Masked agitators smashing windows and inciting riots, organized groups putting wood on fires to burn stores, armed individuals taking control of capital buildings, protestors smashing windows and fanning fires, racial tensions, police firing rubber bullets and canisters of tear gas, the National Guard mobilized to protect citizens, vitriolic exchanges between the federal government, the state government, and local law enforcement, scenes of police brutality and the absence of police presence, police stations burning, a pandemic gripping a nation, and the desperation of unemployment at historical highs…these aren’t scenes from a futuristic movie of a dystopian society. These are scenes from this week in America, and as violent confrontations increase and expand like wildfires from their point of origin, it’s not a question of when martial law will be established, it’s a question of how it will be established in your community. Can you protect yourself from civil unrest and armed government overreach? Can a democratic society remain free much longer under such tremendous, violent pressure? Are government lockdowns inevitable, imprisoning you in your home? How much longer will your home even be safe?
In this blog entry, we will examine the multiple circumstances that will lead to a formal declaration of martial law and what you can do now to protect yourself. Even before the more formal declaration, however, it is important to understand that martial law can come in many forms and can be established without even a formal declaration. Armed police, National Guard, the military, even bands of controlling militias or armed citizens can bring about the same effect as martial law and can threaten your freedom and even your life. As a prepper, my primary concern is to look at the horizon and help you determine how and what you need to be prepared for. While some may want to see some political slant in this blog, know that there is not. As an observer of the current conflicts, I merely strive to extrapolate out the possible immediate effects which can threaten your safety and hope to provide you with a few measures to help keep you and your family safe.
In Response to Protests and Violence
With that caveat, the first most obvious way that a formal declaration can come about is in response to protests and violence. Historically, conflicts have usually been symmetrical in nature. That is to say that it was relatively clear that one side held a belief they were fighting for and the other side sought to maintain the peace and some semblance of the status quo. What we’re facing right now in America is asymmetrical divisions that don’t hold clear definable stances. There is a form of chaos as divergent parties sow division and spark conflicts that can easily spin out of control into larger, more wide-scale forms of insurrection.
Autonomous activist groups, armed militia groups seizing capital buildings and threatening lawmakers, ANTIFA, Black Lives Matter, White Nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and deeply divided political factions all tout the banners of their cause, but function to divide and stoke chaos. Though they may proclaim their motives are pure, many within these organizations are truly only interested in the destruction of the established order. A well documented and long time goal of white nationalists, for instance, has been to spark a race war. The Boogaloo/Blue Igloo/Blue Luau movement formed through the internet in 2019 has at its agenda the armed resistance of what they perceive is a tyrannical government. They are actively agitating to bring about a civil war.
ANTIFA, for instance, has a very anti-capitalism stance. Many of these groups are armed, radicalized, and coordinating efforts to sow chaos and destroy the stability in society. The bad news is that they’re doing a pretty good job right now of creating conflict, and though they may have vastly different motives and allegiances, they’re fighting alongside each other.
The state and federal governments are forced to respond to violence. There are two measured approaches in that response. The first is a call for unity and cessation of the violence, but with deep divisions between local, state, and federal authorities and some of those same authorities stoking the conflicts through their conflicts, action, or non-action, calls for unity fail to have any substantial effect. The second approach is to lock down and enforce order through armed forces. Whether those are local police, National Guard, or federal troops, it depends on the circumstances and who ultimately can control the conflicts, but they’re all martial law, even without a formal declaration. In the absence of any of the government methods of establishing control, you can expect armed individual groups to maintain control over pockets of cities. As those groups conflict with one another like a type of gang warfare, the fires of chaos continue to spread.
So, the government’s response to protests and violence is the most rapid and most likely possibility for the establishment of martial law.
To “Protect” Public Safety
Even with conflicts many miles away from our homes in faraway cities, martial law can be established in your area to “Protect” public safety. As these conflicts spread into other cities across the country, governments will act to ensure that their populations are safe. In an abundance of caution, police presence can be significantly stepped up. Curfews might be established to ensure peace at night. Everyday citizens might be stopped, questioned, investigated, or detained as possible agitators. Neighbors could turn on neighbors quite easily in such vitriolic times.
