Lessons From Brooklyn Center

NYT Photo

Last night, a police shooting sparked spontaneous and immediate rioting in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. This area is part of the Minneapolis metro area, where the George Floyd/Chauvin trial is taking place.

Just like Kenosha last year, things devolved almost instantly from calm to lawlessness, so I wanted to discuss some learnings from that, some tactical evolution by the rioters, and some immediate actions we can all take.

Understand, we are NOT taking sides or discussing the right or wrong of the police actions, but as people into preparedness, we have to examine the tactics of the rioters, the tactics of the police response, and what these things mean for self-sufficiency.

Immediate Response

At the original scene, we saw the police allow property damage without intervention. There were two police vehicles less than 30 feet from a police line that the police allowed to be destroyed without attempting to arrest anyone at all.

The only time police action was taken was when subjects attempted to harm them. In one well-shared video, a man raised a chunk of concrete to throw and was immediately hit in the chest with a bean bag round.

From a preparedness standpoint, we need to understand that if the police aren’t going to protect their own vehicles, they certainly aren’t going to protect your car or other property. You are responsible for your own security.

Police Vehicle Destroyed

Understand also that traffic stops, which is how this initiated, can happen ANYWHERE. A lot of people think these incidents only happen “downtown” or in a rough area, but traffic stops occur everywhere and that’s where the initial protest will be.

It’s also important to note, as I pointed out last week, that ANTIFA takes advantage of these incidents, and they are calling for MORE violent protests and to move the protests from commercial areas into suburban neighborhoods.

Police Station Incident

After the police left the initial scene, the crowd descended on the local police station. At the local police station, there was an hours-long fight between the police and the protestors, with hundreds of protestors surrounding the station and throwing fireworks and projectiles at the police. There were also multiple incidences of gunfire.

As I point out regularly, you should have every police station plotted on your Area Study. In a protest situation, you need to avoid them at all costs. If you have to pass one on the way home, it’s vital to have a plan that avoids that area. If you live near one, have a plan to be able to leave quickly or secure your location in the event of a protest.

Another important point to remember is that if hundreds of police are defending the stations, the criminals know that the rest of the city has little or no coverage and your risk of crime goes up, which leads to the next incident.

At the police station, several protestors approached and threatened people who recording or live streaming. In Detroit, over the weekend, a live streamer was threatened, attacked, and robbed of his camera for filming.

Shopping Center Incident

Once the protestors knew that the police were tied up defending the station, they went to a major retail strip center and looted literally everything. They began with a Little Ceasars, then hit clothing stores, auto stores, cell phone stores, Walmart, and a few liquor stores and gas stations.

Here we saw an evolution in protest tactics in response to a change in police tactics. Livestream channel “Live on Patrol” is a police officer from that area who livestreams his patrols, and I think that’s where the protestors learned what the police were doing.

Patrol cars just drove through the area with their sirens and lights on, trying to scare the looters off. As they drove though, officers would call out over their radios, which are recorded, every license plate number that they saw, obviously for later prosecution.

The protestors almost immediately then removed their license plates.

The lesson for us is, if we find ourselves in a protest situation, any vehicle without a license plate is probably up to no good.

I can attest to this because on the day after the 2020 election, I was out front of the TCF Center in Metro Detroit, working a protection detail for a media figure. I watched a van pull off the road, and the occupants remove the license plates. Then then made two passes, apparently picking out victims. I pointed out the traffic violation of no plates to the DPD tactical officers and they stopped the car, finding impact weapons in the back.

Shopping Center

At the shopping center, we also saw no enforcement activity by the police whatsoever. They did attempt to limit looting with announcements over their loudspeakers, but they didn’t attempt to arrest looters for the first few hours.

For us, the lesson is that, once again, the police will not be stopping to help you. You are responsible for your own safety. The side effect will also be that medical services will not be coming in an un-secure environment, so your first aid kit and skills will be vital.

Some of these businesses were open when it happened, and the rioting began so fast, that it’s conceivable that people were trapped at work, and had to figure out how to escape the area. This is why I say you need a get home bag and a change of clothes in your car, if your work clothing would draw attention to you. A full face mask and a hat can help avoid attention (it’s so crazy that wearing a full mask is now the way to not stand out).

Rioting Spreads

As night fell, riots spread to both downtown Minneapolis and St Paul. Many more businesses were looted, and there was at least one vehicle ramming by a large vehicle into a police vehicle. Gunfire at police and between protest groups was rampant.

Listening to radio traffic, there were multiple incidents of people in upper-level apartments, being trapped while rioters looted and set fire to ground floor businesses. Police weren’t arriving on these calls until about 30-40 minutes after the calls. We’re fortunate that there wasn’t more life lost.

Overall Learnings

First, we can’t predict when the next protest will happen. You need to keep a “get-home” bag and maybe a change of clothes/footwear in vehicle at all times. I also recommend keeping your vehicle fueled up. In an area where riots are happening , one of the first executive orders issued by the local or state government is stopping the sale of gasoline to stop fires.

If you watched the events unfold, you may have noticed that all of the video as constantly buffering and low quality. That’s because of all of the people using the phone network in that area. Have an alternate communications plan, like radios, and have them available at all times.

Not to beat the drum on this, but the police will not be there to help you. Not only will they be tied up handling the public disorder, but ask yourself how willing you would be, given the riot just started by doing your job, to jump in and start arresting people? You wouldn’t be.

I recommend keeping a small, concealable, body-worn camera with you at all times. You can clip it on a record without making it look like you are wearing a camera. I have a few, one of which looks like a pen, and the others are just pocket-clip cameras. These are for your legal self defense, in case you need to defend yourself. Keep these charged and maybe attached to your Get Home bag. I have the one shown below attached to the chest strap of my Get Home bag. It records video and audio, as well as providing a date/time stamp.

My Body Camera

Another issue to pay attention to is that your elected leaders may indeed make the situation worse. While the protest was only localized at the crime scene, the Governor of Minnesota issued a statement condemning another black man’s “life taken” by the police. I’m sure he didn’t intent it to, but the Governor’s statement appeared to JUSTIFY the rioting, and shortly after, the looting began.

Be prepared, be ready, and be safe.

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Published by JD

I'm a defensive firearms and martial arts instructor, as well as a professional security & loss prevention consultant. I train people on how to defend themselves, their workplaces, and homes, as well as how to be prepared & aware. I offer corporate active shooter defense training as well.

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