Here’s How to Tell If a Riot Is About to Erupt in Your City

It seems like civil unrest has become an increasingly common occurrence in America over the past few years. Since the election we’ve seen a lot of protests turn violent, and in the years preceding the election, just about any controversial police shooting could spark a riot. As these incidents become commonplace, more people are becoming aware of just how tumultuous our nation really is. They want to know how they can protect themselves from civil unrest or avoid riots in the first place, especially if they live in urban areas.

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Coincidentally, I have firsthand experience on this subject. Though I have thankfully never been in a riot, I know exactly what it looks like on the streets in the hours before a riot kicks off. I was visiting Berkeley, California on December 6th, 2014, just before a massive protest for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown turned violent.

I left the city a couple of hours before things got crazy, though not because I knew what was coming. Though I had heard earlier in the day that there was going to be a protest, I didn’t think that anything serious was going to happen, because protests are a pretty common occurrence in Berkeley. This may sound crazy now, but at the time there was no reason to think that there was going to be a full-blown riot.

Always Be On the Lookout for Warning Signs

Though I was completely ignorant of what was about to go down, in hindsight there were plenty of red flags. I noticed them as I was walking through the city in the late afternoon, on my way to catch a BART train home.

For starters, there was a massive police presence everywhere I looked. There were more cops walking or driving around than I had ever seen in the city before before. That may sound like an obvious sign, but it was what the cops were doing and what kinds of equipment they had on hand that was significant. You could hear helicopters overhead, and there were several large nondescript buses parked near where the protest was about to begin. They were kind of like school buses, but painted white. In other words, the kind of buses that are often used to transport prisoners. They were clearly getting ready to detain a lot of people.

As for the behavior of the police, there was one thing I saw that stands out. I distinctly remember seeing two police officers tell a homeless man to leave the area. That’s common in some cities, but not Berkeley. There are homeless people everywhere and I’ve never seen the police do that. Unless the homeless are being unruly and someone calls the cops (which most people rarely do), the police seem to leave the homeless alone in Berkeley.

In hindsight it makes a lot of sense. After they close, the homeless often sleep in front of the shops where the riot was about to take place. And when the cops interacted with this guy, they weren’t being aggressive. The interaction looked pretty courteous. They weren’t removing someone who was causing a problem. They were removing him for his own safety.

And perhaps the most interesting warning sign I witnessed, has to do with what many of the businesses in the area did to prepare themselves for the protest. I saw dozens of shops close early. Their owners and employees had boarded up windows and doors, as if they were getting ready for a hurricane to rip through the city.

The reason why that’s so intriguing, is that before 2014 I don’t think Berkeley had seen a major riot in decades. I’m really not sure how these businesses knew that there was going to be unrest in the streets. Remember, Berkeley is practically the protest capital of the world. It seems like there is a protest going on in that city every week, and they rarely turn violent.  So how did they know that this time was going to be different? My only guess is that the police must have warned them ahead of time. Without that kind of advice, they would have been as much in dark as I was.

So keep these warning signs in mind the next time you visit a city. Don’t be like me. I just happened to leave as the city was gearing up for civil unrest. I had no idea of what was going on, and basically avoided the riot by dumb luck. When you see the police and the locals getting ready for a street battle, take note and get the hell out of there.


Additional Reading:

8 Prepper Principles for a Prepared Mind

Think Like a Navy Seal: Training Exercises to Toughen Your Mind

Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

7 Tips To Improve Your Situational Awareness

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published April 26th, 2017
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20 Responses to Here’s How to Tell If a Riot Is About to Erupt in Your City

  1. 2dougmac says:

    My wife has to go to downtown in a large city for work, on an irregular basis (works from home usually). When I find out she’s heading in, I check Google for social media postings of protests/rallies/antifa events/etc. Fortunately, there tends to be postings to promote these ‘events’. At least I can try to be aware of the organized events.

  2. Oren Player says:

    Why not start shooting them? Sooner or later you’ll run out of the snow flakes.

  3. BooBooBaby says:

    Glad you got out of there in time. Great article.

    I sure am getting sick of these Protesters aka Rioters! It is absolutely crazy.

