Now by riot I am referring to a form of civil disorder commonly characterized by a group lashing out in a violent public disturbance against authority, property or people. The type of riot I am referring to is different from an insurrection or TEOTWAWKI. It is normally limited in scope and while it can cover large areas such as the WATTS riots in Los Angeles is normally confined to a limited area.
A major riot will normally only occur in a large city or in a venue where large numbers of people gather. So far there have not been significant riots in small communities, but this could change due to inflammatory issues that make the headlines and then are amplified for days and weeks.
Now I know that most people have never been in a riot. About 1970 I was in a couple while working undercover. At one, I was even caught on the wrong side of an advancing people line. Not a good place to be when the clubs come out. I was able to stay safe because I blended in with the crowd and they thought I was one of them.
So how do you stay safe in a riot? The best way is to avoid being there and this is often simpler than it sounds. In the riot, I was in you could see it coming. When the crowds start to gather and the anger starts to build, it is time to leave. Even with flash mobs, you can tell when they start to gather. Unfortunately, many people stay to watch what is going to happen out of curiosity. This can be a case of curiosity kills.
Trust your instincts and pay attention to what’s going on around you. When you see people massing, it’s time to leave. Resist the urge to stand around and watch the flash mob’s display. Things can go from fun and light-hearted to violent very quickly. Always have an evacuation plan.
When attending any large public event, you and your family should have at least two emergency meeting locations. If you and your family members are separated and cell phone service is disrupted, you need to know how to get back together. Have one meeting location within the event and one outside the event. Your vehicle may be a good choice for the second location.
If you are caught in a mob, try to not attract attention. If you have a hood pull it up. Try to look like you are one of them and work your way out of the crowd. Get into a building if you can preferably one with several exits. Often you can go out the doors on the other side of a large building and get away.
If the police are in attendance in force, try to get behind the police lines. If they are in limited strength and under attack, stay away from them. The police are not there to protect bystanders — it’s important to realize that.
I’ve listed an additional 16 tips for staying safe in situations like these in this article.
For most of us, fighting your way out is not much of an option. If you have a firearm, keep it out of sight. If you have to use it to defend your life, the surprise may give you a slight edge, but keep moving. Don’t use a firearm to threaten, people may very well shoot at you and if your family is with you, they are now in the line of fire.
You always need to be thinking of escape.
You may need to abandon your car, be very careful about driving through crowds. I would prefer to be on foot and try to mix in, than get pulled out of my car when the traffic comes to a halt.
Remember, in most of these cases, maybe all of them, you will be greatly outnumbered. Even with a firearm, if you are swarmed by 5-10 people, or more, you’re in a very dangerous situation. This goes back to my first piece of advice. Stay alert and informed of current and local events and try to not be anywhere near an outbreak of group violence.