Under the guise of protecting public safety, martial law can easily creep into place over any population. And what happens when armed militia groups decide to take “public safety” into their own hands. Small, roaming bands of armed citizens can easily take the law into their own hands. The result of just two armed citizens taking the law into their own hands resulted in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man in Georgia. A few armed “do-gooders” unversed in the law and constitutional rights but fully believing that they are protecting the larger community can spark wide-scale violence. An even larger, more organized and well-armed group threatens the authority of the local police. Police actions to check compliance of an armed group could lead to even further conflict and violence in the street. Knowing that violence could stem from an armed citizenry, governments under the guise of maintaining public safety could establish curfews or laws that further agitate the population. One thing can lead to another in a cascading effect and martial law can easily be established in even the most seemingly peaceful community.
Already amidst a pandemic, and with violent protests in the streets, consider how the perceived need to protect public safety might be used as an excuse for martial law were any natural disaster to compound the problem. A hurricane, torrential rain flooding an area or breaking dams, an earthquake, or fires raging out of control. Any of these add fuel to the existing conflict and provide opportunities for agitators or increased law enforcement. Protecting public safety is a broad term for the suspension of rights, so be aware of how conflicts can compound the need to protect the public.
In Response to Federal & State Conflicts
The third way martial law can easily be established is in response to federal and state conflicts. Historically, the United States has had pretty clear definitions of power between local, state, and federal governments. The federal government has respected the state’s rights to deal with its problems until those problems were beyond their control. Today, these levels of government are deeply divided. The federal government routinely calls into question the state Governor’s authority. State governors routinely criticize federal overreach. Deep in an election year, as the President sows the seeds of contesting election results, and as states amidst a pandemic seek to ensure mail-in voting rights for its citizenry, a potential powder keg is being established. Regardless of any election outcome, the potential spark from a protest turned violent could easily lead to martial law. It’s not unimaginable to even visualize these festering and brewing divisions leading to a full-blown civil war. It’s odd to say that since that seemed like such a distant possibility just a few years ago; however, the lack of a federally orchestrated call for unity and increasingly more volatile pockets of civil unrest make a larger civil war possible.
Even without something as extreme as a civil war, as states seek to assert their rights to keep their populations secure under a constant barrage of federal criticism, it’s not unreasonable to assume that some states will seek to “go it alone” and further exasperate faction groups of their citizens. The federal declaration of a national emergency, however, gives the federal government authority to establish martial law. This can assuredly deepen the divisions between state and federal governments.
When the President tweets “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” shooting occurs in a martial law situation. So, it isn’t unreasonable or even hard to imagine that martial law and federal overreach is knocking at the door. While I am not striving to present any particular political view, any reasonable person would agree that the divisions between local, state, and federal governments have not been greater in our lifetimes. As these divisions become greater, without any clear call for unified efforts, the tug-of-war of power can easily trample over citizen rights and security. Martial law looms over even the seemingly safest of areas.
To Weed Out Agitators
The fourth way martial law can easily be established is by any enforcement agencies’ efforts to “weed out agitators.” We see glimmers of this in the incident in Waco Texas, the shootout at Ruby Ridge, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Bundy standoff. As governments make pre-emptive moves against radical groups in an attempt to seize weapons or thwart possible nefarious plans, they open the door to a potential backdraft of armed citizen response. Whether the perceived threatening group is radicalized or jingoistic matters not at all. In an attempt, for instance, to make sure protestors are not armed, could they stop and search everyday citizens merely caught in the same proximity of the protest? How would an armed member of one of the earlier mentioned groups respond to this detainment? How would his/her peers react? How would a normally law-abiding citizen react to a violation of their 4th amendment rights?
