Intelligence gathering is the process of developing information that you can use to make decisions and/or be aware of your local situation. It’s an exhaustive topic that I’m not going to get into here, other than to describe how I accomplished today’s mission.
It’s one thing to watch the news and listen to what they are reporting about protests and happenings; it’s quite another to go and observe events yourself. Which do you think will give you the most reliable information?
Today, I attended the Black Lives Matter Juneteenth Celebration and March in Ann Arbor, Michigan to observe first hand what the other side is saying and doing, rather than just believe what the media says. I highly recommend the exercise and I plan on it doing it again soon.
It’s important to note that I didn’t go as a counter-demonstrator or to oppose anything, just to observe and listen, which is important, as the right to free speech is equally valid for both sides.
To conduct this exercise, don’t show up in your super -cool guy tacti-cool wardrobe, or in your American flag T shirt, or your silly “Boog Boi” Hawaiian nonsense, you want to approach this from a gray man perspective. I wore jeans and a plain polo shirt, with a basic (non-tactical looking) ball cap. When wearing a face mask and sunglasses, no one could possibly have described me or picked me out from the rest of the crowd.
Backpacks were very common, so wearing one fit in. My backpack, however, had my bulletproof laptop sleeve from Premier Body Armor in it, just in case (check out premierbodyarmor.com). I also had a hoodie, a different color ball cap, and a different color face mask so that if needed, I could change my total appearance in seconds.
While I was not unarmed, there was not a handgun on me or in the backpack, because I was not there to counter-protest, or defend, but to observe. Having a firearm would have just raised my own stress level while walking among potentially hostile actors, so it would have done more harm than good. There are plenty of other defensive options.
Let’s get on to what I learned.
First, while the protest was indeed Black Lives Matter themed, the group leader quickly pointed out that ANTIFA was indeed present to “organize and provide support”. To hear someone openly say that, was a bit shocking. I had already noticed several of them in their all black gear and red & black bandanas.
They had “Skyler”, the ANTIFA “coordinator” speak. He said that they were there only in a support role. He pointed out that they had medics with red and green crosses on their arms for any health issues, and then he ominously said “our security staff is circulating through the crowd, observing, for your safety”. The left hasn’t even seized power and they’ve already got their secret police in place. That should scare you all. I must have done alright, because they didn’t throw me out.
Next, a series of speeches began, and I was appalled at the amount of disinformation spread by leaders in the movement as well state, local, and federal elected officials.
A speaker claimed that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1867, despite us being there to celebrate the day that people in Galveston, Texas heard about it on June 19, 1865. I guess Galveston is just way ahead of it’s time. That same speaker claimed that the Proclamation only freed slaves in the Confederate States, not all states. While that is technically true, it’s dishonest, as the northern states had already abolished slavery.
Then we got to Debbie Dingell, a United States Representative, whose family has held that seat for 87 consecutive years, but NOW she’s ready to do something about racial injustice. She misquoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and not one person called her out on it. She said that her favorite quote of his was that “Darkness cannot defeat darkness”, which is crazy, because if it was really her favorite she would know that he actually said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness”. Rep. Dingell then got the crowd all worked up by shouting that Donald Trump shouldn’t be going to Oklahoma City this week, and that Oklahoma City is where the Tulsa Massacre occurred (it didn’t, it occurred, surprisingly, in TULSA). You’d think that her staff would have prepared her remarks with truthful information. I do have good news for Rep. Dingell, I can confirm that Donald Trump is NOT going to Oklahoma City this week.
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed took a few minutes to spread more provable lies. He claimed that the Flint Water Crisis was done intentionally to poison black children, and was proof of systemic racism. Never mind the fact that the Flint City Council who made the vote that caused the crisis was made up of 8 black members and 1 white, and 100% Democratic Party. The crowd cheered on his lies, without bothering to fact check a single bit.
There was a speaker from the local school board who discussed “Educational Racism”. I thought that holding everyone to the same set of standards, regardless of race, was equality, but today I learned that THAT was Educational Racism. Apparently, students of color should be held to lower standards. Fighting Educational Racism sounds to me a lot like, well, racism.
Several of the day’s speakers shouted about defunding and abolishing the police, who despite all the hatred spewed at them, made a Herculean effort to keep the protestors from being ran over by average citizens as they took to the streets.
The group of about 2,000 then began to march. Rather than waiting for the police to secure the end of the street, they jumped out into traffic, walking into oncoming traffic, trapping three vehicles inside the protest, and surrounding them. While there was no violence, can you imagine having been inside one of those vehicles? That’s one reason that I advocate checking every single day for protests in your local area, so that you can plan to avoid this exact situation.
At each intersection, the ANTIFA security had the entire procession stop and block from all directions for a few minutes before moving on. The lead ANTFA security person was interesting….he was wearing an Interceptor Body Armor vest, which indicated to me that they had some intent to potentially engage in violent behavior. Several other ANTIFA personnel were wearing helmets, also indicating a potential for violence.
Once the procession reached the Washtenaw County Justice Center, the crowd knelt and paused for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
All in all, the crowd was peaceful, although there was an undercurrent that seemed to be wanting an excuse for violence to break out, but the crowd returned to the Diag at the University of Michigan without incident.
I did notice that the lead and follow vehicles were the exact same two vehicles that I observed at another protest in Wayne County, proving that these are indeed NOT spontaneous or grass-roots efforts, but a well-organized campaign by a central group.
I’ll be doing this again, looking for the same outlier personnel and vehicles, and identifying who they are, to increase my knowledge of the local threat.
It wouldn’t be my blog without tying the principles back to the Ultimate Tactical Handbook, the Bible. As far as just keeping quiet in the face of people who refuse to listen to reason, I have two pieces from the Book of Proverbs that will keep you safe when among those who are looking for a fight:
Those who guard their lips, preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,
but the lips of the wise protect them.
I highly recommend you do it too, just make sure you keep quiet and unnoticed, these people are not interested in rational debate.