…And what to do if you are caught in one.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that Charlotte just went through a round of civil unrest that included two days of rioting. Needless to say, this has served as a wake-up call for many people in Charlotte and people that were working under the impression of “it’ll never happen here”. With this blog entry I’m going to try to provide some insight into the things that I saw while in the middle of ground zero and some steps we can take to help keep ourselves safe when incidents like this pop up around us. Over the coming weeks we may expand upon some of the things we will mention simply so we can do those individual subjects the justice they deserve.
Be aware of what is going on in the area you are in. While I was working around the riots, it wasn’t uncommon to see people that were completely oblivious roll right into the middle of the violence. These people had their vehicles damaged, some people were assaulted, and all of them placed themselves in grave danger when it was completely avoidable.
So how do we stay aware of what is going on in the area that we are in? This can be accomplished multiple ways with a minimal amount of work. One of the easiest ways is to pay attention to the local news for your area. This can be done by looking at the website for local newspapers/TV stations, listening to police scanners, or simply catching TV or radio news updates. No one is saying that you have to stay glued to the TV or radio; but check out the news at the top of the hour while you are out driving around (AM news talk stations are great for this) and you’ll generally be kept in the loop about what’s going on. I would stay away from national media sources since they are less likely to have the latest information (if they have any at all about the area you are in).
Be situationally aware. While some might think this is the same as knowing what is going on in your area, it is more of a sister concept. Staying aware of what is going on in your area is basically you having a big picture (regardless of how limited) of events underway in the area/region. When I talk about being situationally aware I mean being acutely aware of what is happening in your immediate area. In the case of the Charlotte riots, people that were situationally unaware were the people that continued to drive towards intersections that had giant crowds of rioters that were surrounding vehicles and damaging them. These were also the same groups of rioters that were assaulting bystanders, members of the media, etc and even trying to throw one person on to a burning barrel that was in the middle of the road. When you are out and about, you have to keep your head on a swivel and pay attention to what is going on. In civil unrest situations, rarely does a bad situation just pop up out of nowhere……there’s almost always signs that bad stuff is headed your way.
Have a plan aka start gaming out what you would do in different situations. These plans can range from planning what to do when the zombie hordes attack to having an idea of what to do should your vehicle be surrounded to an angry crowd.
Know more than one way to get to where you are headed. You HAVE to know more than one way to get around town. While GPS devices can quickly recalculate routes and give you a new way to get to Aunt May’s house; it is much better to already know several ways to get there should your spidey sense start tingling. Another thing to consider is that messing with a GPS device is one of the last things you will be thinking about should you find yourself in the middle of a riot.
Don’t be a sightseer. On the third or fourth day of the protests, I ran into two guys sitting in the back of a jacked-up pickup truck. The two guys appeared to be fairly clean-cut guys and they were sitting in the bed of the truck listening to the radio. These guys caught my attention so I asked them what they were up to. They simply told me that they were stationed at Ft Bragg and had decided to drive down and watch the riot. While I’m sure they could take care of themselves should something happen, there is no sense in exposing yourself to danger for no reason. It was also fairly common to see people walking into the middle of the protesters while holding cell phones so they could take pictures of the protest and let all of their friends on Facebook know how cool they were. Again; be smart and stay out of danger.
Have some gear. Gear covers a lot of things and should cover multiple situations you might face. Having food and water so you could stay at the office if the roads are too dangerous to drive is something to think about. Having a gun might be an option for some people for some situations. Something that will be making its way into my vehicles is a fogger style pepper spray unit. One of these pepper spray units will give me a less lethal option for moving a crowd away from my vehicle, or me, should things go sideways.
Be ready to do some “fancy” driving. Should you find yourself on the road and headed toward immediate danger, don’t be afraid to cast the rules of the road aside and drive your car like you just stole it. This means possibly driving over medians, driving the wrong way, or possibly even driving down a side walk. If you decide to do this, make sure you are being safe and don’t drive like a manic and start running people off the road.
Finally; recognize that if you get caught inside your vehicle, and it’s a lethal force situation, you are sitting inside a multiple thousand pound weapon. If you are truly in fear for your life, be conscious that one of your most powerful weapons is the vehicle that you are sitting in. While it is currently fashionable to learn how to shoot through windshields and do the Dying Cockroach outside of a vehicle with a carbine in your hands; a much better option is to simply drive out of the danger area. Does that mean you might run someone over? That is exactly what may happen.
That’s it for now. As I mentioned at the start, we are going to come back to some of these topics and address them in individual blog entries in the coming weeks. Be sure to keep and eye out for them and be safe out there.
Until next time