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    How to Prepare for Political Unrest

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    How to Prepare for Political Unrest

    If the last election was any sign of things to come, the winter of 2024 going into 2025 has the potential to see outbreaks of civil unrest, regardless of the outcome of the November elections. Various politicians and political groups continue to challenge the integrity of any election, and groups on both sides of the fence seem quick to take offense and protest in the streets.

    As usual, it’s a minority of citizens who resort to violence, but fear will spread as everyone is affected by civil unrest and frightened by a news media eager to make money from scary headlines.

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    What Could Happen?

    Destruction of Property

    Arson is a common tactic used by protesters, and fires are often the result of demonstrations and civil unrest. Complicating everything is that fire departments often feel threatened by random mobs when violence breaks out and the fires spread.

    Looting is another common occurrence as store windows are shattered and stores are left in a shambles. Looting is another activity that seems to spread like a virus as the rule of law seems to be suspended and local police are overwhelmed by events.

    Random vandalism is another unfortunate side-effect of civil unrest, and anything can become a target including cars stuck in traffic that has come to a halt. This is where so many innocent victims become a target because of their ethnicity, a wrong look or passing glance, and even something as innocuous as an opinionated bumper sticker.

    Physical Violence

    Robberies can occur during civil unrest with little or no provocation. When the rule of law breaks down, anything goes. This is when criminal activity is sparked by an instinct in some people who see everyone as a potential target. Robberies are common and groups can quickly devolve into roving gangs caught up in the free-for-all of random violence and theft.

    Assaults between rival factions are an all-too-common occurrence as people are motivated to not only take exception to contrary points-of-view but see the demonstrators as the primary cause of any violence. Usually, it's a minority of people who cause the violence, but all are blamed and targeted as the result.

    Mass shootings are nothing new in the United States, and all it takes is one person with a gun to start randomly shooting into a crowd when they feel threatened.

    Increasing Political Polarization

    Divisions driven by political affiliations will continue to grow as some politicians continue to leverage the politics of conflict as a campaign platform. The effects could be far-reaching as family, friends, and neighbors continue to drift apart as a result of inflammatory political rhetoric.

    International perceptions of the United States could continue to diminish as political, economic and social stability appears to deteriorate and spiral out of control.

    Martial Law could be imposed leading to curfews, widespread unemployment, and a total disruption of society.

    Civil War seems unthinkable but if the violence spreads and justice seems to be inconsistent or unevenly applied, the rule of law will continue to diminish and armed conflict could result.

    Common Sense Precautions

    Anyone with a protective mindset has to be concerned as simple everyday things like going to work, sending the kids to school, and even going to the grocery store become a risk in a time of turmoil.

    There are steps that most people can take to avoid the chaos, but most of us still need to think about commuting to our jobs or just getting out and about. Hiding in the basement is not the best solution, but common sense can and should prevail. Here are some basic considerations:

    Your Location

    Where you live will have a lot to do with what you have to deal with. People in rural or exurban areas will see less turmoil or violence, but cities can rapidly become flashpoints for violence and crime.

    Think about where you live and try to assess the potential threats the could affect you, your family, and your immediate neighborhood.

    Monitor the Situation

    If violence is occurring 500 miles away, the immediate question is what impact might it have on your area. Is it spreading? Are there any demonstrations planned locally? Has there been any level of violent activity around your location? Is the violence and unrest localized in large cities? It’s just a question of knowing how to react to events and how not to overreact.

    Preparations to Consider

    A lot of the preparations for civil unrest motivated by political dissension or an election are similar to preps for other natural and manmade disasters. Riots, looting, and general civil unrest often accompany the disruption of social norms caused by a range of events, but the simmering animosity that accompanies political unrest could make this a long-term situation.

    Home Security

    Here again, a lot depends on location, but when the rule of law breaks down or at least starts to show some cracks, it makes sense to keep your home secure.

    Lock the doors and windows and consider a fence that can discourage people from entering your yard or property for any reason. This could include a gate across a long driveway, perimeter alarms purchased or improvised, and even a dog if you don’t already own one.

    Video cameras that are motion activated and actually record activity are another idea. Even a sign alerting people to the presence of video security (even if it’s a fake sign) can discourage people from approaching your home.

    Security lights that are solar-powered and motion-activated can not only deter trespassers but alert you to someone in the vicinity of your home.

