Over the last year I have sat and watched the evening news and I don’t think more than a week ever went by without me seeing violent protests occurring somewhere in the world, often right here in the U.S.
From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Protests there were angry people in the streets clashing with police. Luckily here in the U.S. these protests did not escalate and were kept under control. In other parts of the world they led to full scale revolution and even civil war. I’m not sure anyone has even tried to make an accurate count of the number of people killed, injured, made homeless, or forced to flee their land.
That is why I wanted to write about civil unrest and how I see it as perhaps the most looming and dangerous man-made disaster.
Think about what we have here in the U.S. In many cases we have urban centers that are riddled with crime sitting side by side with wealthy neighborhoods (see my previous post which discusses issues of Proximity). We’ve got a high unemployment rate, which tends to make people more than a little cranky. Our economy has been sluggish at best and our two main political parties seem to be further apart than at any time I can remember. Also racial inequality, while perhaps better than it has been in the past, is still quite prevalent.
So is it just me or are we perhaps one event away from full scale rioting? Lately I get the feeling we’re just that one straw away from breaking the proverbial camel’s back. Whether it’s another Katrina scale hurricane, an earthquake that leaves a major city in turmoil, or a Rodney King type incident, I feel like people in this country are on their last nerve and could easily snap.
In the past when we’ve experienced civil unrest it has generally taken the form of angry mobs clashing with police, burning cars and buildings, and looting stores. There’s also been plenty of violence directed at regular citizens, not just those in positions of authority. I would expect similar actions in the future, although we may see more organization by those protesting.
For example about a year ago during the Occupy Protests a large group of protesters targeted the Port of Oakland and stopped all the big rigs from leaving the port for a day or so before police could get them to disperse. Imagine this happening all over the country. If our supply chains are disturbed we’ll be looking at food shortages and many other disruptions which could cause further unrest.
Fortunately I don’t think many of these protesters are very bright so it’s unlikely they’ll be able to organize and cause problems at that kind of scale. Although things like the internet, text messaging, and a cell phone in every pocket sure make it easier for those that would like to see full scale rioting to make it a reality.
So how can we Prudently and Reasonably Prepare for civil unrest?
First of all choosing where you live is perhaps the most important thing. Big cities are certainly at risk. Small towns and suburbs, not so much. Personally I think living in a big city puts a person at a major disadvantage in almost any type of disaster situation. For me it’s just a non-starter.
Second of all keep your eyes open for the warning signs and steer clear of any type of protests, even if you expect them to be peaceful. Oftentimes when there are protests the majority of those involved would like to remain peaceful. Unfortunately there are people who attend protests just to cause problems and incite violence. These anarchists come from other cities and sometimes even other states to join protests with the intention of stirring up problems. They could not care less what the purpose of the protest is, their single goal is to incite violence.
Finally, if things are getting too crazy near where you live and you start to fear for your safety or the safety of your family use the “partial bug-out“. This is where you simply get in your car and drive as far as you need to to get to an area that is safe and unaffected by whatever scenario you’re fleeing and you stay there. You check into a hotel or perhaps you take a quick look on Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) and rent a house or cabin for a week or so. I like to keep the partial bug-out in mind as it’s a good option in a pinch and all you need is a full tank of gas and a clean credit card. Of course this would be my absolute last resort, but it’s still nice to have a plan.