As the weather warms up, protest season is on us once more. We can expect more frequent protests, and potentially even worse ones than last year. In this article, we’re going to cover some lessons learned, discuss some events from this weekend, and talk about how to prepare for protests.
First, we need to understand the risks. The far left did not want Joe Biden to win the election, and the far right also did not. We are seeing a lot of cross-over now, as I’ll document below with my observations, where we can begin to see both sides come together, and not in a good way.
We are approaching the anniversary of the George Floyd incident, and the trial is on-going. The prosecution is facing an uphill battle to get any convictions out of it, and we will probably see unrest either way. An acquittal will be seen as allowing police brutality, and a conviction will be seen as proving that police are intentionally attacking black folks. There is no “winning” situation here.
So, let’s allow that to be our first preparedness lesson: Regardless of the outcome, there will be violent protests. There will also be increasingly confrontational protests against the government by both sides. There is no magic pill, and there is no return to normality.
In addition, we are also seeing increasing signs that vaccination will be required to travel and participate in commerce, which will lead to mass noncompliance and protest activity, some of which is turning violent in other countries.
The second lesson is borne out by my observations in Lansing this weekend: The police will not be intervening to protect you. We have seen time and again police just following and monitoring crowds. In Lansing, Michigan this weekend, police followed the marchers but vanished as three different groups of armed protestors surrounded City Hall and Police Headquarters, with armed protestors literally standing in front of the Governor’s office. The city police were not present at all.
Before we move into some counter-measures and preparedness steps, let’s talk about observations.
First, protest activity isn’t inherently bad. Injustice must be opposed by everyone. The problem develops when protests turn into harassment or forced behavior modification. This happens in issues of race, which is where we are.
What do I mean by harassment and forced behavior modifications? I mean that if you are protesting police brutality, like we all should, then you shouldn’t be destroying a restaurant, or forcing it’s patrons to raise a fist to keep from being attacked. Surrounding people’s houses for their political views has nothing at all to do with your stated goal of ending police brutality.
As an example, this weekend, while observing protests in Lansing, Michigan, I was following an unknown armed militia group of about 20-25 people moving down the street. I stopped and spoke to a police sergeant (letting him know who I was and what I was doing lest I be lumped in with these guys). Within seconds of me walking away from the officer, a nice lady in a Jeep pulls up and asks me what is going on ahead. When I explained that BLM & ANTIFA had a planned rally, she immediately began to tell me that this armed group wasn’t ANTIFA but was clearly some type of Proud Boys group (wearing not one PB logo? Nope). At that point, I knew she was with ANTIFA so I tried to disengage. She tried claiming to be law enforcement, but sputtered when I asked to see credentials. I stepped away and immediately, the armed group turned to look at me, because she was obviously on the radio with them or they were monitoring her frequency.
As I began my break-contact drill, ANTIFA counter-surveillance guys wearing Iron Front logo patches started coming out of various college buildings. I was able to break contact and change my outward appearance, so that was simple, but they clearly wanted to have a conversation with me.
First lesson from that story: They are really upping their counter-surveillance and security game, and they are willing to openly confront you, while armed. The designation of counter-surveillance is important. We need to be doing more of the same. Their ultimate goal, based on my own radio intercepts, was to try and identify via license plate anyone they are suspicious of. Then, they show up at the house, and we’ve all seen those videos; harassment and the home owner is either assaulted or arrested for defending their home..
The counter-measure is to know how to run a surveillance-detection run or SDR. An SDR is a seemingly random wandering, allowing you to see if you are being followed. Entering a business and immediately exiting again, or using windows to see reflections behind help you spot surveillance. If you keep seeing the same people wandering just as aimlessly as you, they’re probably following you.
Then, you need an anti-surveillance plan. This is an active attempt to elude identified surveillance, without letting them know that you did it intentionally. This requires pre-planning and knowing the area you are operating in. Knowing what alleys lead where, knowing where parking garages are, and what businesses and buildings are interconnected. Parking garages are great because you can literally hop a wall to exit one, avoiding exits that may be watched.
