Like most violent situations, riots and protests do not spontaneously erupt out of nothing.
There are certain elements that have to be in play for a riot and protests to take place.
The business of battleface is the ‘living’ industry. What we do and what we publish is focused on keeping people safe – no matter where they are or what the situation is – which is why we really like OEF veteran and Weapon Theory blogger Benjamin’s tips for surviving a riot.
Seeing it coming:
Each situation will vary in the level of violence and danger, but removing yourself from the situation before it escalates is your best option.
Like most violent situations, riots do not spontaneously erupt out of nothing. There are certain elements that have to be in play for a riot to take place. If you see all of the pieces starting to fall into place, it’s time to go. You don’t wait until you see the tornado to go to your basement; this is no different.
Early signs of trouble:
– Disinformation campaign; can come from news, social media personalities or public figures.
– Circulation of propaganda via fliers, posters or social media.
– Social committees forming around a topic or viewpoint.
– Increased visits from radical speakers.
– Malicious propaganda insulting a group, religion, ethnicity or public authority.
– Increased security at government buildings and an increase in police presence.
Signs of immediate danger:
– Large numbers of people gathering in public places: landmarks, government buildings, parks etc.
– Large groups of people congregating near the entrances of public venues.
– Shouting and verbal threats.
– Crowds chanting inflammatory statements.
– Instigators working a crowd into an emotional frenzy.
– People covering their faces.
– Factions of the crowd starting to move in packs.
– Groups disrupting the flow of traffic.
– Sunset – the cover of darkness can escalate the level of violent behaviour exhibited by rioters.
Some of these are indicators that it’s time to leave, and some are indicators that it’s time to bunker in place.
Every situation is unique. You may not have any trouble removing yourself from the situation, but you can’t count on having an easy trip. You might have to try to blend in, or you might be able to walk through with no issues.
Avoid the centre of the “storm”. The place where the riot starts, ground zero, is typically going to be the most violent and dangerous place to be. If travelling, move in the path of least resistance and in the direction of the least amount of people.
It’s important not to panic and to try and blend in if you are caught in the middle of a violent crowd. When good guys are looking for bad guys they follow a set of rules. Out of place, out of context, out of character. These are things that make bad guys stand out in a crowd of good guys. This is also what will make a lone good guy stand out in a crowd of bad guys. Even though the bad guys are not trained, they will know who is on their team and who isn’t. If you have to move through an exceptionally violent area covering your face and yelling to blend into the crowd isn’t a bad idea.
Do not participate in the chaos while blending in. Your goal is to get out of the danger area, not be part of the problem. The term “blending in” is to be taken as an ascetic contest.
Depending on the riot, the participants may be made up of a majority of a certain ethnicity. If you are of a different ethnic background, blending in is going to be difficult.
African-Americans shouldn’t try to blend in during a primarily Caucasian riot. Caucasians shouldn’t try to blend into a primarily African-American riot.
– Have a cloth or towel handy to avoid breathing in tear gas. (Swimming goggles work well for keeping tear gas out of your eyes.)
– Move the path of least resistance (least amount of rioters.)
– Don’t try to drive through a crowded street. Avoid crowds at all costs.
– Move toward law-enforcement and safety areas.
– If you carry a weapon, then keep it concealed. If you get into a gunfight, you will most likely lose.
– If caught in a crowd, blend in if you can. Don’t draw attention to yourself and move in the path of least resistance.
– When approaching law-enforcement, approach with your hands in plain sight. Tell them ‘I need help, get me out of here.’ They will point you in the direction you need to go.
Bunkering in place:
This isn’t the best option, but you may find yourself in this situation. If the riot is too intense for you to leave you may have no choice but to stay.
Find a location that does not have anything to loot. The ideal location would be a building with limited entry points, few windows, and made from cinderblock or another material that does not lend itself to burning. In the Ferguson riots, more than a dozen buildings were burned down. It would be in your best interest to not be in a building that burns easily.
In tactical training, shooters are taught to avoid or spend as little time as possible in ‘kill zones.’ Kill zones consist of hallways, staircases, doorways, and large open areas with no cover or concealment. When bunkering, the shooter reverse engineers this training. Place yourself at the end of a hall, at the top of a staircase or behind cover overlooking a chokepoint without cover or concealment.
When you get a location and secure the entry points, expect to be there until the next morning. The worst of the situation happens at night. Call the police, let them know where you are and tell them that you need to get out of there.
Tips for bunkering:
– Avoid windows.
– Lock or barricade windows and doors.
– Keep your position dark and the chokepoint (kill zone) lit. You can see them and they cannot see you.
– Make sure that you have adequate cover. Bullets don’t stop for drywall.
– Keep a viable exit clear. Know how to get out of the barricaded area in case of fire or a non-defendable threat.
– Keep your location inconspicuous. Be quiet. Don’t let the light or vibration from your phone give you away.
– Alert authorities to your location and that you are in need of assistance.