I've warned several times that the justice system in the USA is increasingly being turned against ordinary citizens like you and I. In many jurisdictions, progressive left-wing prosecutors are openly favoring criminals over the general populace. This is evident in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia . . . the list goes on and on and on. If you defend yourself against "politically correct attackers" (for example, Black Lives Matter or Antifa) in those cities and places like them, the odds are high that you'll be regarded as a criminal and arrested, no matter what provocation was offered to you or what offense the attackers committed. Even worse, if police try to enforce the laws as written against those who are now "politically correct" in the eyes of prosecutors, the cops themselves will become targets of the new oppression.
Consider these articles on and around the subject that I've posted previously. If you haven't read some or all of them, I strongly suggest that you do so before continuing.
The problem is, if one tries to take steps to defend oneself - or even prepare to defend oneself - against such a prosecutorial inquisition, one's going to pop up on the radar of those trying to bring down our society. They may apply the so-called "tall poppy syndrome" to us. Such people will look for those trying to resist, or to organize resistance, and try to make examples of them, as a warning to others that they'd better not even think about trying to do likewise.
Well, some of us have been through that particular mill, and have come out the other side. I have, in several foreign countries where I worked during the 1980's and 1990's. What's more, the lessons learned there most certainly apply to the USA today, and can help us protect ourselves against such aggression - criminal, political, or prosecutorial. This week, I'm going to put up a series of articles describing what I saw and learned in those countries, and showing how such tactics can help to keep us safe if we should need to defend ourselves against attack. They're not guaranteed to do so - you may find yourself between a rock and a hard place, and have no choice but to act, in a place or a situation where no precautions will be enough to protect your identity - but they can help.
Please note from the outset that discretion is vital.
- Any and every purchase made by you using a credit or debit card can and will be tracked, and may be called into question. This includes the purchase of materials and equipment that can be used to defend yourself, even if at first glance they're not specifically intended for such use (e.g. so-called "tire knockers" or a large wrench, which can be very useful dual-purpose items). You should pay cash whenever possible, and preferably not shop for such gear in stores that have surveillance cameras monitoring and recording every single customer and what they do.
- Any and every Internet search, question asked on an online forum, or text message or phone call to another person, can and will be subject to examination if an unfortunate incident should arise. What you say or propose or advise may be used against you.
- Security cameras can and will capture your image, and record your actions, if you're within range of them. They aren't just in public areas like shopping malls or busy city streets, either - "smart doorbells" now adorn many suburban homes, and capture what's going on nearby in audio and video.
- In social unrest situations, Antifa, BLM and their ilk will all have their cellphones out, recording video of everything they can see - including you and your actions. What's more, it's easy to misrepresent or mischaracterize what's seen in a jerky, grainy video that may not be taken from close enough to be sure what's being recorded.
- We live in a hyper-partisan society. Witnesses can't be guaranteed to be honest and objective about what they've seen; their testimony may be biased by their political opinions. We can't take it for granted that they will back up our story, even though they and we may know it's true. The same goes for a trial. False evidence - even false witnesses - may be introduced. We've recently seen how a Black Lives Matter juror hid his affiliation in order to infiltrate and influence the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial, regardless of the facts of the case. That could happen to any of us.
Minimizing our exposure begins with not putting ourselves into situations where problems may arise. This requires a habit of discretion in our everyday lives. I've quoted John Farnam on this in the past, and I'm going to repeat it here.
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.
Nowadays, Mr. Farnam's advice applies particularly to any area where demonstrations, riots and urban unrest may be encountered. In Portland, for example, the area near the Federal courthouse (targeted by rioters over many months) is not somewhere I want to be at any hour of the day or night. There are so many cameras recording what's going on in the area, and so many people trying to identify potential targets there, that I don't want them to see my face at all, even though no riot might be occurring at the time. Simple common sense tells me not to make myself a potential target, either at the time or for future reference. Other cities will have their own potential flash-points (e.g. the George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis; the area around the Capital Hill Occupied Protest site in Seattle; the Michael Brown memorial site in Ferguson, MO; and so on). I see no good reason to be at or near any of them, at any time.
The same applies to stores that might be targeted by looters - even in upmarket areas. Just look at the destruction wrought to Chicago's Magnificent Mile last year. Neighborhood stores are not exempted from that risk; the seedier the area, the more likely riots and unrest may erupt with little or no warning. I'll make a habit of shopping in areas where that's less likely, and even there I'll keep my head on a swivel.
The key to surviving such potential risks is situational awareness.
- We should keep abreast of news that might provoke urban unrest or rioting. If something might do that, we need to stay away from potential flash-points.
- When we're out and about, we need to constantly look around us, watching for any potential criminal activity, and prepared to avoid (or resist) it if necessary. That's tough if we have kids in tow, but it can be done. In particular, resist the temptation to walk around with earbuds playing music in our ears, blocking our auditory awareness; or burying our heads in our smartphones, not looking where we're going or what's going on around us.
- We should make ourselves aware of the normal patterns of activity in the places we visit. If those patterns appear disrupted for any reason, it should sound a warning in our brains. When training for bush warfare, we were told constantly to listen for the sounds of nature - birds, animals, etc. If those sounds suddenly ceased, what was causing it? It could be a warning of an enemy approaching our position, or waiting in ambush for us. In the same way, the sudden and unusual absence of shoppers or pedestrians should indicate that there's a reason for it.
- Try to avoid areas where traffic jams might make escape or evasion impossible. If trouble arises, don't drive along main routes that everybody else will be using to get away, because they can quickly and easily become blocked. Rather be aware of side roads to get away from the problem area quickly, then look for major routes once you're clear. (However, don't take side roads blindly - they might lead you into worse trouble!)
- Be prepared for trouble as best you can at all times. This means being armed where that's legally possible, and being mentally and physically trained and prepared to use your defensive measures if the need should arise. If you aren't maintaining situational awareness, you may be caught unawares by trouble.
Here are a few articles that will help you increase and improve your situational awareness.
That'll do for today. Tomorrow, I'll discuss how one lives in a higher-threat environment (with particular emphasis on what I learned the hard way in other countries), and start to look at practical ways of dealing with it.