Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Emergency Preparation, Part 11: "How America’s Cities May Explode In Violence"


Author 'Matthew Bracken' (it's a pseudonym, AFAIK), author of the controversial book 'Enemies Foreign And Domestic' and several sequels, has written a very grim article predicting possible violence in America's cities as the current economic crisis worsens.  Here's an excerpt.

Instead of a small town in the South as the flash point, picture instead a score of U.S. cities in the thrall of riots greater than those experienced in Los Angeles in 1965 (Watts), multiple cities in 1968 (MLK assassination), and Los Angeles again in 1992 (Rodney King). New Yorkers can imagine the 1977 blackout looting or the 1991 Crown Heights disturbance. In fact, the proximate spark of the next round of major riots in America could be any from a long list cribbed from our history.

We have seen them all before, and we shall see them all again as history rhymes along regardless of the century or the generation of humankind nominally in control of events. But the next time we are visited by widespread, large-scale urban riots, a dangerous new escalation may be triggered by a new vulnerability: It’s estimated that the average American home has less than two weeks of food on hand. In poor minority areas, it may be much less. What if a cascading economic crisis, even a temporary one, leads to millions of EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards flashing nothing but zeroes? Or if the government’s refusal to reimburse them causes supermarket chains to stop accepting them for payment? The government can order the supermarkets to honor the cards, but history’s verdict is clear: If suppliers are paid only with worthless scrip or blinking digits, the food will stop.

STEP ONE: FLASH MOB LOOTING

In my scenario, the initial riots begin spontaneously across affected urban areas, as SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) and other government welfare recipients learn that their EBT cards no longer function. This sudden revelation will cause widespread anger, which will quickly lead to the flash-mob looting of local supermarkets and other businesses. The media will initially portray these “food riots” as at least partly justifiable. Sadly, millions of Americans have been made largely, or even entirely, dependent on government wealth transfer payments to put food on their tables.

A new social contract has been created, where bread and circuses buy a measure of peace in our minority-populated urban zones. In the era of ubiquitous big-screen cable television, the internet and smart phones, the circus part of the equation is never in doubt as long as the electricity flows. But the bread is highly problematic. Food must be delivered the old-fashioned way: physically. Any disruption in the normal functioning of the EBT system will lead to food riots with a speed that is astonishing. This will inevitably happen when our unsustainable, debt-fueled binge party finally stops, and the music is over. Now that the delivery of free or heavily subsidized food is perceived by tens of millions of Americans to be a basic human right, the cutoff of “their” food money will cause an immediate explosion of rage. When the hunger begins to bite, supermarkets, shops and restaurants will be looted, and initially the media will not condemn the looting. Unfortunately, this initial violence will only be the start of a dangerous escalation.

The ransacked supermarkets, convenience stores, ATMs and gas stations will not be restocked during this period due to the precarious security situation. A single truck loaded with food or gasoline would be perceived to be a Fort Knox on wheels and subject to immediate attack unless heavily protected by powerfully armed security forces, but such forces will not be available during this chaotic period. Under those conditions, resupply to the urban areas cannot and will not take place. The downward spiral of social and economic dysfunction will therefore both accelerate and spread from city to city. These delays, in turn, will lead to more riots with the constant underlying demand that hungry people be fed, one way or another.

Catch-22, anyone? When these demands do not bring the desired outcome, the participants will ratchet up the violence, hoping to force action by the feckless state and national governments.

The “food riots” will be a grass-roots movement of the moment born out of hunger and desperation. It will not be dependent upon leaders or an underlying organization, although they could certainly add to the sauce. Existing cell phone technology provides all the organization a flash mob needs. Most of the mobs will consist of minority urban youths, termed MUYs in the rest of this essay. Which minority doesn’t matter; each urban locale will come with its own unique multi-ethnic dynamic.

. . .

