Do Your Intelligence Work (continued)
In addition to knowing who is out there, there are other things you can do. Listen to local law enforcement with a scanner. I would not rely on the various scanner apps and feeds on certain sites that also list frequencies for a lot of agencies and organizations, such as radioreference.com. The feeds you hear are provided by someone in the area with a scanner that is feeding into the Internet. The problem is, you are reliant on what they are feeding, which is usually their primary dispatch channels. If you have your own scanner, such as the Home Patrol 2 , which comes highly recommended as the easiest to use for a non-technical geek, you control what you listen to. Sometimes there is more information on some of the other channels, such as gang or drug unit channels. Sometimes these are encypted, so that the gangs can’t get the same intel you are trying to get. Having a hand-held scanner with you provides you information while you are out and about. There is a hand-held Home Patrol series  and Whistler  also makes some good scanners. You want to make sure it will “hear” the radio systems in your community; many are, or will soon be, P25 Phase 2. Any with this capability should be backwards compatible to any existing older systems. When things go bad, listen to FRS, GMRS, MURS, and other frequencies that are readily available in off the shelf radios; the bad guys might be using them to coordinate their activities. Of course, they also might be using any number of scanner apps, which are much more difficult to intercept but tend to eat up battery life.
Sign up for news alerts from your local news agencies. They are usually faster at reporting events in your area than national news outlets. Include traffic alerts too, because if demonstrators block roads or roads are blocked off for protests, hopefully you will get this information before you run into it. Know different routes to get out of an area; having a GPS navigation device  can help, but personal knowledge is even better. Make sure you know different ways out of your work building and any other building you go into. This is especially important for active shooter scenarios but also if demonstrators block entrances. You don’t want to try and get through a crowd and find yourself getting sprayed in the face with mace, being struck or having urine or other substances thrown at you. At the very least, you will have your picture taken by the agitators. (Look how many of them are taking pictures; you don’t think it’s just for a memento do you?) You can also subscribe to Sam Culper’s weekly intelligence brief’s at https://readfomag.com/subscribe/ . They provide information on conflicts between the U.S., China, and Russia, but they are also focusing on domestic instability, including mapping the social networks of violent extremist groups, on both sides of the political spectrum. If you get the chance to take one of his courses, I also highly recommend them.
“Ultimate victory is in avoiding the fight,” Sun Tzu.
Be the Gray Man
Don’t wear anything that identifies who you support, not only the obvious red Trump baseball hat but NRA, III%, Oath Keepers, or other Pro 2A groups. Don’t wear insignia of who you work for or anything else, especially if that organization supports the POTUS. If it is part of your work uniform, then have a change of clothes before you travel home. I am surprised every day by the number of security and TSA personnel I see traveling on public transport to and from their jobs. It is now believed the recent shooting of a transit security officer in Denver was because he was mistaken for a police officer6. When I was in law enforcement (many years ago), we were taught not to do this for a number of reasons but mostly for the safety of ourselves and our families. Always play the “what if…”, and constantly mentally map ways out. Avoid getting in a crowd, stay on the outer edges of any group so you have several options in which way to go. Don’t run, as you will attract attention; instead, walk with purpose.
Social media is a new issue we have to deal with. While it can be a source of a lot of intel, that works both ways. If you want to maintain a social presence, create a fake profile. This takes time, as anyone should be suspicious of a profile that has been created recently, with few pictures and friends. Even if you don’t have listed where you live, et cetera, it is easy to start looking at your friends and see where they live to narrow down where you live. Turn off geotracking in your smart phone, and don’t post where you are having dinner or events you are at or are planning to go to.
Have a “gray” vehicle. What I mean is don’t have stickers or window decals that can provide bad guys with intel, such as the groups you belong to and thus your political persuasion. I always laugh at the “family” decals, as that tells me how many are in your family, possibly if you have a dog, then of course add “my daughter is an honor student at…”, and now I know where your kids go to school. If you have a Ham license, don’t put ham tags on your vehicle; you might as well put your address in big letters on the bumper. Also, get a PO Box for most of your mail. At least you’ve added a layer of obscurity. If you can park in a garage, that’s even better, because then it is less obvious if you are home or not. Develop counter-surveillance skills. Learn to tell if someone is following you, take different routes home. (I love roundabouts; I go around them a couple of times, as these are the easiest way to see if someone if following.) Vary your times you go into or leave work, and vary the times and routes you take your dog for walks. Make it difficult for them. Any time you are out in public, you should always be in at least awareness condition yellow7. When there are protests anywhere in your area, you had better be in condition orange and ready to move to condition red. There are a number of books listed in the references at the end that talk to surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques.
“Being prepared for all circumstances is what ensures certain victory.” Sun Tzu.
Options If You Get Caught In A Protest
If you have done all the above but suddenly find yourself caught in a protest that starts to get ugly, then there are options that you need to consider. Many of those options may depend on what you are carrying. In the winter I keep a bag in my car with extreme cold weather clothing in addition to an extreme cold weather sleeping bag system and other supplies. Being prepared for civil disturbances is no different; keep a bag of supplies handy.
If you are in your vehicle, you will no doubt have a fairly large quantity of resources to defend yourself. First and foremost, try to get out of the area. This is where navigation devices can come in handy. However if you find yourself surrounded by protestors, make sure your doors are locked, but if you feel that your life or those with you is in danger you may be able to drive through any human road block. Having been a paramedic for over 25 years, I’ve seen many accidents. Steel always wins over “bags of mostly water”. If you carry, I suggest that you do not show your firearm unless there is no way out. If you are forced to abandon your vehicle, such as a city being at complete gridlock, a hand held GPS, such as the Garmin 64ST with street view  will be useful. I know people who “load heavy”, meaning their vehicle is ready for any “zombie” outbreak and abandoning it is the last thing they want to do. At the least, it’s going to get vandalized or burnt, and even worse you could be giving the protestors firearms, ammunition, body armor, et cetera.
Eye protection is a must! I have sunglasses, clear glasses as well as a mirrored/in-between glasses for cloudy days that are all safety glasses made by Nemises. Not only do they protect you from the sun, but also dust, wind, and will prevent pepper spray or other fluids getting directly into your eyes. You may still experience some of the effects of pepper spray, but you will give yourself some vital time before your vision is impacted. I never go outside without protecting my eyes. Blind fold yourself one time, and try and navigate around your house quickly. After you’ve smashed your toes a few times, you will understand how important your vision is. An N95 mask  will reduce pepper spray, and again other liquids, from directly entering your mouth, again buying you vital seconds. A bandana  can be used and is less obvious, but beware then you could look very much like the protestors. This could be good for blending in but be bad because police could think you are one. Carrying water will help wash the spray or liquid out of your eyes and off your skin. Milk is best for pepper spray, but a it’s a little more difficult to carry 24/7. Liquid antacid  (such as Maalox) is also said to work; carrying some diluted antacid is easier. Drink it if sprayed in the mouth, and wash your face and eyes with it. Clothing that covers most of your body is highly recommended; keep pants, long sleeve shirt, walking boots, et cetera in your “protest bag”. The less mace you get on your skin, the better you will be.