I've written on several previous occasions about the changing (and growing) security risks in urban environments - in this article in particular. The warnings I gave there came horribly true in Louisville, Kentucky last weekend.
A swarm of two dozen teenagers walked up to a man on the Big Four Bridge around 7 p.m. Saturday and asked him for a cigarette. Then, without provocation, they pummeled him.
Within minutes, 10 teenagers on the bridge shoved another man to the ground, beat and kicked him, as his wife and granddaughters watched and wept.
The simultaneous attacks in broad daylight early Saturday evening were the opening salvo in a rampage that spanned at least three hours and two dozen blocks, and has, in the days since, sent city officials scrambling to reassure the public that downtown Louisville has not devolved into a lawless battlefield.
A Courier-Journal review of dozens of incident reports obtained from Louisville Metro Police chronicle the teens' movements. Mobs of teenagers roved the streets, several dozen people deep. They beat a man unconscious, broke windows, threw rocks at moving cars, looted a store, threatened a police officer and mugged anyone who dared get in their way. More than 30 people called to report trouble. Police have counted at least 20 crimes, and suspect there are more that have yet to be reported.
"They were organized and nobody else was," Jean Henry said of the mob that knocked her 61-year-old husband to the ground on the Big Four Bridge, then beat and kicked him. "When I was running to my husband, I looked around. I couldn't tell who was in the group and who just happened to be up there. People were in shock, I think that's why nobody helped us."
There's much more at the link. It's essential reading for anyone concerned with their personal security, not just in Louisville, but in any medium- to large-sized American city or town.
What's even worse is that the Louisville city fathers appear to have instructed the police to play down (if not ignore) the risks to visitors in one of the city's premier tourist areas. I don't particularly like Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, but I think his astonishment at this situation isn't out of place. Note the security camera footage of the mob violence in this segment from his show.
If I had any plans to visit Louisville or attend the Kentucky Derby Festival there later this year, you can bet your last dollar those plans have just changed! The risk to my safety and security is too great.
What's worse is, even if you're aware of the potential danger and have armed yourself as a precaution against it, this is a fight you simply can't win. If you survive and prevail on the street, you'll be crucified in the court of public opinion - and you can bet that race-baiting agitators would make sure you'll be prosecuted for defending yourself, too. Just imagine the sensation-seeking newspaper headlines by liberal or progressive reporters and editors, who will try to obscure the truth of what happened:
- "Panicked bystander turns gun on teenage boys"
- "Children massacred in tourist mecca"
- "Man guns down youths in crowded plaza"
Like I said . . . you can't win, even if you survive. Note what happened to the old man who defended himself with a knife when attacked in Louisville (described in the linked article above - the incident which appears to have sparked last weekend's violence). The police immediately arrested and jailed him. The grand jury no-billed him when they saw the security video, and he's since been released . . . but until that happened, he was locked up among all sorts of criminals and gang-bangers. Now imagine yourself in his shoes. You've successfully defended yourself against a criminal flash mob. Now you're locked up among thugs and criminals who probably knew some of those you've just shot, and who are likely to be looking to avenge them. Are you sure you'll survive long enough to be exonerated? I'm not! The cops are highly unlikely to give you a secure cell to yourself. You'll be on your own, surrounded by those who, at best, have no reason to love you. Good luck, friend . . . you're going to need it!
This sort of scenario is becoming more and more common all over the United States. Just do an internet search on 'flash mob violence' and you'll see what I mean. More and more, your only defense is to stay away from places where it's likely to occur. You may still get caught unawares, or be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and if so your only recourse is likely to be the use of defensive violence. However, it's better by far not to need it at all! As John Farnam famously observed more than a decade ago (see his Quips for March 19th, 2003 at this link - scroll down to find it):
The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of defensive firearms. Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the “penalty” for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable.
Crowds of any kind, particularly those with an agenda, such as political rallies, demonstrations, picket lines, etc are good examples of “stupid places.” Any crowd with a high collective energy level harbors potential catastrophe. To a lesser degree, bank buildings, hospital emergency rooms, airports, government buildings, and bars (particularly crowded ones) fall into the same category. All should be avoided. When they can’t be avoided, we should make it a practice to spend only the minimum time necessary there and then quickly get out.
“A superior gunman is best defined as one who uses his superior judgment in order to keep himself out of situations that would require the use of his superior skills.”
Again, more at the link. Bold underlined text is my emphasis.
Mr. Farnam knows whereof he speaks. His advice is invaluable. Ignore it at your peril.