In any of those scenarios, the exertion of government authority can lead to a larger conflict and to the government’s need to establish martial law. Law enforcement’s goal is to get ahead of potential conflicts. Imagine if a homemade bomb similar to the one used in the Boston Marathon bombing were to detonate in a crowd of protestors or in a group of police officers. The resulting reaction could immediately lead to weeks of multiple arrests, illegal searches, and even armed conflicts. As law enforcement casts it’s dragnet and rounds up the usual suspects, a form of martial law is suddenly the reality without even a formal declaration.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
This all paints a very grim picture, I know. I wish there was a more promising and rosier world we were looking at, but there isn’t really a glimmer of perceivable de-escalation or calls for unity visible in the immediate future. That’s not to say we won’t get through this. We have seen conflicts and civil unrest before, and our country is founded on strong roots. As a prepper, there are things you can do now to encourage your safety should things continue to spiral out of control.
Move away from dangerous or potentially dangerous situations. Trying to get a better view of an amorphous and potentially exponentially increasing conflict can easily lead to you being swept up into the conflict. If you see someone smashing windows, don’t stop to blog it on your cell phone. Instead, immediately move in the opposite direction and don’t stop moving until you are far away from any chaos, even if this means making a circuitous route to your home base. It’s easy to think that you won’t be caught up in what you are seeing because you are one of the “good guys,” but in the fog of conflict, you are an unknown entity. You’re better served to get out of the area.
Prepare for an extended lockdown. As conflicts escalate and continue, you may need to spend an extended period in the safety of your apartment or home. Review and inventory your prepper supplies. Make sure to order online or shop for any items you may be missing. Prepare now before you find yourself in a desperate situation. Stock your food, water, and any medicines you may need for at least three weeks and longer if you are able. It’s possible that while violence or martial law spirals out of control outside, you can still be safe by bugging-in.
Don’t go out at night and avoid any large gathering crowds. Agitators are emboldened in the darkness and law enforcement knows this. Going out at night because it is quieter could result in you inadvertently stumbling across an agitator’s nefarious plans or law enforcement’s scrutiny as they seek to be hyper-vigilant.
Review your home security. Make sure your locks are working and your personal safety equipment is ready. Should conflict come to your doorsteps, make sure you have some level of security to keep safe. And, if you are unable to maintain the safety of your area, make sure you all know your bug-out routes and scenarios.
If fires are raging in a neighboring apartment building and fire and police can’t get there safely, you may have to flee with the supplies you can carry to a safer environment. Form a safety pact with nearby friends and family. If your location is compromised, you could bug-out to their location and vice-versa. These small partnerships can help you by making sure you’re not completely alone in a growing crisis.
Avoid expressing your political views, loyalties, or group affiliations. While it might be tempting to show up at a peaceful protest to show your solidarity, with evidence that agitators are active at these gatherings, it simply isn’t advisable. I do believe in the democratic process, however, so do please register to vote and call your lawmakers. Loudly proclaiming your affiliations in an amorphous crowd, however, during a growing conflict could make you a target from any number of directions. If you’ve ever seen a small fight turn into a large brawl, you’ll know why it’s important to think like the gray man. Can you disappear into the crowd and escape to safety? Can you blend into the background and be overlooked? I have another blog and video on the 3 Rules to Become A Gray Man.
These are, without a doubt, difficult times. Historically, we have, as a country, faced divisions and conflicts like this before. The Tulsa Race Massacre of the 1920s, the Chicago Riots in 1968, even the Minneapolis truck strike of 1934, conflicts will always exist in some form. They can become violent, and they can lead to declarations of martial law. Regardless of the formal declaration, forms of martial law through increased armed enforcement and proactive policing can lead to greater conflict.
I sincerely hope that we will see a positive resolution to the current conflicts we face, but it is imperative that you take measures now to prepare for extended and deepening conflicts in the future. Hopefully, cooler heads and level, steady leadership will douse the rising flames, but we have to prepare as if it may struggle to do so. For a deeper analysis of even more scenarios that could bring about martial law, please take a look at my blog “5 signs martial law is coming.”
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As always, please stay safe out there.