Unfortunately, we can’t always predict what is going to happen during a protest. There are plenty of times when a protest starts out peacefully and ends that way. There are also times when a protest turns into a full fledged riot. For times like that, you need to keep your cool and keep your own safety in mind to survive.
The first thing you’ll need to do is stay calm. There will be all sorts of mayhem going on around you, there might be looting happening, things on fire, cars being overturned, all sorts of crazy stuff will be going down. The best thing you can do is maintain your composure. Although there might be unavoidable instances where you need to defend yourself, try to remain peaceful as this will help to prevent your arrest. It’s true that police have arrested people for doing nothing, but you don’t want to give them any reason to arrest you.
By staying calm and assessing the situation, you’ll be able to figure out what to do because every riot is different. Scan your surroundings. Are looters running in a certain direction? Avoid running in the same direction for fear that you might be associated with them. Do what you have to do to keep yourself safe at all times. Drop away from the crowds to avoid the chance of being trampled should there be a stampede.
If you see someone with a weapon or some sort of device that they’re using as a weapon, steer clear of them. Not only will they likely be pursued by the police but they could also use the weapon on you either accidentally or intentionally.
Are the lines breaking right around you? Are the police coming in with pepper spray? You need to be aware of these things to survive a peaceful protest that turns into a riot. Any sort of glasses would be ideal to protect your eyes should you be pepper sprayed by the police. A bandana can also be essential in protecting your face. On top of that, it can help to protect your identity from prying eyes. You’ll look like a bandit from the wild west but you’ll be safe.
You need to be aware of your surroundings if you’re going to get out of this thing unharmed. That involves keeping a keen eye on where you are and understanding the direction of the crowd. If there’s no movement of the crowd, you’re in luck. You can simply find the quickest exit and take it.
If there is movement in the crowd, though, you need to figure out where it’s coming from and where it’s headed. This should be easy enough as you’ll be in the crowd moving with them. Once you figure that out, you’ll want to find the nearest way to exit and take it. If there’s a gap in the crowd to your left, go there. Try not to cut all the way through the crowd if at all possible because this could jeopardize your safety and the safety of others. You want to avoid getting trampled or causing others to get trampled if at all possible. Emotions will be running high in this environment, you don’t want to upset the wrong person or people, as it may be difficult for an ambulance to get to you.
Be aware of what kind of riot has just transpired and avoid drawing unwanted attention to yourself. For example, if you find yourself in the middle of an anti-Trump violent and destructive riot, you might not want to be the only one wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Make sure that you have no weapons on you, not even a Swiss army knife. Even having the smallest weapon could be grounds for a serious charge should you somehow be arrested. Be aware of what the police are doing if you are arrested. If you’re said to be with a weapon when you are not, you’ll have to be aware of your rights. Many people will speak to the police before contacting an attorney, but this is foolish. Don’t speak to any police officer until your attorney is present. You have the right to remain silent, after all.
Another thing you can do is to bring along pepper spray. This isn’t a harmful weapon, but rather a defense tool. Some would advise against this, but it’s important to keep yourself safe no matter what’s going down. You can use the pepper spray against a rioter if they start to attack you. Riots are unpredictable, better to be safe than sorry.
One thing you can count on during a riot, are things being thrown. Another item recommended to have is some sort of head protection, like a helmet.
Take a look at posts that are being put on social media to keep abreast of peaceful protests or possible riots. The best way to avoid walking into a riot is to be aware of whats happening before you get there.
Beyond anything else, you need to stay safe at all times. Depending on the situation, this may be accomplished by getting away from the crowd or by staying in the crowd to avoid injury or the police. Basically, do whatever is appropriate in order to avoid danger.
It’s important to not find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Part of this is unavoidable–there might be passing tides of people, a swell of police officers–but there are things that you can do to minimize the possibility. Use your intuition to figure out what to do and where to go. Ask people around you what’s going on.
Here is some good information from Scott Stewart of Tactical Intelligence shown on STRATFORvideo
If you keep all of these things in mind during a peaceful protest that turns into a riot, you should walk away safely.
Until next time