The latest news is that the governor of Missouri has sent the National Guard to Ferguson, MO.
“As night fell in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street and authorities — who said they were responding to reports of gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails — pushed them back by repeatedly firing tear gas. The streets were empty well before a state-imposed curfew took effect at midnight.”
This post is not about the social and political issues raised by the tragic killing of an unarmed man by police. Rather, it’s about the breakdown of law and order, and the outbreak of violence, which can occur in our society for a variety of reasons — and the lessons we might learn and apply to prepping.
Lesson One: Protests can turn violent. People are angry for some reason. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, there will be a disruption in the food supply or an extended power outage or some other SHTF scenario. People become frustrated and then angry. Protesting is a common response in our society. But violence can break out when a large crown is angry.
From a prepping point of view, I personally would stay home, and protest with words not violence. When protests turn violent, bystanders can be injured in the ensuing chaos by protestors or by the police/national guard response. Stay safe; avoid the conflict. (But, hey, it’s a free country. If you want to protest peacefully, you are free to do so.)
Lesson Two: Police can be overwhelmed. Some news reports quote business owners as saying that police were not intervening to stop looting. Put enough violent protestors on the street, and police lack the resources to intervene. Then the violence can escalate to looting, vandalism, and gunfire. This leaves business owners in a difficult situation.
Why is the right to bear arms a right? People have the right to the pursuit of happiness, which might include recreational shooting and hunting. But the amendment says “militia” and “arms” (a military term) because its primary purpose is defensive: self-defense, home defense, defense of the community, State, or nation. You can’t always rely on the police or the standing army. Self-defense is an ancient right.
Lesson Three: City living is more dangerous when the SHTF. Having more people in a smaller area presents additional dangers when there is a severe disaster of any kind. It is easier for violence to break out and the police to be overwhelmed because a large angry crowd can gather quickly. In another scenario, if the power is out, there will be too many people in any one location to obtain food or water from the environment.
And it may be difficult to bug out. Violent protestors can shut down roadways and make travel dangerous. Or if everyone decides to evacuate an area all at the same time, the ensuing traffic jam traps many people on the open road. And that may be a less safe location than home.
Lesson Four: Government has a tendency to escalate conflict. Violence by protestors leads to violence by police. Continued violence by protestors leads to a call for the national guard. Violence leads to more violence. Use of force in self-defense, to whatever extent is necessary in the circumstances, is a right. But violent protests only provoke more violence. And we can’t count on government leaders to deescalate the conflict, or to take steps to calm angry crowds.
Lesson Five: Modern commerce is a fragile thing. Civil disorder or a power outage or a superstorm or some other disaster can quickly result in the closure of businesses. Suddenly, you can no longer make a quick trip to the store for necessities. Self-sufficiency, stored food and water, and the knowledge and skills to survive without Walmart and Home Depot, will serve preppers well when the SHTF.