anytime. You need to be aware of this and make sure that you suddenly find yourself in the middle of one.

What to do if you find yourself in a protest or riot?
First, get out and away as fast as you can. This may or may not be easy, as you could find yourself swept up by the rush of people, or you could find yourself the target of their anger (think LA Riots). You never know who or what the mob will decide to vent their anger about. In some cases, you can make an educated guess, such as if it’s a racially motivated protest. With the way that social pressures are trending lately, we can expect more racially charged events to occur for the foreseeable future.

If you do get swept up with the crowd, go with the flow of traffic. Don’t try to fight against the push of people, move in the same direction as the mob and try to move to the side. If you can get to the side the crushing forces will be less and you can take an opportunity to exit the crowd. Once you leave the immediate mob area, get as far away as you can, even if it means you’re moving away from where you want to be.

While you’re a part of the mob and even when you try leaving it, the police are going to assume you’re a part of the protest. If confronted by the police, resistance means they’ll only beat you harder.
Also, claiming that you not a part of the mob isn’t going to get you anywhere, either. The police will be in a “Us vs. Them” mentality and discussing the finer points on how you got mixed up with this crowd isn’t on their agenda. Your best case is to offer no resistance and hope they they either arrest you with as little pain as possible or move on to bigger fish.

Most protests and riots are limited in scope, though some can become quite huge. It might not seem like it, but it’s possible to turn a corner, either walking, cycling or driving, right into an ongoing protest. Your sudden appearance may go unnoticed, or it might be the spark that sets the crowd off. Be prepared to get away quickly – knowing where you are and what the alternate routes are would be extremely helpful in this case, as well as the ability to make snap decisions.

Stay alert to what’s going on in the news, so you have advanced notice that protests are either occurring or the potential for them has increased. Flash mobs, which is a sudden and unexpected mass gathering, are hard to predict, unless you’re in the loop for that particular flash mob.
If the affected area is large, seek shelter indoors and ride out the protest inside. Be prepared to shelter in place for hours.

If you’re in a vehicle, attempt to get out of the area, but don’t use the vehicle to be aggressive towards the rioters (unless you’re prepared to run them over). Vehicles don’t make for very good protection against a mob of people, but keep your doors locked and windows up. If you can’t drive out of the area, it may be best to immediately park and abandon the vehicle. Trying to drive through the crowd or towards the police may be interpreted as a hostile maneuver and bring unwanted attention to yourself.

If you become a target in your vehicle, expect to have things thrown at your car: bottles, rocks, bricks and so on. At this point, do not stop – your life is in danger. Drive out of the area as best you can, with the understanding that if you stop, you may not get out.

The more violent the protesters, the more likely the police will use aggression against them. You don’t want to be caught in this melee. Thick clothes, leather jacket, gloves, boots, a motorcycle helmet, goggles and an N100 mask would be great to have with you, but if you knew you were going to need these things, you’d probably have stayed away from these events. Of course, if you travel in areas that are known to have mass uprisings on a regular basis, keeping these in your car will help keep you safer.

Unfortunately…
The odds are that if you find yourself in the middle of a riot, you’re going to get hurt, arrested or both.
Here’s the “in a nutshell” list for dealing with riots:
1. Avoid them. Keep tabs on the news and social media for potential hotspots and currently active areas. Either avoid areas or be hyper vigilant when in or around known hotspots (such as Oakland).
2. If you suddenly find yourself in a looting and rioting mob, get out as quick as possible. Don’t stop to see what’s going on and don’t assume that because you’re not a target that you won’t quickly become one. If you’re in a vehicle, keep driving.
3. If you’re in a mob and not being targeted, don’t bring attention to yourself. Try to blend in, as you look for a way to move out of the area.
4. If you do find yourself targeted by the mob, fight to win. Grab whatever weapon you can and fight to survive anyway you can.
There is no list of survival rules that is going to protect you once you’re the focus of an unruly and violent mob. This is where your preparedness mindedness comes into play. You should know how to think on your feet and act quickly.

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One Response to What To Do If Caught in a Protest or Riot

  1. Pingback: Episode 187 – Urban Violence and What To Do If Caught in a Protest or Riot | The Preparedness Podcast

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