It is a nice, happy thought to expect people to come together when tragedy strikes. In some cases, this does happen, such as when a natural disaster strikes and people band together, vowing to rebuild. However, in the case of human tragedy, that is not always the case and sometimes the worst in people comes out rather than the best. In scenarios such as these, the people with good intentions are often outnumbered by those who are not so inspired, which is when looting and violence erupts amongst the masses.
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When mob mentality takes over, the world becomes a scary place. Studies have shown that it takes only a small portion of a crowd to plunge the rest into a pattern of civil unrest. Events such as the Penn State riot following the dismissal of Joe Paterno, the Vancouver Stanly Cup riot, the WTO Ministerial Conference 'Battle in Seattle', and the ongoing struggles in Ferguson, Missouri are prime examples of emotions running high which led to theft and destructive behavior. Though such events are said not to directly correlate to poverty, looting is frequently seen, and though looters often frequent stores and businesses, don't doubt for a minute that your home or survival shelter is immune.
Unfortunately there is no town or city immune from mob mentality and the resulting civil unrest. It is unpredictable in nature, as are the events that often spawn it. There is nothing you can do to prevent it, but you can take steps to protect yourself. Ultimately when society starts to break down, you have to be ready to break bad, but there are other tactics you can attempt to employ as well.
1. Keeping your distance is the most logical option. Stay out of known trouble areas, taking the long way around if you must. Don't go out at night as that is often when rioting and looting behaviors spike. Barring emergencies in which you have to leave, hole up and stay on the defensive until the smoke clears.
2. If going out is unavoidable, make an effort to blend in with the crowd, staying away from the front where the most violent, gung-ho individuals are typically found. Even if you do not support their objective, for a moment in time you may have to suck it up and be one with the masses. Being a brightly colored fish in a pool of sharks will only end badly, so do what you must to look the part. Move with the flow, not against, and join them in chanting about their cause. Pick up a sign if you must, but don't pick up a new TV.
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3. Stay as calm as you possibly can. When it comes to avoiding drawing attention to yourself, there are a lot of failure points, such as fear, anxiety, or nervousness. Even if you feel these things on the inside, you mustn't show them on the outside. Looking nervous makes you look out of place which in turn makes you a sitting duck, calling attention upon you. Along the same lines, you need to control your anger. Although you may be extremely ticked off at the events unfolding around you, in order to move seamlessly through the madness, you will have to swallow that anger and keep on moving.
4. Be prepared for anything, up to and including needing to defend yourself. Carry some sort of protection tool or weapon with which you are comfortable and be prepared to use it. Keep in mind, however, that the size and number in a crowd of angry rioters can easily exceed the number of rounds in your magazine, which is why trying to keep cool and blend are of the utmost importance, especially when you consider the likelihood that those people are armed as well. Take this into account and have an exit strategy before you pull your weapon.
5. Be vigilant whether you are moving about on the streets or holed up in your home. Keep an eye out for anything out of place. Listen for strange or unexpected sounds. Prepare to extinguish fires as they are commonly lit by rioters. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Seeing the possibility of violence before it unfolds could be the small measure it takes to save your life.
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Surviving in a situation where mob mentality has taken over can prove quite difficult, especially for lone individuals. Self-defense training and weaponry can go a long way, but you must be ready, willing, and able to use it without exhausting yourself or your supplies before you prevail. Do not expect to rely on solely police who will likely have their hands full and on the defensive themselves. It is important, too, to remember that you cannot negotiate or use logic against an angry mob, as it is a lack of those qualities that evoked their violent reaction in the first place. As a survivor of the Rodney King riots, I wish you the best.
Have you ever found yourself in contact with an angry, violent crowd? What did you do to evade and survive? Let us know in the comments.