    • L. A. McDonough says:

      Many get free food, motel and paid to raise hell thanks to Soros and other Trotsky-ites people, too lazy to work living on the dole..

  4. Neil S. Morrall says:

    it’s ‘with’ hindsight, and ‘in’ retrospect . . .

  5. Charlesrocks says:

    Those were some good beginning observations even if you didn’t stick around. Many times the police do not have fore-warning and today’s riots can, sort of, give clues and others events happen suddenly. Even ‘pop up’ or flash mob riots can be dangerous. Yes, be aware of your surroundings at all times, with your attention focused and hands free as possible. Be aware of sudden groups, particularly unified groups and very young and minority. If very loud it’s danger. If you’re in a car and can manuave at all go Transporter and get out of there. If boxed in, run. Grabbing anything useful as a weapon. Spot quickly the difference between a sudden large peaceful protest or angry crowd. React quickly. Get cover where you have an exit. Decide quickly what other personal tools you have for weapons or if time to use them. If assaulted on all sides brutalize the closest to you without losing attention on a sneak attack. Spin around. Don’t have a blind spot. Be quick and merciless but not too into it to be hit as distracted. If full on rushed cover in tight for protection and do severe damage in close until you get a gap. Then run, brutalizing whoever is closet to catching you. Make distance any way you can with multiple means to make sure you aren’t being followed. If you brutalized properly on the way you won’t be. But followed, those are more dangerous ones, so get into a police station. Unless your followers are the police. Also, quickly change up your look and then as soon as can after, change and destroy (burn) riot clothes. And that’s where my ‘caught in a riot’ experience ends.

  6. Milkshakesuds says:

    An associate of mine worked for a news organization some years ago. Her job was to go to riots wherever they happened in the country and record the license plates in the areas of the riots as well as surrounding areas. The vehicles/license plates were that same at all the riots.
    I hope this little bit o info helps yall.

  7. Dave says:

    Back in January 1991,I was very lucky not to get caught in the middle of a riot, when the protests against the first gulf war were coming down.I needed to get some artwork copied in the uptown area, to send off for publication. Deadlines were nearing. The entire block was filled with protesters, banging on their drums, yelling over megaphones, with police helicopters in the air.I was never so glad to finish up some copying and scram in my life.Today, I’d turn around and not take the risk.

  8. Vooch says:

    so the cops created the violence ?

    • Susan says:

      No. The presence of numerous cops is a sign that a riot is going to take place. SMH.

      • Vooch says:


        so the legion of armed government paramilitaries dressed in black itching for a fight had nothing to do with the subsequent violence

  9. L. A. McDonough says:

    Demonstrations can turn into riots as in Viet Nam, for ex: people on both sides start to argue maybe 3 or 4 people, then a fight breaks out and then spreads along with vandalism, burning , and even shootings (Kent State 1971). College campuses had problems past and present, recent riots and vandalism in Seattle, Oakland, etc. by leftists paid by Soros. Best to run the other way and stay out of crowds of any kind.

  10. Johnny Doh says:

    Warning signs to get out? Heck, sign me up for the riots! Let the looting begin!

    • Susan says:

      I’d say let the shooting begin, and I’d start shooting the looters.

      • Johnny Doh says:

        A looter shooter! Haven’t you heard the saying, “live and let loot?”
        For a loot hoot google “beer looter dude”.

  11. gdod25 says:

    A better report would be on how the police knew.

    • Susan says:

      These riots are planned, not spontaneous. The rioters are paid to wreak havoc, loot, attack innocents, and violate everyone’s rights. The US government awards grants to various outfits that get involved with civil unrest. It would be fairly easy to find out that these attacks are going to occur.

      • Johnny Doh says:

        Like I didn’t say, aint nuthin more funnerer than a good looting riot! You don’t need to pay them, they get plenty of reward from the looting when the cops “stand down for our safety”

  12. Susan says:

    He has first hand experience seeing the signs/symptoms that a riot is going to take place.

  13. Joe Nash says:

    Rioters should be arrested and looters should be shot. If the police followed these two simple rules, Antifa and BLM would cease to exist in six months.

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