Another lesson from this is one I’ve discussed many times – A gray man needs to be able to instantly change his profile to appear as a completely different person in just seconds. You can carry a packable jacket, a different hat, glasses, different face mask, and even a cover for your backpack and completely emerge as a different person. You could even change your walk. You could carry a roll-up duffel bag in your backpack, and completely swap them.
Once I broke contact using anti-surveillance (college campuses are great for this) and changed profile, I took a longer route back to the actual protest site. I knew that my profile change worked because I saw the woman in the Jeep drive by me a few times and she never gave me a second glance.
Once back there, I observed the protest. What I saw were three different armed groups. There were some New Black Panther Party folks armed with pistols, a few guys in body armor that said “BLM” on the back with long rifles, and then there was this new militia. What was odd that I noticed was that this new militia stayed back, and ANTIFA had placed a row of their own security between the protest and the militia with shields.
I felt that this indicated distrust, which is never good between different armed groups. Journalist Ford Fisher interviewed the militia, who didn’t identify themselves, and they said that they were there to support BLM, but weren’t directly engaged because of “politics”. Take from that what you will, but the security team following them were clearly wearing ANTIFA Iron Front patches. It’s entirely possible that ANTIFA was following them because they didn’t know who they are, but they all turned when she got on the radio. It’s an unknown, and it increases all of our risk.
This is an example of un-easy truces and joint operations between the far-left and far-right. Neither trusts each other or the government. This leaves us in the middle in a dangerous spot.
The last lesson learned is that all of the groups had personnel using our old friend, Baofeng radio. With a little work, it would be easy to scan and determine what frequencies they were using. A lot of people think they should report them to the FCC for using unapproved radios on GMRS/FRS, which is what I’ve heard them using, but I have few issues with that. First, it will accomplish nothing unless the FCC is standing right there, ready to listen in and deal with it. Second, and most important, it’s always best to just determine their frequencies used and listen in, to better counter-act any aggressive act (like surveillance) or gather information.
For preparedness purposes, we need to develop the capability to intercept their communications. No license is required to listen and you can gather good information. Program in the GMRS/FRS channels, and the “stock” Baofeng BF-888 frequencies, and you’ll find them. I use a “quad-watch” vehicle radio for this, usually sitting on high ground at the top of a parking structure.
With all of this ongoing, what can we, as people into preparedness do to protect ourselves?
- Start information gathering – These groups organize protests on Facebook and Twitter. Find your local groups and start monitoring their planned events.
- Keep a change of clothes n your car. If you come out of work and find a spontaneous protest, changing your clothes from obvious affiliations (work uniforms, business dress) can allow you to blend in and avoid harassment.
- Learn that it’s OK to not engage. Don’t get into arguments with them. Here’s a Tactical Wisdom quote from the Ultimate Tactical Handbook to help: “Don’t have anything to do with stupid & foolish arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” 2 Timothy 2:23
- Conduct a surveillance detection run in high threat environments before returning to your vehicle.
- Have an ‘anti-surveillance’ plan.
- If demanded to raise a fist, raise a fist. It means nothing and beats a trip to the emergency room.
- Develop unarmed self defense skills, such as escapes from holds and grabs.
- Be prepared to leave your vehicle where it is parked and leave the area, even if it’s on foot, if a protest near your home or work becomes volatile.
- Develop the capability to monitor potentially hostile radio traffic.
- Be very careful in answering questions for strangers in times of protest. As I learned, they could be scoping you out for targeting and if you express the wrong view, they can get a swarm on you fast.
- Learn to identify and distinguish affinity group insignia, like the ANTIFA flags, 3% flags, Iron Front, BLM, New Black Panthers, etc.
- Understand that this situation is REAL & DANGEROUS – I see so many writing these groups off as kooks, or untrained. That may have been true at one time, but they are organized, are training, are fanatical, and are committed. Those things are dangerous in combination.
In the end, it all comes down to our favorite piece of Tactical Wisdom from the Bible:
The prudent see danger & take refuge;
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
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