June 24, 2017

What Does Civil Unrest Look Like and How Can You Stay Safe Near It?

There have been a lot of rumors of possible or expected civil unrest, which I mentioned in What We May See at the End of 2012 that is not related to the Mayans and such as this recent article from Infowars.com, entitled Will The Election Results Cause Massive Riots To Erupt All Over America?.  This could range from small peaceful protests to large violent riots.  In light of this, I thought I would look back at civil unrest in our history and from around the world to see if there is anything to be learned that could help if we’re ever caught near civil unrest.


Mob Mentality

Mob mentality means a group that acts together without a previous plan.  Mob mentality can turn dangerous if there are negative or hostile emotions being expressed.   People often feed off one another’s anger.  If one person acts out in violence, others may quickly follow.  People soon think as a group and continue to feed off each other’s hostility.

There are a certain percentage of people who will act with honor in any situation.  There is another percentage that will act with dishonor and take advantage of people in any situation.  There is yet another group of people who will usually act with honor except when presented with the opportunity to “get away with it”.  In a group of people, all it takes is for a small percentage of dishonorable people to influence the opportunists and chaos ensues.

Examples where this has happened would be riots after sporting events, flash mobs with malicious intent and, to some extent, the riots seen with “Occupy Wall Street”.

If you are facing a group where mob mentality is present, the best advice I can give is to leave the area immediately and call the police from a safe distance.  Flash mobs are a bit different; they are usually made up of teenagers who text their friends and the group quickly builds because so many have been texting.  They often then target a specific location, streaming in and either burglarizing the location or, in some instances, assaulting patrons or employees.

If you are faced with a flash mob, I would advise you to forget what you were there to purchase and leave immediately.  You do not know what the intent is or how long it will remain peaceful.  Retreat to a safe distance that the mob cannot quickly get to and call police.


Extended Lawlessness

I can only think of one case of extended lawlessness in recent American history.  That would be the LA riot in 1992, which lasted six days.  There were 53 people killed and over 2,000 injured.  Rioting was sparked in a few other places across the country but the majority of it was seen in LA.

Looting and violence was rampant.  I had a friend in the Navy who lived in South Central LA during the time of the riots.  He said his mother made him and his brother stay lying on the floor almost the entire time because of random gunfire.  I have read reports that police were so overwhelmed in parts of the city that some business owner took up arms and defended their businesses.

Looking abroad, we see similar traits.  When Saddam fell and his police went into hiding, Iraq was full of looting and rioting that carried on for many days.  I remember reading reports from Tunisia and Egypt soon after the civil unrest started there.  There were reports of small convenience stores running out of supplies, cash machines running dry and neighbors banding together to defend their neighborhood from the rioting thugs.

There have been many anti-austerity protests and riots in Spain, Greece, the United Kingdom and some other European countries as well, many of which have turned violent.  I remember reading one report of sporting goods stores in the UK running out of baseball bats because people were buying them for protection (see what happens when you don’t have the right to bear arms?).

If you live near a city that is in the midst of extended lawlessness you will have to make a decision.  Will you be safer if you bug out or batten down?  If you chose to batten down, here are some things to keep in mind; 1.) Make sure you have food and water available so that you do not have to risk leaving the house.  2.) Keep some emergency cash at home just in case you must leave for emergency supplies.

If you have to go out on foot, always be looking for cover and concealment, even if you don’t have to use it in the moment, you should always know where the nearest is at any given moment.  Avoid large groups of people; you have no way of knowing what they may be up to or when mob mentality may take hold.  If you see violence taking place, whether it is a fistfight or any other type of violence, it can shock your system to see it “in real life”.  Do not fixate on it, push it from your mind and focus on putting distance between you and it, you can process what you saw when your safely back home.  Keep your head on a swivel as they say in the Navy and keep looking around you to make sure you know who is nearby.

If you go out near civil unrest in a vehicle, keep as much distance as you can or you may be faced with the decision to use your vehicle to “make some room” to push through a crowd or to simply flee.  That is why I suggest you keep moving.  Do not stop and watch.  Keep as much distance as you can. Almost every time I see footage from riots, there are cars that are vandalized, flipped over or burned.

You cannot depend on 911 or expect the police to show up quickly.  It might be wise to take a page from the neighbors in Egypt who banded together to protect their neighborhood or from the business owners in LA that defended their businesses because the police were so overwhelmed.


Restoring Order

Police and possibly the National Guard have the difficult task of stopping the lawlessness and restoring order.  This job could be made increasingly difficult because in many cases the dishonorable people will try to blend in with citizens who’re nearby.  This is used to great effect in Iraq and Afghanistan where someone will shot at our forces and then drop their gun and hide amongst the civilians standing nearby, or will run into a hospital mosque.

As I wrote in What We May See at the End of 2012 that is not related to the Mayans, local law enforcement agencies have trained with the military in urban operations.  Also Local Cops Ready for War With Homeland Security-Funded Military Weapons and the Air National Guard ordering several LRAD (Long Range Acoustical Devices).  The article also states:

“With this order, LRAD systems will be in use by every major force of the Department of Defense,”

There are two dangers.  One is the rioters and the other is the response to them.  You would be well advised to keep your distance from both.


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  1. Nancy Sims says:

    Excellent article, and I thank you for it. Very wise advise. The Los Angeles riots were very frightening to watch, let alone be anywhere near. Personally I can’t wait for this election to be over, so that we might know in which direction we are headed…further down the pit, or digging our way out….and yet I worry about riots nation wide once we know the winner. Pray for strength, wisdom. Trust in the Lord. Thank you as always, for keeping us aware, and prepared. I am accepting all suggestions and advise! :)

    • I’m looking forward to finding out to, but I’m not so sure things will change drastically if Romney wins. Don’t get me wrong I agree a lot more with his politics then I do Obama’s, but he is still a politician. I think one is nailing with a pneumatic nail gun and one will be using a regular hammer, either way there are still to many nails being nailed to the coffin of liberty.

      • Nancy Sims says:

        Oh…I agree completely! I’m not a Romney “fan”, but at this time, almost anything would be better than Obama in my book. Notice I said “digging our way out”. Doesn’t mean we couldn’t fall right back down . In fact, I think it’s gone to far, and doesn’t matter who is in office, in so much as we are in for drastic, horrible times. Whether we like it or not, we are tied into this global mess…finance, energy, food shortages, wars and rumors of wars etc. Yes..too many nails. Our redeemer suffered three rather large nails (along with every sin; past, present and future) that we might have ever lasting life. My trust remains in the Lord. You are certainly right about politicians and the loss of our liberty. Thank you again for all you do!

  2. Chris, could you or has anyone ever detailed the warning signs preceding massive rioting around a nation? I’d be interested in what to look for, and say, “Alright family, now we bug out.”

  3. Chris Ray says:

    I’ve not seen anyone detailing what the warning signs of massive rioting nationwide might be. That would be a difficult task I think as what sets people off in one region might not in another. I would suggest just watch the cities closest to you and for protests and any other tensions that might set tempers flaring. If things start to look like there might be a riot, bug out and keep watching.

  4. I was in Rwanda in 1994 when the genocide broke out. In the weeks leading up to this event there were many signs of unrest. There would be a small riot followed by a period of calm and then another riot. Each time the demonstrations would get bigger and the time in between the demonstrations would become shorter. The last demonstration, before the war, shut the country down for one week. I had been watching the political situation in the country and I realized that something big was going to happen. I remember telling my fellow missionaries that “the next time something happens, it’s going to be big.” I however had no idea of how big and was totally caught off guard. The night before it began, all was calm. At 5am the next morning, all hell broke loose. Can it happen in this country? You bet it can! What scares me the most right now is how polarized this country has become in the latest political race. That coupled with the bad economy, the rising prices of and gas make things ripe for unrest.

    • Chris Ray says:

      thanks for sharing your insight. What was the country like before the initial civil unrest and small riots broke out? I know it wasn’t a rich country by any means, but was the economy doing poorly by even their standards?

  5. Good article Chris.
    Warning signs I’ve thought of would be banks closing doors as soon as several people begin withdrawing all they have. My wife worked for a bank years ago(18 yrs) and I remember her telling me that they had trained them to prepare to shut and lock all doors when told by the manager to do so. Then proceed out the back door if its safe and go home. This situation would begin with multiple people wanting to withdraw all their money from the bank. If you knew someone that worked in a bank they might be able to give you a heads up.
    Another would be the shutting down on wireless beginning with social networking in regions. I believe it was San Diego that shut down wireless in a area of commuter trains, when the city thought people were about to protest. It was only one little switch and communication is stopped. Understand though you might be able to call another state but you may not be able to call your friend across town.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Thanks JP. you’re correct that those are both bad signs. A related note on banks; we pulled out a sum of cash a few years ago and were told that most branches only kept $5,000 at any one time. I think since people started using credit and debt cards so frequently they scaled back the amount they keep on hand. So even if there was a bank run, there is a chance not many people are getting all their money on the spot.

  6. Chris, I sent you an e-mail earlier about this topic and you said this article was on the way. I was glad to read this and the link you sent. I must say I’m glad I live in a small Midwest town, 65 folks, and if this should transpire I shouldn’t be immediately affected. This is reassuring for my family, but I have other family and friends who are not so fortunate. I believe God’s hand of judgement is upon the nation and unless we repent as a nation His judgement will reign. If we as Christians standup in our faith this has the opportunity to be a great time of revival… May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and give you peace. K

    • Chris Ray says:

      Hi Keith,

      I don’t know that we’ll see us repent as a nation, though I do pray for revival before judgment. Thank you very much for the blessing.


  7. To answer your question of what the country was like, very much like our country. It was very peaceful, the people extremely kind. There were small differences much like we are experiencing in our political debates, but nothing really stuck out that said “Genocide is coming “. The riots that we experienced near the end were not really any different for some of the riots that we have experienced here in our country. And yet overnight all hell broke loose. I am seeing some of the same things taking place here in this country that I saw over there. And don’t think that because you live in a small town that you will not be affected, it will affect everyone.

  8. I didn’t answer the question about the economy. By their standards the economy was bustling. The problem was a disagreement in ideas.

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