NEXT STEP: FLASH MOB RIOTS

In order to highlight their grievances and escalate their demands for an immediate resumption of government benefits, the MUY flash mobs will next move their activities to the borders of their ethnic enclaves. They will concentrate on major intersections and highway interchanges where non-MUY suburban commuters must make daily passage to and from what forms of employment still exist. People making a living will still be using those roads to get to where they earn their daily bread.

The results of these clashes will frequently resemble the intersection of Florence and Normandie during the Rodney King riots in 1992, where Reginald Denny was pulled out of his truck’s cab and beaten nearly to death with a cinder block. If you don’t remember it, watch it on Youtube. Then imagine that scene with the mob-making accelerant of texting and other social media technology added to stoke the fires. Instead of a few dozen thugs terrorizing the ambushed intersections, in minutes there will be hundreds.

Rioters will throw debris such as shopping carts and trash cans into the intersection, causing the more timid drivers to pause. The mobs will swarm the lines of trapped cars once they have stopped. Traffic will be forced into gridlock for blocks in all directions. Drivers and passengers of the wrong ethnic persuasions will be pulled from their vehicles to be beaten, robbed, and in some cases raped and/or killed. It will be hyper-violent and overtly racial mob behavior, on a massive and undeniable basis.

Some of those trapped in their cars will try to drive out of the area, inevitably knocking down MUY pedestrians and being trapped by even more outraged MUYs. The commuters will be dragged out of their cars and kicked or beaten to death. Other suburban commuters will try to shoot their way out of the lines of stopped cars, and they will meet the same grim fate once they run out of bullets and room to escape.

The mob will be armed with everything from knives, clubs and pistols to AK-47s. A bloodbath will result. These unlucky drivers and their passengers will suffer horribly, and some of their deaths will be captured on traffic web cameras. Later, these terrible scenes will be released or leaked by sympathetic government insiders and shown by the alternative media, which continue to expand as the traditional media become increasingly irrelevant.

. . .

The American flash mob riot will exist almost entirely inside the law enforcement OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop. In other words, the rioters will have a much quicker reaction time than the police. Until fairly recently, superior police communications meant that they could use their radio networks as a force multiplier. With their networking advantage and cohesive reactions both within a department and among cooperating local agencies, police could act as shepherds guiding or dispersing a wayward stampeding flock.

Today, the mob has the greater advantage, immediately spreading word of every police preparation by text and Tweet, even in advance of the police movement. Attempts by the authorities to stop the flash mobs by blocking and jamming wireless transmissions will have limited success.

It is at this point that the situation spirals out of control.

The enraged mobs in urban America will soon recognize that their spontaneous street riots cannot be stopped by the police, and then they will grow truly fearsome. For the police, it will be a losing game of Whack-a-Mole, with riots breaking out and dispersing at a speed they cannot hope to match. The violence will spread to previously unaffected cities as an awareness of law enforcement impotence is spread by television and social media. After a few days, the police forces will be exhausted and demoralized. As the violence intensifies and spreads, and in the absence of any viable security arrangements, supermarkets and other stores will not be restocked, leaving the MUYs even more desperate and angry than before. The increasing desperation born of worsening hunger will refuel the escalating spiral of violence.

. . .

THE SUBURBAN ARMED VIGILANTE RESPONSE

In the absence of an effective official police response to the exploding levels of violence, suburbanites will first hastily form self-defense forces to guard their neighborhoods—especially ones located near ethnic borders. These ubiquitous neighborhood armed defense teams will often have a deep and talented bench from which to select members, and they will not lack for volunteers.

Since 9-11, hundreds of thousands of young men (and more than a few women) have acquired graduate-level educations in various aspects of urban warfare. In the Middle East these troops were frequently tasked with restoring order to urban areas exploding in internecine strife. Today these former military men and women understand better than anyone the life-or-death difference between being armed and organized versus unarmed and disorganized.

Hundreds of thousands if not millions of veterans currently own rifles strikingly similar to those they carried in the armed forces, lacking only the full-automatic selector switch. Their brothers, sisters, parents, friends, and neighbors who did not serve in the military are often just as familiar with the weapons, if not the tactics ... And there are a far greater number of scoped bolt-action hunting rifles in private hands in the United States.

