Riots, or civil disturbances, are any large unruly gathering of people. They may occur for political, social, religious, or other reasons. They can be extremely dangerous especially due to unpredictability.
Riots are the violent expression of civil unrest triggered by any number of reasons- political dissatisfaction, perceived or real injustices, a local sports team's victory or defeat, or any number of external social factors. A riot is not civil disobedience, though it may start as such. A riot can be "mob rule", or it can be violent anarchy. A riot, and the accompanying police response, can spread quickly from their point of origin to other locations without warning. Do NOT assume that an external factor such as race, political affiliation, or even press credentials will keep you safe during a riot.
Preparing for a Riot
It is unlikely that one would have advanced enough warning to begin preparing for any specific riot, therefore it is recommended that individuals take general precautions and preparatory steps that are relevant to any form of riot. These include:
- Stockpiling several days of food and water for you and your family (pets included!) Don't forget water for cleaning and bathing.
- Owning and maintaining firearms and a supply of ammunition for them, where legal.
- Regularly train with them so you are proficient with them if necessary.
- Even with weapons and training, follow all local laws and common sense about use and display of weapons.
- Having adequate means of producing fire and electricity for a short period. This includes hand cranked flashlights, portable or roof top Solar panels or wind generators, candles, matches, gas stoves and so forth. Make sure to have adequate amounts for each person (i.e. not just 1 flashlight, but one for each family member). Don't forget those batteries either!
- Have adequate means of putting out a fire- arson is a popular crime during a riot.
- Understanding the vulnerabilities of your home or apartment. Do you live in an urban, suburban or rural area? If you live in an apartment, what floor are you on and what are the security implications for defense or escape. Where are the points of entry/exit (doors, windows, balcony, etc)? In the event of an intrusion, where will you fall back to?
- Taking steps to protect your dwelling. Do your windows have shutters? Do you have cheap laminate doors or solid wood/metal ones? How easily can your locks be broken? Do you have an alarm system? Video cameras?
- Have an emergency plan for your family. Everyone may not be at home when riots break out.
- Consider your escape. If you need to leave your dwelling, where will you go? How? Is your car protected in a garage, or could it have already been destroyed by vandals? If destroyed, how will you leave? Where will you go, and how will you get there? Highways may be blocked. What will you do in case of fire?
- What do you live near? The locations of police and fire departments near you are important, as are places to procure supplies like Wal-Mart and Target should there be prolonged disorder. Understand that these commercial locations will be hit first and hardest- there may not be supplies available, and those locations may not be safe. Likewise, travel may o
During a Riot
If you find yourself in a riot (and are not intent on breaking any laws), there are a number of options one can take to avoid becoming a victim of violence by rioters or police:
- Leave the area!
- Stay inside!
- Do not draw undue attention to yourself and make yourself a convenient target for violence. Not including any specific actions that may gather attention, this includes displays of force (do not go about openly armed), displays of allegiance to any particular group (like a rival football team or political party), displays of wealth, nationality, or anything else that might make you a target for opportunistic criminals. Remember that they are not targeting you, they are targeting what you represent.
If you are detained by the police, cooperate fully and sort the rest out with your lawyer afterward.
Depending on the scale of the riots and your proximity to them, order and public services may or may not be quickly restored. One must plan for both contingencies.