“Oppressive violence and hatred may, ultimately, turn the sheep into wolves.” ― T.F. Hodge
“I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” ~Voltaire
(Day 86 of the federal guidelines for social distancing)
The past couple of weeks have turned explosive on the streets of many great cities in America. If I had a strong opinion on what is happening it would be reflective of Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. She said, “A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city.” “If you want change in America, go and register to vote…That is the change we need in this country.” She went on to say, “We are no longer talking about the murder of an innocent man. We’re talking about how you’re burning police cars on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia.”
I will leave my socio-cultural discussion of these unfortunate events at that. So much news is being written about the subject at hand, that it is beginning to turn into noise that distracts, instead of informs.
Over the past 30 years of my life, I have found myself in the middle of civil disturbances all around the world. They differ little in their genesis. People show up to a demonstration to exercise their first amendment rights by crying out against injustice. Out of nowhere, an oddly disgruntled figure throws a brick through a glass-paned window. Soon several bricks are thrown. Then a police car gets set on fire. A building is burned down. Nobody is certain how all this will end, but the gauntlet has been thrown, and there appears to be little retribution from authorities. Civility has just taken a turn for the worse. Incivility has taken hold of the crowd. Before long, people are joining in a melee in which they had no intention of participating, but the wave of crowd behavior has taken over and a riot ensues.
In this week’s edition of “More than Meets the Eye,” I want to explore what kinds of things we can do to protect ourselves, our organizations, and our communities as civil disturbances spin out of control into uncivil ones, especially in the cities where we may be traveling. We can and should protect ourselves. There is certainly more than meets the eye concerning the ways we may protect ourselves.
Let’s start by talking about what we should NOT do when confronted by a civil disturbance, whether in the United States or abroad. 1. Do not corner or crowd the hostile individual. 2. Do not attempt to touch the individual. 3. Do not blame anyone.
4. Do not “blow-off” the aggressive individual.
When emotions are burning hot, people will engage in activities that normally they would not. This is not to say that their concerns are not legitimate. Most likely their anger is warranted, but when they allow it to control them, they cease to be part of the solution. They are then part of the problem.
What steps should be taken when faced with a civil disturbance that begins to boil in the city in which you are traveling?
- Keep abreast of current news or contact your embassy to request regular updates if you are in a volatile area. Whether you’re planning to visit a potentially volatile region or traveling to a major city that is known for protests, it’s always good to familiarize yourself with the political situation before you go. Try to find out if there have been any recent violent demonstrations at your chosen destination, research what the demonstrations were about, and how the authorities handled them.
- If you hear that a demonstration is taking place, avoid the area or stay in your accommodation until you are sure that it’s safe to go out.
- Before you leave your shelter, establish where the demonstration has taken place, and if possible avoid the area. Take along and consult a map so that you will know where you are at all times.
- If you come across a demonstration, don’t become inquisitive. Simply leave the area, and find another route to your intended destination.
- Should you need to go to an area which experiences a lot of demonstrations, try not to go alone. When possible take someone with you, operating as a team, looking out for each other. Keep close and maintain visual contact.
- Avoid any place where police or security force action is in progress.
- Stay in touch with your embassy or consular office. Let them know your address and phone number. Plan ahead of time, a travel route to the Embassy or Consulate.
- Stay in shape. The stronger you are, the more you increase your chances of evasion or escape. Preparedness is all about doing little things that add up to maximizing your chances of survival. Losing weight, getting in shape now will allow you to run faster, and to be more flexible, when you need it.
- Practice good situational awareness. Situational awareness is not about thinking everyone is out to get you. It’s about “trusting your gut,” taking action on those feelings or intuitions to avoid potential tragedy. Too many of us have become soft, and too trusting. We have become oblivious to the harsh realities of the world. We’ve lost our common sense and street-savvy in this overly-technological modern world, so now we have to re-train ourselves to get them back.
17 Practical Tips…These come from personal experience or from the experience of others with whom I have worked.
- Prepare ahead of time an escape route out of your immediate area, possibly to your embassy or consulate.
- Remain calm. Keep a level head, and your mouth shut. Talking will only exacerbate your problems.
- Don’t get involved. Just clear the area as quickly as you can.
