The Los Angeles riots happened decades ago now, but the people and the city still bear the scars of “civil” unrest. The riots became legendary and happened in a decade where news coverage was going through a growth spurt. Across the country, people watched in horror as a city burned down, as National Guard and police clashed with looters and rioters, and as innocent people were thrown in the middle of it.
My generation is looking at the Ferguson, Missouri, riots in the same way. During the L.A. riots people watched the television to see what was happening; my generation has the news, their cell phones and computers. Everyone is a cameraman and everyone is a reporter, and we can have close to a live stream of events.
We should observe and learn from it. The first lesson: Riots can happen anywhere. When you think of riots occurring, what really flashes in your mind? Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Miami, Boston and New Orleans are all large cities with a storied history. Who thinks of Ferguson, Missouri, though?
So how do you survive and escape unharmed from such an event? These riots are like natural disasters: They can cause huge amounts of damage in a very small period of time. Modern technology has made it possible to predict some natural disasters. We don’t have the technology to predict people, but we can observe the “tells” that happen before something like this. Observe social tensions, high profile cases, and know your area. Social tensions can be built around race, religion, economic status, and a general “us vs. them” government tension. Know the people and their ability to cause violence in large numbers.
The best way to survive a riot without a scratch is to simply not be there — to bug out before the disaster happens. This is the easiest way, but that may not be an option. People who own property and businesses are not willing to simply leave them to the mercy of rioters and looters. Sometimes these things can happen without much warning and you can be caught directly in the middle of it. The potential of riots is a clear reason to conceal carry. Most people would rather move past the gun than try to fight it.
So first let’s say you are caught in the middle of a riot without much warning. Here are some options:
1. Go with the riot until you can escape. I’m not saying destroy property, but survival is the most important thing. Go with the riot, and feign anger until you can escape to a safer place.
2. Blend in. Now, when a riot divides people by lines like race, blending into the rioters can be difficult. But if you see those of your race and creed rioting, you have a better chance than being a singularity. Riots are momentum-based; riots are equal parts anger and fear, with an element looking to take advantage of the situation. When you have a chance, drop out.
3. Hide in a building. When it comes to an individual choosing a building to hold firm in, look for a building with multiple exits, as little glass as possible, and one that is not inherently flammable. Commercial buildings are often mandated to have a fire exit, and are often built to resist fire and conform to regulation, but often have a lot of glass. So when choosing a commercial building, find one with little interest to looters like a restaurant, or a home improvement store. Avoid electronic stores, clothing stores, and any place that sells non-necessities; most looters aren’t looking for food or water. One of the best places to hide is a church. They often won’t attract looters, and unless the riot is regarding religion they are unlikely targets.
4. Plan a route out of your home. If the riot is coming near your home, have an established route to bail out when necessary. It goes without saying to have your bug-out bag at hand. Avoid windows and doors, of course. I suggest staying below window level; this will aid in avoiding any projectiles. An excellent room to hunker down in is the bathroom. You have water, most are windowless, and let’s face it: Bodily functions do not stop because of a riot. Some may find the opposite is true. I suggest having three things always at hand: your bug-out bug, a fire extinguisher, and a long gun.
Some of the most legendary footage from the LA Riots was the Korean store owners defending their property and livelihood with guns. In Ferguson, a tattoo parlor became slightly famous when its owners/employees armed up with rifles and protected their store front with modern rifles. Both the Korean store owners and the tattoo parlor are still standing.
Defending your property and your business is a justifiable priority. You did not cause the riot, and your property is, well, your property. Being armed and being armed openly is a deterrent to most people. They are looking for the path of least resistance, and an AR-15 is not that path. If you are going to resist, I don’t suggest going it alone, and I suggest you be prepared to really fight if it comes down to it.
Riots are not always predictable, and not always controllable. Surviving and coping is completely possible. Remember to be resilient and to never panic. Keep your head up and your mind sharp — and your chance of survival increases tenfold.
What would you add to the list? Do you believe Ferguson-type riots could take place near you? Tell us in the section below: