Sunday, March 30, 2014

Criminal 'flash mobs' - a growing peril to your safety

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.



Rolf said...

So use the massive amount of metadata and tracking info the phone co / NSA have and track down the participants. Look at the messages, see who organized it. Hunt them down.
If the government is going to collect all that data in the name of security, the had better USE it, or else they give lie to their own claims. If they can't/won't, then tell them to flush the data and stop collecting it, and tell residents it's their duty to take out as many feral critters as they can before they go down, in order to save the next person if they can't save themselves.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

Daddy Bear had a discussion about the incident I think last week on his blog especially since it was in his backyard. You are absolutely correct, about avoiding bad places and not doing bad things. I will be having the "talk" with my son that my dad had with me back in the early 80's. Basically it was that if you are someplace in public and a bunch of blacks show somewhere else. In this day and age it sounds bigoted but in the light of the climate of today, perhaps it isn't such bad advice.

prairie gopher said...

but you can be in a normal place you always go to and stilb e beaten up. there is no safe place , not even your home.

Murphy's Law said...

It's a sad state of affairs today where concealed carry and the right to self-defense is more widely recognized than it has been in decades, but if your attacker has a name like Javonte or TyQuan, your "rights" may quickly disappear in a cloud of media smoke and haze and you may well be indiscriminately sacrificed on the altar of political correctness due to some elected politician's desire to pander to people who look like your attacker.

I never thought that I'd consider a revolver for self-defense simply because it doesn't leave spent brass behind, but these days...

tweell said...

Remember the second rule to a gunfight - bring a lot of friends with guns. We had a Mexican rally here a while back, the illegals grouped, started to vandalize their way towards the state capital... and ran into the local tea party along with the veterans' motorcycle association. The Mexicans quickly left in all directions.

Old NFO said...

Comes down to it, it's judged by 12 or carried by 6... And I know which way 'I' will go. And concur on avoidance being the best policy...

emdfl said...

I may have to rethink the idea of semi-vs-revolver. No need to stop and police the area when using a revolver, heh, heh, heh.

Will said...

Murphy's Law:

the problem with revolvers in a flashmob situation is that you may need to be carrying them in the quantity that they did in the swashbuckling pirates days.

I know a guy who used to carry 4-5 pistols when he had to go into So Philly for his job. Said balancing the weight helped.

SupGen said...

Hmmmm...Peter, I hate to tell you this, but you just did what you accused the Louisville city fathers of doing. You "played down" an aspect of this story because it's not "politically correct"; the fact that the attackers were black is not mentioned in the text...instead we are told to view the video to find out. The fact of the matter is that black on white violence, whether the "knock out game" or "flash mobs" is becoming an epidemic in our country. You, of all people, should be aware that it is open season on whites in many places. How many Boer farmers have been slaughtered in your home country of South Africa in recent years? I am not a bigot but the evidence of my own eyes forces me to believe that we who are not are out-numbered by those who are; and in many cases those who are bigots are black.
I must also take exception to the prescription to "not be there", while I fully understand the legal ramifications, at what point does one say "Enough is enough"? If everyone went by the "you can't win" mantra I don't think anyone would have shown up at Lexington or Concord but, ya know, at least no one would have been injured.
This is not a situation that law-abiding people who happen to be white asked for; it is however a real situation and to deny that will only make it worse. I recoil from the idea of a "race war", but if it comes to pass, it will not be the fault of whites.

Peter said...

@SupGen: I don't care about the race of the individuals concerned. In my years as a prison chaplain, I can assure you that the assholes were assholes irrespective of (or in spite of) their race, not because of it! It's true that this particular flash mob - and, to be fair, most of those occurring in many parts of the country - were largely, if not exclusively, Black: but that doesn't mean all of them will be.

Consider this very carefully. You can't defend yourself against someone because of the color of their skin. You're legally entitled to do so only when their actions threaten your life, health or safety. Their race is irrelevant. Any attempt to say "It's a Black problem", as you've done, may well backfire on you if you have to defend your actions in court. (What - you don't think the prosecutors will do an Internet search to find out your opinions on such matters? Of course they will!)

Say the wrong thing, and it can come back to haunt you. You might want to think about that.

Coconut said...

Nice sort of thing about that sort of thing, relatively, is that just as the attackers have no relation to the victim- making tracing them afterwards impossible, even if it isn't taken off the table for political reasons -the victim has no relation to the attackers. So if a bunch of 'youths' - ethnicity undefined, which is one of those silences that isn't so much pregnant as having contractions in the back of the taxi - turn up on the street one sunrise lying in a puddle of blood and casings, there's really no way to find out who sorted them.

On a similar note, I don't have any sort of inherent problem, morally speaking, with those news stories where some lot has machinegunned or shelled a crowd of rioters; way I see it, if you hang around once the burning and the looting starts, you really can't expect to be surprised if you stop a packet meant for an anarchist.

SupGen said...

Peter; as I said,"I fully understand the legal ramifications"; however, if the authorities (the city fathers, the police and prosecuters)will not stand up for the rule of law, and the people will not stand up for the rule of law, what are you left with? Anarchy. At that point it is too late. In fact, when people worry more about personal consequences than "the body politic" (their country), you pretty much have the seeds of anarchy right there.

DaddyBear said...

I've been following this very closely, and I'm writing off downtown Louisville for the time being. I love Waterfront Park, but I am very glad that I rarely have business downtown and my wife no longer works down there. 95% of the time there's no problem, but that other 5% is getting worse.

There was a report that the police were stepping up patrols at a suburban mall because of a possibility of something like this happening there on Friday. Like a lot of you have said, there is no such thing as a safe place, just places that are safer than others.

One of the local politicians specifically said that she didn't want another Trayvon Martin situation the day after this happened. That alone will tell you the reaction of the authorities in the event that an armed person, or just someone who mashes on the accelerator when attacked in her car, will get.