Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Surviving a Riot

Hugh Muir and Riazat Butt report on the race riots in Birmingham. The violence was apparently started by a rumor of the rape of a young Carribean girl by Pakistani men. A pirate radio DJ reported the rumor on his station and then led a protest in front of the store where the rape allegedly occurred. It turned into looting and rioting pretty quickly, but when the local mosque was attacked, 300 men from a neighboring area moved to join the fray but were held off by police in full riot gear. At least one man is dead.

I've never been in a riot and with any luck I will never see one first hand. Riots present a fluid and chaotic situation and you'll have to trust your own gut instincts more than any set of pre-defined suggestions. But these are my general impressions:

1. If you can blend in, do so. Join the riot but escape at your first chance. Unless you're having a blast...

2. If you are a target of the riot, flee as best you are able. Don't worry too much about running people down. You may have to answer for it later, but it's better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

3. If you can't flee the area safely, hole up in a room and bar the door.

4. If you are attacked by a large number of people, curl up in a fetal ball and play possum.

It goes without saying, but I welcome suggestions and first-hand experience of riots.

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