Three Letters Re: Riots and Civil Unrest in America

James Wesley:
BB in California was spot on with his assessment of the 1992 riots and I doubt that will be the last time we will see such an uprising. One thing B.B. didn’t mention was the ripple affect to other parts of the LA area and around the nation. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this will never happen in your area.

I worked 20 miles east of downtown and lived another 20 miles further east – 40 miles from downtown, in a nice neighborhood. Even though I was a prepper way back then, I felt after the first day of rioting that “thankfully it’s not here.” When I went to work on the second day, a 7-11 up the street was robbed by thugs that took the entire cash register. As I passed through Pomona on the way home from work, there was palpable tension in the streets but I decided to go on my regular grocery run that evening in my own neighborhood. Shortly after arriving, someone walked into the store and yelled (and I’ll never forget this) “get your groceries now before they burn down this store too!”

I immediately left the store and decided that I didn’t need to risk my life for groceries since I had a good supply of food at home. I called into work and took the next few days off as vacation. Needless to say, that event made me an all-events rather than just an “earthquake only” prepper .- C.A. (now living in Oregon)


B.B. in California’s article was a good reminder of how quickly things can turn ugly. (Riots & Civil Unrest in America.) Although the only riot I’ve been close to was short-term, it created turmoil and danger for everyone around, whether we were there due to work or for curiosity. Speaking of curiosity – don’t be that curious, it could kill you. Many who came to watch the riot were attacked, injured, mugged and left to fend for themselves because no one wanted to confront the thugs.

One thing that the small riot taught me: have some 4’x8′ sheets of 3/4″ exterior grade plywood on hand to board up your windows. Many people here who had lived in hurricane country knew that boarding up would decrease the odds of their shops being damaged. These visionaries had enough sheets of plywood stored away that they could grab their wood and install the sheets over windows, front doors, and other potential entry points — no trip to the lumberyard necessary. They told me that storing the wood flat was important so it wouldn’t warp. Warped plywood, they said, would provide a raised corner for the looters to grab and pull up. So, their plywood was flat and difficult to get a grip on when it was attached by screws as tightly to the facade of the buildings as possible. These folks also had food and water on hand at their shops – they were prepped for just about anything, and had been long before the riots started.

Riots usually start pretty quickly once some event occurs. It’s not like you’ll have a week to prepare, you have to have your supplies and weapons handy at all times. For those who don’t have ham radios, I suggest getting a police scanner. As long as the power is still on, a scanner will keep you informed about the movements of the rioters and the size of the crowd. If the power is out, a 12 volt DC connection for your scanner will also work. When the power went out during our local riot, we were able to use the scanner in our car and kept track of how far away the looters and rioters were. A battery-powered handheld scanner works well, although you need a good supply of batteries during a long-term riot. It was comforting to know where the trouble was and that it was moving away, not closer.

Cities and counties in California are cutting their expenses, often cutting law enforcement in the process. As fewer men and women are available to work on the front line against civil unrest, more and more of the responsibility for protecting your loved ones and your property falls to the citizen. Prepare now, while you can. As B.B.’s article reminds us, unrest may be coming to a city near you. – Wry Catcher in California

Mr. Rawles:
Regarding B. B. in California’s article “Riots and Civil Unrest in America”, as an Army Reservist I can attest firsthand to the validity of his observation that National Guard troops would most likely be dispatched in an emergency with weapons but no ammo as our own Reserve Center has a nicely-stocked arms room but no ammunition is stored there at all. The act of obtaining ammo, even to go to the range, requires so much paperwork and bureaucracy that I can only imagine what a logistical nightmare it would be for any such local military force to try to obtain ammunition should it be needed for an emergency or to quell civil unrest. The military has such a phobia about soldiers having ammunition on their person that we were ammo-less during our two-week stay on base in Kuwait awaiting movement to Iraq, and this despite being welcomed into a war zone once we landed in Kuwait!

Godspeed and keep your powder dry! – Jon in New York