Issue 36

Civil Unrest

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Things are tense.

The economy is in a shambles.  Unemployment is at historic levels.  

It seems like you can't turn on the TV or read a newspaper article and not hear about a home invasion, or a shooting or some sort of violent act happening.  We've got people flying planes into government offices.  It's all a bit unreal.

But these are all the actions of individuals or small groups of people.  What happens if that expands?  

The reason this topic is being raised at this time is because of what is happening over in Europe.  The causes of their civil unrest could become a reality here in the near future.

  • We all remember the riots in Paris over racial, religious and economic issues.  They seem to pop up every summer since 2005.
  • Iceland essentially became insolvent in 2008, and the normally placid citizens rioted.
  • Greece has been having riots over economic conditions since late 2008.  The last one occurred earlier this week.  
And the civil unrest is spreading.  From the Times of London online edition (2/24/2010) -

A general strike is planned next month in Portugal after a public-sector wage freeze, while Spain is witnessing growing unrest over plans to raise the retirement age. In the eurozone's most indebted countries, collectively known by the trader acronym PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) the young are struggling to find work, the middle-aged are having their earnings squeezed and the old will see pension and benefit cuts.

What might be the reaction here in America if similar economic constraints are placed on us?  Might things happen a bit more quickly here in near-bankrupt California?

How will you as an individual cope with being in the middle of some sort of civil unrest - riots, protests or a general break-down of civil society?

Remember, "mob mentality" is very different from a normal personal interaction.  People, as a group, will sometimes do things they would never consider doing as individuals.

Things you can do to stay safe -

1.  First and foremost, keep alert.  Pay attention to the newspaper and TV and listen for mention of planned demonstrations.  Unless you're planning on being part of the demonstration, try and keep away.

2.  Listen for events or actions that might spark a violent protest.  What high-profile trials, elections, concerts, speeches or other public events have the potential to erupt into violence?  Stay away.

3.  Always, always, always have your personal defense tool with you.  Surprises do happen.  Be prepared.

If you find yourself caught-up in the middle of a violent demonstration -

1.  If the police have given orders to disburse, follow their instructions to the letter.  Because of the large numbers of people, they will have no time to identify who is a participant and who is an innocent by-stander.  Limit your chances of arrest, being tear gassed or worse by complying with their orders.  Now is not the time to take a stand!

2.  If you are the object of an attack, attempt to take cover.  Do whatever you can to place large objects or structures between you and the attackers.  Be careful, though, not to "paint yourself into a corner" by choosing a location with no secondary means of escape.

3.  Be prepared to defend yourself.  Hopefully, you will have your defensive tool with you, but grab anything that is available.  You may be injured, but you must have the mental attitude that you will not give up until the danger has passed.

Next issue:  Know Your Limitations

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