Daisy Luther at The Organic prepper writes about How to Survive Riots and Civil Unrest.
As the world seems to be on fire in countries across the planet, the threat of civil unrest and riots certainly feels like it’s increasing. People are responding with rage to perceived injustices, and whether that rage is warranted or not isn’t the point of this article.
Often when I write about surviving events like mass shootings or riots, people scoff and say, “That was a false flag perpetrated by government operatives” or “Those people got paid by [insert evil billionaire here.]” The simple fact you must understand is that it doesn’t matter who started it, who paid for it, who instigated it, or who is taking part in it. If you find your city or town under siege by irate protesters, none of those things matter at the moment. These are things to be sorted out later.
What matters is how to survive and how to keep your loved ones safe. What we witnessed via social media of the riots in Chile should be enough to make anyone want to be prepared.
The idea of an angry mob appearing in your neighborhood is a frightening one but understanding more about the patterns of civil unrest can make it feel a bit more manageable.
It happens fast
It’s extremely important to understand how speedily riots can occur. In his newsletter, Simon Black of Sovereign Man wrote of his ties to Chile. He shared an eyewitness account.
…this past Friday was a particularly beautiful day. By lunchtime, people were out in the parks enjoying the weather. It was calm, peaceful, and joyful.
Within a matter of hours the city had turned into a war zone. Hours.
One of my team members told me on the phone yesterday, “If you had said on Friday afternoon that Santiago would be in chaos by nightfall, I would have laughed… And then it happened.” (source)
Never underestimate the power, rage, and motivation of a mob. Never think it can’t happen where you are.
There’s a distinct pattern to civil unrest.
Civil unrest can be predicted to some degree. Jose shared some of the warning signs he has observed and they all share their part in this pattern.
Here’s how a protest turns into a riot:
- A perceived outrage occurs.
- Good people react and protest the outrage.
- Sometimes there are not-so-good people in the group, those who want to see violence.
- Those perpetrating the outrage try to quell the protest because they don’t think that the outrage was actually outrageous.
- Others react to the quelling and join the protest.
- A mob mentality erupts. Thugs say, “Hey, it’s a free for all. I’m gonna get some Doritos and while I’m at it, beat the crap out of some folks for fun.”
- All hell breaks loose.
- The police and military get called in.
- The city burns, and neighborhoods get destroyed, and no one in the area is safe.
- Cops act preemptively, out of fear, and for a time, there is no rule of law.
- If you happen to be stuck there, know this: you’re completely on your own.
Tess Pennington wrote about societal breakdowns in more detail – read her excellent article for more information on these predictable scenarios.
The mob mentality and Freud
Some people are just waiting for the opportunity to behave in this fashion. They’d love to act like that every single day, but they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in jail. But when a verdict gets rolled out, when a storm takes out the power, when a disaster strikes, they delight in the chance to rob, pillage, loot, and burn. Who can forget the day before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, when thugs were coordinating looting rampages via Twitter?
I remember learning about “sublimation” in a high school psychology class.
Sublimation is a defense mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kickboxing as a means of venting frustration. Freud believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity that allows people to function normally in socially acceptable ways. (source)
If you believe Freud’s theory, then it’s easy to see that many people look for an excuse to revert to their true natures. In a situation where “everyone” is doing something, they are able to cast off the normal control of their impulses without much fear of reprisal. The number of looters and thugs far outstrip the number of arrests in most situations, so there’s a very good chance that someone swept up in that mentality can go burn somebody else’s home or business and completely get away with it.
In his course, One Year in Hell, Selco recounts how quickly and shockingly the SHTF in his Bosnian city. He explains that any time a group of people becomes violent, it’s possible for it to turn into a longer-term event than just a few rough days.
Never think “it can’t happen here.”
Remember in 2015 when Baltimore, Maryland was a war zone? It may have given you a sense of deja vu, flashing back to the fall when Ferguson, Missouri was under siege. We’ve seen riots in Sacramento, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin (which the media lied about); Charlottesville, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; and all over the nation after the presidential election in 2016.
And it didn’t slow down after the election. Portland has been the site of numerous protests that were really just all-out street fights and the police were ordered to stand down.
Some of the following information appears in my book, Be Ready for Anything, which has an entire chapter dedicated to surviving civil unrest.
How to survive a riot or unrest event
When you understand the patterns discussed above, you can make your plan with a bit more authority. But remember that no plan is engraved in stone in the survival world. You’ve got to be ready to pivot to Plan B in the blink of an eye if information arises that makes Plan A no longer the safest.
This article is about the safest ways to survive civil unrest. It’s not about making a stand or teaching those punks a lesson. There’s always someone who chimes in with a snide remark about how cowardly it is to lockdown with your family in order to stay safe.
Blah, blah, blah. If you want to go get involved in a battle to make a political point, that’s certainly your prerogative. If you want to fight the police enforcing martial law, it’s your call.
However, if your priority is your own safety and the safety of your family, the goal should be to avoid engaging altogether. This article is about surviving, not about How Things Should Be.
Get everyone together
If your area is beginning to devolve, the first thing you’re going to want to do is to get everyone in the family home or to a safer secondary location.)
In a perfect world, we’d all be home, watching the chaos erupt on TV from the safety of our living rooms. The reality is, family members are likely to be at work or school when things start to break down. You need to have a plan laid out in advance to get everyone together and you need to be flexible enough to know when to move on to Plan B.
- Devise an efficient route for picking up the kids from school. Be sure that anyone who might be picking up the children already has permission to do so in the school office.
- Find multiple routes home. Map out alternative backroad ways to get home as well as directions if you must go home on foot.
- Find places to lay low along the way. If you work or go to school a substantial distance from your home, figure out some places to lay low now, before a crisis situation. Sometimes staying out of sight is the best way to stay safe.
- Avoid groups of people – it doesn’t take much to turn a peaceful protest into a riot.
- Keep in mind that in many civil disorder situations the authorities are to be avoided every bit as diligently as the angry mobs of looters. The police won’t stop to ask you questions nicely in a tense situation. You’ll be treated as a threat.
Know when to abandon the plan to get home. Sometimes, you just can’t get there. Going through a war zone is not worth it. Find a different place to shelter. Pay attention to your instincts…(continues)