In any severe crisis or disaster, there is a risk of a breakdown of society. Even if there isn’t a complete breakdown, there’s the possibility of demonstrations, rioting and mob violence. It doesn’t take much for a crowd to form, protesting something; all it takes is an expectation of bad news. Any crowd can quickly turn into a mob and become violent.
Even without any help, mobs can do crazy things. When the Argentinean economy collapsed in 1999, they overturned public transit buses and set them on fire. When the Grand Jury failed to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, the mob burned down 25 businesses in their community.
Mobs rarely are left alone to take whatever action they see fit. There are always instigators looking for such an opportunity. They are quick to show up at any mob situation and turn it to their purposes. In most cases, it is these professional rabble-rousers who turn mobs violent, as a form of violence against the established order in general.
In order to avoid falling victim to a mob, it helps to understand a little bit of what’s going on in that mob’s collective mind. I say collective mind intentionally, because you’re really not dealing with people’s individual thoughts; you’re dealing with a collective reasoning; one that is usually directed by people who have nefarious purposes in mind.
There’s something interesting that happens to people in a mob situation; they lose their individuality. They literally stop thinking for themselves and start accepting the mob’s thinking as their own. If the mob gets angry, they get angry; even if they don’t understand why. If the mob starts running, they start running; even if they don’t know where they are going. If the mob is turning over a bus, they’ll help turn over the bus.
Along with losing their identity, people in a mob lose their inhibitions. Normally calm, meek, law-abiding citizens may commit heinous crimes, simply because the mob is doing so. There’s a sense of anonymity in a mob, so people aren’t worried about being identified. If they can’t be identified, then they won’t be punished for their actions.
Since the fear of reprisal is what keeps most of us from committing crimes, removal of that fear gives us the liberty to resort to the basest emotions and instincts. Hence, the mob easily becomes violent, allowing all of their pent-up anger out, regardless of whether what they are angry about has anything to do with what the mob is doing or not.
Avoiding the Mob
The best thing you can do with any mob is to totally avoid it. That means avoiding large gatherings of protesters as well as avoiding places where they might gather. You never know which “peaceful protest” will suddenly turn violent, so you are best off not being involved in any of them.
In times of unrest, a police scanner is an invaluable tool to help you know what’s going on and avoid any potential mob situations. If a crowd or demonstration turns violent, the first place where you can receive any news about it is via a police scanner. The police will be working to track the mob, even as they try to disperse it. Their actions will be announced over the scanner.
What if You’re Caught in the Mob?
Even if you try to do everything you can to avoid a mob, you might find yourself caught in one someday. If you do, your goal has got to be to get out of the mob and get away safely. However, you can’t just walk away. To do so would identify you as not being part of the mob and put you at risk of becoming a target.
So, the first priority to fulfill if you’re caught in a mob is to blend in with the mob. You need to act like them, while not becoming part of them. That can be tricky, as the same inclination which has caused the other people to become part of the mob can hit you as well. You’ll need to keep your head clear, while deliberately acting like you’re part of the mob. Just don’t do anything you’ll regret later.
Work your way to the edge
While you are acting as part of the mob, look for an opportunity to escape it. That means working your way gradually to the edge of the mob. Don’t walk directly to the edge, as that will make you stand out; rather, take a circuitous route, gradually working your way to the edge. A little play acting here would be good as well, as if you recognize someone and are moving to their position, then recognizing someone else.
If the mob is moving, then move with it, as you are working your way to the back edge of the mob. That’s fairly easy to do, as all you have to do is be a bit slower than everyone else. Eventually they’ll all pass you by. If it would be easier to get to the edge by angling to one side, then do that.
Arrange a pick-up
Once you are on the edge of the mob and before you break free of it, call someone to come and get you. Don’t have them come to where you are, as that will put them at risk. Rather, have them drive to a location a couple of blocks to the side of where the mob is moving and wait for you there. Once you break away, you can have them move closer, but by no means do you want them to get within a block of the mob at any time. Covering that first block will be your responsibility alone.
Breaking away from the mob
Breaking away from the mob is the trickiest and riskiest part of the operation. If the mob is moving, then you’ll want to find a location where you can go down an alley, into an open building or otherwise disappear from the back of the mob quickly, so that nobody can see you go. The idea is to be out of sight in a matter of seconds, before you can be noticed.
If the mob is stationary, you’ll essentially need the same thing. However, you’ll be faced with the fact that the mob is not moving away from you. So, your escape route has to be extremely good for hiding you from the mob. The best is escaping through a building, going in the front door and out the back. You might even be able to do this through a building that is being looted.
Once clear of the mob, put distance between yourself and them as quickly as you can. Call your pick up ride and have them move to intercept you a block away from the mob. Don’t put them in danger! You would be better off having to run farther, than to put them too close to the mob. A moving car is a very attractive target to a mob.
If they get too close, the mob may decide to surround them, blocking them in. In such a case, there’s a very good chance that they would be drug out of their car and at a minimum be severally beaten. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if they were beaten to death.
The only possible defense in a car is to continue moving slowly. Trying to move quickly, if you are within range of the mob, only attracts them. Moving slowly may allow you to push your way through them. When I say slowly, I mean at a crawl. It has to be slow enough that you won’t actually hit anyone, although you will be pushing them with your bumper.