As America keeps changing into whatever it has been becoming during these last few years, incidents like the ones seen recently are likely to become more common. People rarely find themselves in this kind of volatile, extraordinary circumstances and often don’t know how to react. I’ve been in them more than I care to remember so what I say comes directly from years of experience, at times coming across riots, protests and especially roadblocks on daily basis, some of them more violent than others.
This is the advice I have for you.
Do NOT run over people. I’m not saying this as a disclaimer alone, I really do mean it. I fully understand how sensitive people are these days, the politics, the racial tension. Still, every single life is precious in its own way and no car, no paint job is worth a human life. I’m tired of reading about folks in the forums joking about running over BLM or whatever other activist of any kind, no matter how much you may disagree with them or not. I doubt many of them have run over people before. I can tell you one thing though: Hitting an innocent person with your car is one of the most horrible feelings you can experience. The only time I felt worse was when my then three year old son nearly died in a hospital bed. It’s that bad. People say taking any life will cause endless nightmares. I don’t know about that because it is different when some scumbag is actively trying to kill you, its you or him in which case I have no regrets. I do know that believing you just killed a person that you know wasn’t trying to kill you back messes you up. Unless you are a monster, no good person wants to carry that weight.
In my case it became somewhat of a daily morning ritual. I would turn on the TV during breakfast so as to know what roads or parts of town to avoid before I hit the road. At times it was just easier to use public transportation, but its not always an option and its not always safer. If I was taking my car I would turn on the radio to listen to the news in case new roadblocks were popping up while driving. In some countries you have Apps that inform you about them too.
If you know there’s trouble, avoid it at all cost. Not only are you risking getting stuck for hours, you risk getting attacked and mugged as well. It just isnt worth it so take an alternative route. I didn’t use one back then, especially because I knew most of the city like the palm of my hand but get comfortable with your GPS.
If you happen to see a roadblock forming right in front of you, act fast. Sometimes you can drive around them quickly before they close in, sometimes you can make a quick U turn and get the hell out of there. In those moments, a second too late makes all the difference between making it home in 5 minutes or getting stuck there for hours, or worse. An agile vehicle is great for such situations. I learned to appreciate SUVs for their better than sedan ground clearance and off road capability. I don’t need to cross the nearest national park off road with it. But if I can go off the road to avoid the roadblock for a bit or go over a sidewalk or boulevard to do so, then yes I can appreciate that. This is why my daily driver is a Honda CR-V.
It is easy to get scared, its easy to get angry. In both cases you’ll just make it worse. If you are scared you may panic, floor the pedal and run over a bunch of people. If you get angry you may get out of the car to confront the people blocking your way. This is a very typical reaction and one you certainly would regret. You start thinking about your rights being just as important as theirs. You think about the wasted time, about wanting to get home after a long day, about why can’t you move around like the free person that you are. You get out of the car and you are surrounded and outnumbered. It only takes one or two cowards to strike you from behind, crowd dynamics say you’re likely to get stomped on once you fall, maybe beaten to death. If you are carrying you may start shooting. Either way we go back full circle: Just don’t get out of the vehicle.
Don’t floor it, don’t speed up, just keep moving slowly. Its easy to get nervous with all the screaming, with hands and maybe sticks hitting your car. Stay cool, keep moving slowly. This one time I had people start pushing and rocking the car as I made it through the crowd. It felt like being in a boat. Sometimes there so many people you can’t even see the road, see if your about to hit the curb. You have to focus on getting out of there, know where you’re going and keep moving slowly, at walking speed.
Riots and roadblocks can be dangerous and they certainly are stressful. Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with one but if you do these five tips will help you get through it.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.