What the Ferguson Riots Can Teach You About Civil Unrest

August 21, 2014 by | Be the first to comment »

Regardless of your opinion of the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, the riots and police response that followed should be eye-opening for anyone who thought this is still the America we grew up in.

People used to be capable of hashing out their differences passionately, yet peacefully. Police used to be capable of reducing conflict instead of escalating it. Journalists used to be capable of objectively reporting facts instead of their opinions. Today, none of those things are true.

As the actions of both rioters and police grew increasingly antagonistic and violent, and the media spun events to fit their political agenda, a few things became painfully clear.

The problem is rarely the real problem

There were a few people carrying signs emblazoned with slogans about wanting “justice” for an unarmed man being shot, but based on their words and actions, we know that’s not what they really wanted. If they wanted justice, they would have demanded that all evidence, such as the dashcam video, security videos, and cellphone videos from eye witnesses to be introduced into court. They would have demanded due process. Instead, many demanded that he be prosecuted—even before all evidence had been collected.

But most of the “protesters” weren’t even protesting, they were looting local businesses for their own enrichment, running out with shoes, electronics, and alcohol. They used the shooting as an excuse. If caught in the middle of these people, claiming to share their beliefs wouldn’t help you because they aren’t what they claim.

Violence will escalate faster than you think

We all have a bug out bag in our trunk, right? (If not, get to work!) Unfortunately, that may not be enough because violence grows exponentially, both in terms of severity and range. Ferguson went from normal to a complete societal collapse in less than 24 hours. You need to be ready to bug out at the first sign of trouble, but you also need to be ready to button up in case you don’t have time to get out.

You’ll need to be even more proactive if members of your family are at several locations. For example, if unrest broke out in my town during the day, I would have to get my children from two different schools, my wife from her work, all from a fourth location. If you’re situation is similar, as it is for most people, plan accordingly.

Have several per-determined bug out locations and several routes to each planned ahead of time, along with a detailed bug in plan. Keep plenty of food, water, and weapons on hand, and make sure you’re vehicles always have at least half a tank of gas.

You’re on your own

The police response will be weak at first. As the violence escalates, they will likely retreat and regroup. It happened in Ferguson. It happened in LA. It’s happened in every major riot in US history.

When they do roll back into town, they won’t be there to protect you. Their primary mission to to protect each other while enforcing the will of the government. It’s a show of force. By now you’ve seen plenty of coverage of the riots. Did you see any police guarding homes or businesses? No, they stood in platoon-sized groups surrounded by MRAPs firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the rioters. (And journalists trying to cover the events, but that’s another story.)

Look, I’m not bashing the police for looking out for their own safety—I fully expect them to do so just as I would, my point is that they are there to protect each other, not you.

Make sure you have enough weapons and ammunition, and that you know how to use them. Even then, avoid conflict if possible. It’s always better to avoid a gunfight than to win one. I suggest making your home look unappealing to looters.

If all else fails…

It’s probably a 50/50 chance that you’ll get caught in the middle of the fray unless you’re already safely at home. If so, you need to know how to survive a riot, and it won’t be pretty.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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