Social unrest is something that is becoming more and more common, and while these incidents range from people justly speaking their frustrations to greedy looting and destruction, riots are something you want to avoid at all costs. As people increasingly feel the need to protest and riot over any perceived injustice, the danger of a full-blown riot becomes more real.
By being prepared for a riot and knowing what to do to stay safe, you can effectively avoid them and the dangers associated with being caught up in one. Check out the steps outlined below and see how you can be more aware and better prepared for a riot.
The Warning Signs
Depending on the type of riot that is breaking out, specific warning signs can vary, but the key idea of “sensing” something bad is nearly always there. If you see a crowd of people carrying protest signs and chanting or yelling, this can be the start of a peaceful protest or all-out riot.
Having situational awareness is crucial to surviving a situation like a riot. Knowing what is happening in the news in and around your area is important, too. Keep a close eye on anything that seems to be emotion-filled or tied to local or national events.
The Easy Way Out
If you can find an easy way out before rioting starts, take it. If your situational awareness is telling you something bad is coming, don’t wait around to see it. It’s all too easy to think that something is happening a few streets over, so it’s no big deal. Don’t get caught up in the moment by watching. Get out as soon as you can.
Be the Grey Man
Even though you’re not part of the riot and just looking to get out, you need to make yourself look like part of the crowd while you make your escape. Blend in and don’t make it appear that you’re just trying to leave.
Don’t do anything illegal or stupid to blend in, but chant along, mirror what others say, and if anyone asks you a question about it, just agree with the general consensus. The worst thing you can do here is stand out. This can make you a target even if you’re indifferent and just want to leave.
Blend in to take attention away from yourself, but only do this as you find a way out. The goal is still to get out as quickly as you can while still being safe.
Go With the Flow
A large crowd of people can be compared to a raging river. The water all flows one direction, making it easy to move with the current and nearly impossible to move against it.
Never go against the flow of a crowd in a riot situation. Not only does this take longer to escape, but it draws unnecessary attention to yourself. Instead, move with the flow of people while aiming yourself at the edge.
Don’t cut across the crowd either, as this is a sure sign you don’t want to be there. By moving forward as you move to the side, it appears you just want to see more of the action. Go with the flow and you’ll be safe while getting out as fast as you can.
Avoid Law Enforcement
Even though you’re not part of the riot and just got stuck in it, law enforcement doesn’t know that. If they were to see you approaching them, it could be considered an attack and they would most likely return your gesture with some form of violence.
Never try to escape past a guarded police line. Sure, you know that you’re just trying to get the hell out of Dodge, but they don’t. For the time being at least, police are not your friends. Get away from them as quickly as you do from the rioters and you’ll have a far better chance of safety and survival.
Prepare for an Attack
Finally, you need to be ready for an attack at any moment. Before, during, and after a riot, emotions are at an all-time high. “Mob mentality” kicks in, and people that would otherwise let many things slide become enraged and ready for a fight.
Simply stepping on someone’s foot or looking like you’re not part of the protest/riot is all it takes to incite violence. It’s tough, but you need to be the grey man while keeping full situational awareness until you’re well outside the danger zone.
When talking about self-defense in a riot situation, things get even more difficult. Depending on the size of the crowd, pulling a gun or other defensive weapon can cause far more harm than good. If you’re perceived to be a threat to the riot itself, everyone around you will work to take you down, and you can’t fight everyone.
This is why escape and evasion are the only truly safe ways to avoid a fight in a riot. Now, if you’re currently being attacked, all bets are off. Do whatever you can to survive if you’re actively being attacked, including pulling your gun. Just remember you’re in a crowd and the chances of an innocent being hurt are extremely high. Basically, consider it your very last resort.
By preparing for an attack, and for a riot as a whole, you can be as safe as possible when civil unrest happens. As these protests are televised and showcased to the world, expect them to be more and more common and pop up more quickly than ever before.