- Drive carefully if you’re in a car. The key is to stay calm and drive normally, avoiding crowds of people as best you can while you make your escape.
- Move away from the riot as calmly as possible. However, one of the worst things you can do in a riot is to try to swim upstream by going in the opposite direction of the crowd. Getting trampled is one of the biggest concerns in a riot, and trying to force your way against the flow of people is one of the quickest ways to wind up on the ground being beaten to death underfoot. Instead, calmly go with the flow of the crowd until an opportunity such as a doorway, an alley, or a side street presents itself. Then, moving laterally, make your way out of the crowd and to safety.
- Avoid heavy-traffic areas. Duck away quietly from the confrontation, and don’t take sides. You can act aloof, put your head down, and duck out into a building or subway for refuge. Why inside? Riots often are public street scenes and are not confined indoors. Inside is where you will find a safe haven if you are away from glass.
- Move to a safe, enclosed area. Walk, don’t run. As you make way to your escape route, keep your head down and eyes averted, while mindfully avoiding confrontation.
- Stay informed. At least one person in your community needs to be keeping an eye on what is going on, as far as current events and news go.
- Try to blend in. Wear clothes that minimize the amount of exposed skin. Now is the time to get out that old flannel shirt and distressed jeans; save the designer fashions for better times. This goes for everyone in your family too. Showing too much skin, wearing bright colors, or anything that attracts a lot of attention should be considered off-limits.
- Carry clean water for rinsing your eyes in case you’re exposed to tear gas. Once you’ve reached an area with fresh air, immediately start to “rinse your face and eyes, don’t wash from the forehead down—that could just risk your eyes to more exposure. Try to let the waterfall off without rolling over another part of the face. Do not rub your face, as the active part of tear gas isn’t actually a gas; it’s a powder that binds to the skin. Remove any contacts and throw them away.
- Do your best to avoid being hit by riot control chemicals or weapons. Getting tear gas in your eyes or shot with a rubber bullet could put you on the ground and leave you unable to defend yourself against the mob. To avoid getting hit with these weapons, stay far away from the front lines of the riot, and keep a careful eye out for signs that nonlethal weapons have been deployed, such as people running away from a particular spot with their arms shielding their faces.
- Keep your documents on your person if you’re traveling abroad.
- Carry an extra cell phone. This may sound difficult, but having a burner phone can be super helpful as you move to safety, especially as it is possible that somebody may take your phone from you in the confusion.
- Have sugar candy on hand to keep up your energy. Keeping your energy up is something that few remember to do, but it is extremely important to your survival.
- Stay off of social media. Social media can be great for staying in touch with friends and family but posting every little thing during hard times is not going to help.
- Carry a First-Aid kit. Medical supplies, remedies, and prescription drugs will likely be in short supply if there is civil unrest.
Uncivil demonstrations are happening all around the world today and there is no sign that there will be any reprieve from these actions anytime soon. Demonstrations are a way for the marginalized in society to be heard. These demonstrations, though often started peacefully create a tender-box of fragility allowing even just one radical to ignite a fire that burns on for ages. To make my point, here is a list of on-going uncivil demonstrations happening even today as you read this.
- In the Philippines, protesters are sounding the alarm over a new anti-terror bill that some fear will suppress free speech.
- Protests in Hong Kong have reignited after Beijing set out to impose national security legislation.
- In Toronto, the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet led to protests against racial inequity, while the police were in her apartment.
- Israelis are protesting the killing of a teacher at the hands of Israeli police and are rallying in solidarity with United States protesters.
- In Brazil, residents have turned out to protest police brutality and to weigh in on ongoing investigations against the country’s president.
- Chileans are protesting Coronavirus lockdowns and food shortages.
It is important that we pay attention to the possibility of demonstrations occurring in places where we may be traveling, and that we take the active precautions that will help us to survive the devastating effects of these often violent events.
Please see the entire “Review” section above for the actions that I recommend and highly endorse.
One In Five Iranians May Have Had Coronavirus: Health Official… https://www.morethanmeets.co/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=the-weekly
The Quick Read About… What’s Happening in Libya… https://time.com/5569624/whats-happening-in-libya/
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org