    Firearms are a last resort, so think about your situation and whether or not you feel the need to arm yourself. When improperly used or displayed, they can escalate a situation unnecessarily.

    Stay home. That’s easier said than done, but if activity in your area is intense or worsening, it’s probably best to hunker down and stay home. This is one of the reasons that a standard stockpile of food, medicines, backup power, and other disaster preps are a good idea. They let you stay home longer while you ride out what is hopefully short-turn turmoil.

    Think twice about political signage in your front yard. During highly intense political times, it could invite a random gunshot in the night or a brick through your living room window. And that can happen anywhere, not just the big cities.

    Vehicle Safety

    There are too many examples of people getting trapped in the middle of a demonstration or violent outbreak. We all have to get to work, some of us have to pick up the kids at school, and everyone eventually needs to go to a store or check on family members.

    A vehicle is a bad place to be if you’re surrounded by stalled traffic or an angry mob. Here are some basic ideas for vehicle security.

    Lock the doors. This should require no further explanation.

    Avoid bumper stickers or any outward show of political affiliation, beliefs, or ideas. Nobody really cares on a day-to-day basis, but when politics are driving the violence, something as simple as a bumper sticker can make your vehicle a target for a brick through the windshield or slashed tires.

    Keep the gas tank full. Traffic jams can create parking lots, and running out of gas while stalled and stopped in the middle of violent confrontations is never a good idea.

    Firearms? You hear about people with firearms in their vehicles all the time. If you or your family’s life is threatened, you have no choice, but deciding to display a firearm to discourage anyone in the vicinity of your vehicle could draw fire as well.

    Situational awareness may be the most critical consideration. Look before you turn. If you see a traffic jam or cars stopped, turn around. Here again, it’s common sense. If you see trouble or a situation that could leave you trapped, avoid it. Things happen fast sometimes, but it’s best to stay clear of any situation that could leave you without options.

    Abandon the vehicle. That’s not the best idea, but if you’re out of gas or it's your only alternative, you may have to abandon ship. Unfortunately, it now puts you into the next situation.

    Street Survival

    Survival on the streets can always present challenges, even in the best of times. As usual, a lot depends on the location. Large cities present the greatest challenges, but even suburbs have seen their share of random violence in recent times.

    Street survival is all about street smarts. It’s the most critical time to maintain situational awareness and to keep our noses out of our smart phones. Here are some common sense considerations.

    Never walk alone if you can help it. That’s not always easy, but if you’re working or living in an area prone to demonstrations, violence, or any problem associated with political unrest, it’s best to make an effort to walk with someone else or a small group.

    Avoid eye contact as much as possible. When people are looking for trouble, even a passing glance can be perceived as a threat. We’ve all encountered it–some people are just crazy and read into something as simple as a well-intentioned smile.

    Avoid conversation with strangers. You never know what their intentions may be. Answer simply with a word or two if you must, but when tempers are running high in a tense environment, it’s best to stay off any subject with a stranger.

    Be the gray man, or woman. Blend in. Don’t wear loud, flashy, or expensive clothing or do any loud talking, gestures, or mannerisms. Don’t wear clothing, buttons, or hats that state a political disposition. If you encounter someone who does, it’s a good bet they’re looking for trouble or just don’t care. If you’re someone what actually does care, don’t do it. Be gray.

    Find a safe haven if violence breaks out on the street. This could be a business, library, or office building. Avoid jewelry stores, pharmacies, electronic stores, and other retail environments that could be a target for looters as the situation escalates.

    It may also be wise to avoid municipal buildings that can become destinations for protest. The U.S. Capitol is one example that comes to mind. Police and fire stations may be safer.

    Stay at work if things break out on the streets or neighborhood where you work. If you have to walk to a parking lot, parking spot or train station, see if someone at work will walk with you if they’re going to the same location.

    Avoid walking at night if you can. Darkness emboldens violence and crime.

    Weapons like pepper spray or personal alarms are a possibility. Just know that using any kind of weapon may invite more violence, so make it a last-ditch effort when directly threatened.

    Will It Happen?

    Unfortunately, probably so. Whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump wins, countless people will believe the election was stolen and will take to the streets in protest. And with how polarized the country has become, it seems inevitable that many of those protests will turn violent.

    Make sure you avoid any major protests, do what you can to prepare in case you do end up in a riot or another dangerous situation, and keep your family safe until the worst is over. For now, that's the best we can do.

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