Mobs And Cars

If there is one think I can count on from the good folks over at KSG Armory is to get me thinking and a recent F@ceBook post did that yet again. They posted a video of an altercation at a protest in Ferguson. In the video the protesters have shut down I-70 and there is an altercation with at least one of the blocked motorists. You can’t tell from the video exactly what leads up to it but you can see protesters kicking at the car and pounding on the windows. The motorist is then seen accelerating through the crowd.

Unfortunately, I’ve had several close calls with mobs and cars. During a business trip to Tucson I exited a restaurant to find my rental car parked smack dab between the two groups of folks (one set wearing red bandannas and the other set wearing blue bandannas) who were about to engage in violence against each other. I don’t remember the final body count but there was at least one fatality and quite a few hospitalizations as part of that incident, none of which were me or caused by me. Another incident in Oakland, also on a business trip, found me speeding away from the scenes of a “peaceful protest” against police violence that left several people hospitalized, businesses looted (including the one I had just left) and cars damaged and flipped. Mine was not one of them. The image of a mob of people flipping cars and smashing windows in my rear view mirror is not one I will soon forget. Nor, am I likely to forget the images of the of the beatings at Normandie and Florence during the LA Riots in 1992 especially the images on Reginald Denny having his skull crushed on live TV. Here are some excerpts if you don’t remember:

Mr. Denny survived, barely, but with significant, permanent damage. In all, he suffered over 90 skull fractures from the kicks, concrete, hammer and bricks. His left eye socket was destroyed and when he reached the emergency room his eye had shifted out of the socket and into his nasal cavity. I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to avoid Mr. Denny’s fate and I wanted to share those with you.

  1. Avoid them – Awareness is the most important self-defense tool we have and the easiest to use. It’s also the least risky to use. Yes, I’d prefer to listen to music when driving but listening to news and traffic reports instead will help make sure you’re not caught in the mix. As a compromise and if you have a smartphone, you could use a traffic app instead. It may not provide as much warning or information as the radio but…
  2. Stay in your vehicle – The most deadly weapon you own weighs over a ton, has four tires and a motor. It also provides a pretty good level of protection against mobs; unless you drive something like a Miata. Leaving your vehicle should ALWAYS be an absolute last resort. Given a choice between being in a car that is flipped over or set on fire and running like hell I might run but other than that, probably not.
  3. Traffic Laws Are Optional – If you are in danger; red lights, lane markers, direction of traffic medians, and pretty much any traffic law is less important than your safety. Use whatever escape route is available. That route might be over curbs or the median. It could mean going the wrong way, hitting other cars or protesters. If your life is at risk a fender bender means little. At some point you have to decide when the ticket or some suspension damage is less important than NOT being Reginald Denny.
  4. Blend in – Does it matter whether the mob is right or not if you are dead? Chant along with them. Write some supportive slogans on notebook paper. If you have to abandon your vehicle try and blend in, go with the flow of the mob until you can escape. Oh, and and lose the tie. Avoid confrontation with anyone in the mob. Keep in mind that while bumper stickers sharing your political and social point of view are a protected right under the Constitution, they may also mark you as a target. You have to decide if exercising that right is worth the risk.
  5. War Wagon – A vehicle can be a much more effective weapon against a mob but keep in mind that using a vehicle as a weapon carries the same requirements as any other use of deadly force.

As I mentioned, I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about these situations and I have had some close calls. I may have even had to use some of these recommendations. The rental car in Tucson? I have no idea how the suspension was damaged, or the curb near the restaurant, or the shrubbery (cacti). I can say that if Oakland had red light cameras back in the day, the tickets never made it to me.  However, that does not mean that I have all the answers.

Do you have some ideas on how to stay safe in such situations? Awesome! Please share them in the comments section.

Stay safe out there folks…

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