It’s not my imagination. Angry groups of people are gathering together more and more often, protesting perceived injustice, failure of leadership, the financial malpractice by our government and banks, and just about any unpopular decision made by a governing body. Sometimes these groups go so far as to cast their anger, and blame, on those far from the source of their original complaint. They may even show up at the private homes of individuals they have targeted for one reason or another.
Riots and mobs have long been a part of life in second and third world countries, and as America’s fortunes continue to spiral downward, it’s highly likely that, at some point in the future, you will be confronted with surviving an encounter with a mob.
Just recently a small group of self-identified, “anarchists” attacked a Starbucks in New York City.
Reading the article, a few facts jumped out at me.
- Only 25 people were involved in the group.
- Those inside Starbucks must have been terrified with no place to go and probably no forms of self-defense.
- The anarchists advertised their event.
- Some were wearing masks, increasing their anonymity.
- They were willing to attack private property and law enforcement alike.
The problem with people
People are unpredictable and as a general rule, the larger the group, the lower the overall IQ. How else can you explain the crazy college students who go out and burn police cars to celebrate winning a championship game? Think about it. These young people had to present their high school transcripts and take at least one admissions test in order to be accepted. Then, they set cars on fire because their team won or lost a game. A large group of people with a lower collective IQ and fueled by alcohol is an even deadlier combination.
Another issue when it comes to protests and demonstrations is that it increases the cloak of anonymity that people believe they have. They feel free to do what they have always wanted to do but felt constrained by the fear of being identified. Look at this photo of a protest that took place in Iran and you’ll see what I mean. How likely will anyone remember the dark-haired guy in the white shirt a third of the way from the front?
Many of these groups are made up of cowardly bullies who would never confront a police officer on his/her own or break windows or strip innocent bystanders, but when they are part of a larger group, they’re emboldened to do things that they would never do alone.
A final issue with mobs of people is that they adjust their behavior to that of those around them. You can see this occasionally in photos and videos when one protester will glance at others around him and raise his voice, increase his level of anger, raise his fist, etc. The mob, not the individual, is in control.
Where does law enforcement come in?
I spoke with a few individuals in various law enforcement departments, and here is the gist of their advice: You’re pretty much on your own if you are ever caught in a riot or other violent demonstration.
That’s right. Police and other law enforcement departments have multiple plans for dealing with angry mobs. What they don’t have are plans for rescuing you if you are caught in the middle. You absolutely must have a plan for staying safe. Not for taking on a hundred people single handed, just staying safe and getting away.