A very disturbing incident took place in Milwaukee earlier this week. It offers several important lessons for the rest of us. It also reinforces what I've been saying for weeks and months on this blog.
Initial reports of the incident were similar to this one.
A Milwaukee man has reportedly been arrested after pulling a gun on a mob of Black Lives Matter supporters who were surrounding his home for several hours.
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Members of the mob claimed on social media that their actions were justified because he is a “racist” and has a confederate flag. The flag was not seen in the videos, but an American and Trump flag were hanging prominently on the front of his home.
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In livestream footage of the incident, the mob is clearly seen stepping on to the man’s property.
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After the mob was outside his home for more than two hours, police arrived. As they entered the man’s property, the rioters cheered for police and called for the man’s arrest, yelling about how he had a weapon.
When the man was taken outside, seemingly in cuffs, the crowd went wild.
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The militant leftists were threatening the man saying that he was going to have big problems if he dared to step outside.
As they threatened him, shined lights into his home, and pranced all over his property, he pointed a shotgun out the window.
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The person who called for the “protest” livestreamed the mob outside the man’s home for several hours.
It does not appear that any members of the mob have been arrested.
There's more at the link, including video of the incident.
The person who organized the protest was described as:
"a felon with thousands of dollars in outstanding fines who attempted to burn down a police station in 2016 ... So a convicted felon is doxing innocent Trump supporters on Facebook and raising funds on PayPal to do so. This same man has been arrested more than 10 times and has outstanding fines in excess of $3,700. He also is allowed to roam free on the Internet and in the streets while those he claims are racists because they support President Trump are taken to jail for brandishing a gun on their own property when an indicted firebomber and his posse riot outside his home."
A later report provided more information, and indicated that the resident of the property may not have been as blameless as initially presumed.
A 56-year-old Milwaukee man is accused of pointing a gun at a crowd of protesters while he was drunk. A day earlier, police say the same man threatened to hurt his neighbor while wielding a chainsaw.
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On Tuesday, Sept. 15, officers were called [the man's residence] where a crowd had gathered to protest ... Around 8:30 p.m., officers were notified by a witness that the 56-year-old man was inside by a window, and motioned with a long gun "as if he chambered a round," and pointed the gun at the crowd.
The incident was captured on video.
Officers made contact with the 56-year-old man and observed he appeared to be intoxicated. He was arrested for endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon while under the influence of an intoxicant, disorderly conduct while armed and bail jumping.
Again, more at the link.
Obviously, the partisan reports about this incident make it unclear exactly what was going on. Nevertheless, these events provide and/or reinforce a number of very important lessons that should be strong warnings to all of us.
- As far as I know, even though they were on the man's property without permission and disturbing the peace, none of the protesters were told to move on, much less arrested. Why not? One can only presume that local law enforcement has been instructed not to inflame the situation by arresting them. That's cold comfort to homeowners who want to secure their property and protect their families. I wrote about that some time ago, and I strongly suggest that you re-read both of those articles. Don't rely on the police to protect you, and don't rely on the prosecuting authorities to be on your side. In some parts of the country, political correctness may have turned them into your enemies. In such places, effectively, you're on your own.
- If the claims are correct that the homeowner was displaying a Confederate flag and/or a Trump flag outside his residence, then he was effectively making himself a target. When you're in a highly-charged political environment, to identify yourself as strongly partisan is asking for trouble. Sure, you can stand on your First Amendment rights all you like - but hard-liners won't care about your rights. They're looking for a fight, and you're providing them with an excuse for one. As I've advised before, be a "gray man". Don't set out to be a "tall poppy" when you're in the midst of contested political territory, lest someone try to cut you down.
- Don't draw or display a firearm unless you're legally entitled to do so. Remember, in many jurisdictions, even displaying a firearm is regarded as the use of lethal force, whether or not you aim or fire it. Where I live, state law explicitly authorizes me to use lethal force to defend my property under certain conditions, over and above typical "stand-your-ground" laws: but in other states, that's not always the case. Some even impose a "duty to retreat" rather than defend one's home. Make sure you know what the law(s) in your area permit(s) you to do, and - unless the situation is so dangerous that you have no choice - don't step outside those boundaries. If it is that dangerous, well, the old saying may apply: "Better to be judged by twelve [i.e. jurors] than carried by six [i.e. pallbearers]."
- There have been innumerable incidents of rioters and protesters daring police and civilians to shoot them. They know most of us will find it very difficult to kill another human being, because we're fundamentally decent people at heart. They feel secure in pushing "good" people, because they've tested the limits before, and got away with it. Therefore, you need to understand before you touch a gun that if you carry it or pick it up in a defensive situation, you may have to use it. Have that clear in your mind up front, and follow through if necessary - otherwise they may take your gun away from you, and may even use it against you. In this incident, the homeowner tried to use a gun to threaten those invading his property, but it didn't work. In fact, it made his situation worse.
- Don't be under the influence of any substance that might impair your judgment, reactions or ability to defend yourself. Not only does that affect your situation as far as law enforcement is concerned, it can also come back to bite you even if you legitimately and legally defend yourself. If post-incident results show that you were under the influence of anything at all, even legally prescribed medications, you can expect shyster attorneys (and shyster prosecutors, in some jurisdictions) to try to use that against you. The homeowner in this incident has brought big trouble upon himself by being drunk. If he'd used his firearm while under the influence, it would almost certainly have been used as grounds to bring a very serious felony charge against him.
- Usually, your home is not your castle in terms of practical self-defense. If you're trapped in your house, it's far too easy for enemies to surround it, attempt entry through multiple doors and/or windows, and set fires all around it if they feel so inclined. If you have any inkling at all that such a situation might arise, get the hell out of there before it does! Take your family and your essential gear and go to a place where you'll be safer. Yes, you may lose your home - but you and your loved ones will still be alive, and can rebuild. There's a lot to be said for that!
- Be sure to review your insurance policy, and make sure you're covered for damage or destruction caused by social or political unrest. Make sure the policy doesn't contain any weasel clauses that might let your insurers wiggle out of it. Be aware that overtly political displays or actions in a highly charged environment might trigger such clauses - and it'll cost you a fortune in lawyer's fees to fight them. If your policy is overly restrictive, you might want to take out better coverage before it's too late.
- I've advised on many occasions that it's useful to form a team of like-minded individuals to protect yourselves and your homes. This incident illustrates that need perfectly. The home-owner was trapped inside, and couldn't do much in the way of effective defense - but if he'd had friends in the area, who were prepared to work together, they could have approached the mob from the sides or rear, and provided very effective interdiction. If things go to hell in a hand-basket in this country, that may become a vitally important tactical consideration. Talk to your friends, work out what you can do to defend each other's lives and homes, and practice it before you have to do it the hard way. A team can do a lot more, and be much more effective, than a single individual or family.
Finally, it might be a good idea to ensure that rioters, protestors and demonstrators are reminded of what might happen if they push things too far. I don't think they have any idea what will happen to them if Mr. and Mrs. Average American decide they've had enough. I suspect it won't be pretty.