The Los Angeles riots, which took place in 1992 after the infamous Rodney King trial, are one of the best modern-day examples of what mobs of angry citizens can do to innocent people in a riot — such as when truck driver Reginald Denny was dragged from his truck and beaten.
If civil unrest or some other emergency caused a riot to break out where YOU are, would you know what to do?
I talked to veteran LAPD instructor and SWAT operator Scott Reitz recently, about the psychology of mobs in an effort to pin down exactly how you and your family can prepare to protect yourselves during times of civil unrest and here’s what he had to say…
The LA Riots: Lessons On How To Survive A City In Chaos
As a member of the LAPD during the 1992 “Rodney King Riots”, one of the interesting things I found was that it all happened within just a matter of hours.
It’s pretty amazing when you think about it…
I mean, back then, cell phones weren’t common, and while there sort of was an “internet”, most people didn’t have access to it.
Today, with social media, smartphones, and so forth, that would be a massive accelerant for the message getting out that people are rioting or causing civil unrest or disturbances.
One thing you can be sure of…when civil unrest hits – it will happen almost instantly!
What Widespread Civil Unrest Looks Like In The “Hot Zone”
One of the things about living through a riot was how shocking the transformation of the city was.
When people think the rules don’t apply to them, they go absolutely nuts.
It will quickly look like something out of a disaster film and sound like the Vietnam War out your window.
In fact, it was so dangerous during the ’92 riots, that even many highly-trained, armed police stayed at the command post when the worst of the fighting broke out.
Those were incoming rounds from gang members (not just one or two, but dozens!) shooting at police from the Projects with rifles.
Power grids failed because transformers were shot out.
Traffic was blocked by abandoned and burning vehicles sending up thick palls of smoke.
It was total chaos.
The lesson here: 911 calls may go unanswered… power (and security systems) may go black… you may have no escape route… and roving gangs of armed anarchists with nothing to lose and no one to answer to could be right out your front door.
How To Prepare For Surviving In A City Locked In Chaos…
Of course the best way to avoid a violent mob is to not be there in the first place, right?
But given how quickly these type of events can flare up, that means that you’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on out there.
You can’t afford to be ignorant of current events.
Keep an ear to the rails as to what is happening.
1. Watch Your LOCAL News
National news can give you a “big picture” look at what’s happening in the world and across the country.
But for where you live, you’re looking for micro-coverage from reporters who know the personality of your town or city.
Tune into your local channels when things look like they’re heating up.
2. Watch Social Media
If something nuts is going on in the social or political scene, take a careful assessment of your local “threat matrix” to see if you’re in a hot-zone.
(Editor’s Note: A good example is if you live near a Mosque when there has been a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric in your local area and there’s a threat of backlash.)
3. Search For “Planned Protests”
If a controversial event has taken place, do an internet search for planned protest events.
Typically you’ll find bulletin boards (sometimes nationally, sometimes locally) that announce meeting spots, times and even planned routes for rallies.
Civil Unrest Can Touch Anyone.. Anywhere… Anytime!
Any polarizing event can turn neighbors into madmen under the right circumstances and when rule of law has been destroyed.
Even a simple police shooting, if it’s controversial, can spark an entire riot, (such as recently in Baltimore).
Whether the shooting is justified or not doesn’t matter.
It’s how people react to it that matters.
The question is, could YOU protect yourself and others if things went that bad, that quickly?
Are you training for conditions like that?
If you’re not, there’s a serious gap in your training that could one day force you to escape and evade chaos.