So…you’re out on the street or shopping in the mall when, all of a sudden, a scourge of teenage blacks appears; cackling, hooting, jumping, throwing things, gesturing, laughing, screaming. They quickly fill the area where you are and, before you know what’s happening, violence ensues. Maybe a fight breaks out among them or maybe they look to be on the verge of attacking the people they are coming upon. It may seem like you are next.
So…what do you do?
1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings–As stated in other entries on this blog, DON’T GO WHERE YOU KNOW IT ISN’T SAFE. Avoid being in places you aren’t familiar with, ESPECIALLY after dark. Most towns and cities have areas that are dangerous to wander into. Find out where they are. Stay out of them. That rule alone will save you from trouble 85% of the time.
But no matter where you are, be vigilant:
Who can you see around you? How are they behaving? How are they speaking? Are they loud and boisterous? Where is their attention? Do they seem to be waiting for you to pass? Many times, trouble can be escaped before it begins. Allow your instincts to guide you; don’t stay where you are nervous or uncomfortable or where a group menaces.
2. Know the Map or Floorplan–Those maps they have all over the place in malls aren’t just to help you find Foot Locker. They also list exits, bathrooms, stairwells, elevators, etc. Know where you are going and be aware of possible escape routes or refuges from trouble along your route. If you are on the street, go out during regular business hours when stores and restaurants are open. Always have your eyes open for where you might be able to go if a sudden mob of “youths” appears.
3. If A Group Appears And Trouble Starts, Get Out of the Center–Drop any superfluous belongings you are carrying and move to the edge of the group as quickly as you can. Try to avoid passing through the most crowded part of the mob. Get to the edge, get your back to a wall if you can and get between the trouble and your children, if they are with you. If you are a couple, walk on either side of your child or children or carry them on your hips, tucked against your bodies to the inside, between you (see below). One should guide the other with eyes front, with one watching behind. Move steadily and avoid eye contact with any “youths” you see “wilding” as it may invite an attack. In order to ascertain intentions from head movements, keep your eyes on chins. Seek shelter and/or distance from the mob. Don’t engage verbally with rioters.
3a. Dial 911–I have heard it said that if you have a cell phone with you, you can dial 911 and leave the phone engaged, even if you can’t speak while escaping. That will allow authorities to trace the closest cell tower and dispatch help accordingly.
4. Armed–If you are armed with a firearm, don’t flash your weapon or wield it openly unless you are assaulted directly; it may unnecessarily turn a ruckus into a riot or, worse, a stampede or crush. However, if you are so threatened as to be forced to draw it, use it immediately. People will generally move away from the noise of a gunshot. If you use some other form of incapacitating defense, announce it. Shout “Pepper spray!” at the top of your voice.
5. If Alone, Find and Assign Yourself a Partner–You can turn to a complete stranger who is obviously as stuck as you are and say: “Let’s YOU and I stay together and get out of here.” Research has shown that this “buddy system” is a good way to avoid the “Kitty Genovese” effect. People will develop a strong and sudden sense of mutual protection in a crisis IF social awkwardness is consciously worked against. Look a person in the eye, take them by the hand and lead/take them out with you. Tell them you need them to keep an eye on what is coming.
6. Stampede–One of the reasons you seek a wall is to help you keep your feet and avoid the surge of the crowd, should it happen. There is excellent information out there on surviving crowd panics and crushes, and they are essential reading for intelligent people.
7. Get Away, Get to Shelter–Leave the area of the disturbance; get as far away as possible or inside a business, elevator, bathroom, etc. and put walls between you and trouble. Bar the door if necessary. Call authorities and give details.