There's much more at the link.  It's a long article, but well worth reading.

The scary thing is, I can vouch from my own experience for the probable accuracy of Mr. Bracken's forecasts.  You see, I've personally seen similar events come to pass in parts of South Africa and other African nations when economies broke down and/or urban unrest spiraled out of control.  He's not joking at all.  These things have happened before in other parts of the world;  as he points out, they've already happened in isolated incidents in this country;  and in the event of widespread economic disruption and social breakdown, I agree with him that they're very likely to happen in most larger urban communities.

I know of similar incidents in this country in the aftermath of natural disasters such as hurricanes.  I wrote about some of them after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Here are a few excerpts from that (long) list of 'lessons learned'.

Keep in mind the social implications of a disaster situation. Feedback from my contacts in the Louisiana State Police (LSP) and other agencies is very worrying. They keep harping on the fact that the "underclass" that's doing all the looting is almost exclusively Black and inner-city in composition. The remarks they're reporting include such statements as "I'm entitled to this stuff!", "This is payback time for all Whitey's done to us", and "This is reparations for slavery!". Also, they're blaming the present confused disaster-relief situation on racism. "Fo sho, if Whitey wuz sittin' here in tha Dome waitin' for help, no way would he be waitin' like we is!" No, I'm not making up these comments... they are as reported by my law enforcement buddies.

This worries me very much. If we have such a divide in consciousness among our city residents, then when we hit a SHTF situation, we're likely to be accused of racism, paternalism, oppression, and all sorts of other crimes just because we want to preserve law and order. If we, as individuals and families, provide for our own needs in emergency, and won't share with others (whether they're of another race or not) because we don't have enough to go round, we're likely to be accused of racism rather than pragmatism, and taking things from us can (and probably will) be justified as "Whitey getting his just desserts". I'm absolutely not a racist, but the racial implications of the present situation are of great concern to me. The likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the "reparations for slavery" brigade appear to have so polarized inner-city opinion that these folks are (IMHO) no longer capable of rational thought concerning such issues as looting, disaster relief, etc.

. . .

People who were prepared were frequently mobbed/threatened by those who weren't. This was reported in at least seven incidents, five in Mississippi, two in Louisiana (I suspect that the relative lack of Louisiana incidents was because most of those with any sense got out of Dodge before the storm hit). In each case, the person/family concerned had made preparations for disaster, with supplies, shelter, etc. in good order and ready to go. Several had generators ready and waiting. However, their neighbors who had not prepared all came running after the disaster, wanting food, water and shelter from them. When the prepared families refused, on the grounds that they had very little, and that only enough for themselves, there were many incidents of aggression, attempted assault, and theft of their supplies. Some had to use weapons to deter attack, and in some cases, shots were fired. I understand that in two incidents, attackers and/or would-be thieves were shot. It's also reported that in all of these cases, the prepared families now face threats of retribution from their neighbors, who regarded their refusal to share as an act of selfishness and/or aggression, and are now threatening retaliation. It's reportedly so bad that most of the prepared families are considering moving to other neighborhoods, so as to start afresh, with different neighbors.

Similar incidents are reported by families who got out in time, prepared to spend several days on their own. When they stopped to eat a picnic meal at a rest stop, or an isolated spot along the highway, they report being approached rather aggressively by others wanting food, or fuel, or other essentials. Sometimes they had to be rather aggressive in their turn to deter these insistent requests. Two families report attempts being made to steal their belongings (in one case, their vehicle) while overnighting in camp stops on their way out of the area. They both instituted armed patrols, with one or more family members patrolling while the others slept, to prevent this. Seems to me to be a good argument to form a "bug-out team" with like-minded, security-conscious friends in your area, so that all concerned can provide mutual security and back-up.

. . .

If you look like you know what you're doing, you may be a target of those less prepared. There have been many, many reports of individuals who were more or less prepared for a disaster being preyed upon by those who were not prepared. Incidents range from theft of supplies, through attempts to bug out with these persons (uninvited), to actual violence. It's genuinely frightening to hear about these incidents, particularly the attitude of those trying to prey on the prepared. They seemed to feel that because you'd taken steps to protect yourself and your loved ones, you had somehow done so at their expense, and they were therefore "entitled" to take from you what they needed. There's no logical explanation for this attitude, unless it's bred by the utter dependence of many such people on the State for welfare, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, etc. Since they've always been dependent on others, and regarded this as an "entitlement", in a disaster situation, they seem to automatically assume that they're "entitled" to what you've got! In one case, the family's pet dog was held hostage, with a knife at its throat, until the family handed over money and supplies. In two cases, families were threatened with the rape of their women unless they co-operated with the aggressors. In four cases that I know of, children were held hostage to ensure co-operation. There have also been reports of crimes during the bug-out process. Families sleeping in their cars at highway rest areas were a favorite target, including siphoning of gas from their tanks, assaults, etc.

The lessons to be learned from this are obvious. One family can't secure itself against these threats without great difficulty. It's best to be "teamed up" with neighbors to secure your neighborhood as a whole, rather than be the only house with facilities in an area filled with those less prepared. If you're in the latter situation, staying put may not be a safe option, and a bug-out plan may be vital. When bugging out, you're still not safe from harm, and must maintain constant vigilance.

Those who thought themselves safe from the disaster were often not safe from refugees. There have been many reports of smaller towns, farms, etc. on the fringe of the disaster area being overrun with those seeking assistance. In many cases, assistance was demanded rather than requested, and theft, looting and vandalism have been reported. So, even if you think you're safe from the disaster, you may not be safe from its aftermath.

Again, more at the link.

I don't like to have to say this, but you're going to need a certain element of ruthlessness in your planning, preparations and responses to disaster if you and your loved ones are to survive.  You need to make up your mind right now to these harsh realities:

  • Your emergency supplies are there primarily for your and your family's use.  Anyone else needing them is literally taking food out of your loved ones' mouths.  There's an old and time-honored saying:  "Lack of planning or preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."  It's true.  You're going to have to harden your heart against the entreaties of those who did not prepare, even if they're friends or more distant relatives.  If you think you won't be able to do that, your only option is to leave town (with your supplies) to get out of their way.
  • You're going to have to be ruthless in defending your emergency supplies.  There are those who'll try to steal them, and who won't mind killing or maiming you and yours in the process if they have to.  There's a simple answer to that.  You need to make up your mind about it now, while things are peaceful, so that if things go to hell in a handbasket, you're mentally prepared and physically equipped to do what you have to do.
  • You need to understand that if you live in a major urban area (particularly if you're close to any areas with high crime rates), you're at much greater risk of societal breakdown than you would be in a smaller, more homogeneous community.  You need to ask yourself very seriously whether your present physical location is subject to so great a risk of urban unrest that it wouldn't be safe to stay there.  If not, you need to start planning now where you'll go and how you'll get there, taking your emergency supplies with you.  Don't leave it until the last minute.  Everyone else will be trying to do the same thing then, and it'll be too late to avoid getting trapped in the traffic jam.  Remember the "Seven P's".  That saying has endured because it's true.  Do your planning now.


There's lots of food for thought in Mr. Bracken's article.  I hope I've provided a little more from my own experience - enough to illustrate that he's not being unduly alarmist.  Go read the whole thing, and think about it, and then plan and prepare accordingly.

Peter

2 comments:

MrG's said...

Hi Peter,

Great article and thanks! I see the SHTF coming soon..perhaps if Obama gets voted out...how will the urban inhabitants handle that? The next few months will be interesting to say the least...

angrymike said...

Mr G
I agree, that's why the government agencies have armed themselves to the teeth, luckily we are also armed. Hate to see it happen, but I'm ready...........