From reader George T.:

I don’t know if you do question posts based on emails, but a couple of cases have recently had me thinking about how one should act in public to balance tactical concerns and social acceptability. Both of these guys only had a second or two to react once it became clear that there was a threat. That moment is obvious on video but I doubt I’d have caught it fast enough were I in their shoes . . .

Clearly, their biggest mistake was letting the attackers get so close to them. Being in those places at all might have been another mistake — the heavily gentrified Ford lofts in Atlanta abut the shared parking lot of a liquor store and a grocery referred to as “Murder Kroger.”

But sometimes you find yourself in a dangerous place, either by accident or because you didn’t have a choice. How should that knowledge modify your behavior? You can’t yell or draw your weapon every time someone walks within 10 feet of you and crossing the street might not be an option in a busy city. I’d be interested in what the TTAG community thinks.

http://midtown.patch.com/articles/apd-releases-video-of-victim-suspect-in-poncey-highland-killing
http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattle911/2012/09/20/watch-brutal-attack-in-belltown-alley/

31 Responses to Question of the Day: How Do You Balance Tactical Concerns and Social Acceptability?

  1. A gun is only one piece of a defensive mindset. If awareness has set off your spidey sense and avoidance is not working, direct eye contact (eyes lowered) sends the message you are ready to defend yourself if the other person is indeed a threat. If the other person is not meaning to threaten you, they’ll either wave back or take no notice of you. In a dark alley or breezeway, I don’t care if someone thinks I’m profiling them.

    And speaking of which, it doesn’t just happen in scary places at odd hours. A crazy dude tried to brain my friend with a brick on a busy SF street at lunchtime. Fortunately, the crowd alerted him to the danger. His mistake was responding to crazy dude’s ramblings.

  2. Non-black, in black neighboorhood.. Might as wear a large sign saying ‘rob or shoot me please’. Common sense people..

    • I have two daughters who live in that area and it is not a black neighborhood. However, it is certainly racially and economically diverse; A LOT of young professionals of all races live there. It certainly is an area though where being alert with your head on a swivel is important.

      • I shop at Murder Kroger pretty frequently, and I have to agree with BirdeyeDrew, above. Definitely not an black, white or anything neighborhood, just a mixed-bag intown area.

        A wise man once told me that “situational awareness is a must in Atlanta,” and he made no distinction as to area. I think this is the right approach in Atlanta and everywhere else. Stay frosty and keep moving, no matter where you are; you can’t assume that there isn’t a gunman waiting to rob you just because you’re in a good neighborhood. To illustrate: there were a string of robberies a couple years back at the Post Briarcliff in the affluent, relatively low-crime Druid Hills section of Atlanta. The jack boys were there because they knew the environment was target-rich, being populated predominantly by Emory University students.

        As to the question posed by the original post, I will say that I have no problem shedding social norms if I think there is danger afoot. I keep moving when folks talk to me on the street or at the gas station, I will leave an ATM vestibule room if anyone comes in after me, and I have no problem telling anyone to BACK UP! in my best police voice if they get too close.

  3. He appears to be waiting for an elevator or door to open and he’s standing with his back to the entryway with his hands in his pockets. So he wasn’t paying attention.
    If he had just turned around to look at the guy it would have changed everything. And if he took his hands out of his pockets as well.

    What I get from this is don’t stand with your back to the doorway with hands in pockets when you hear someone come in.

  4. You need to carry your weapon in a manner which allows you to gain access without it being too obvious. A pistol in a roomy jacket pocket is my choice. If necessary I’ll put a hole in my jacket. I’d rather be the one doing that than a stranger.

  5. It’s simple learn to read body language and facial expressions, and “Be curious” of sorts, look around at everything and everyone that you hear. Or modify your own body language to read “aggressive” It helps a lot.

  6. Pull your head out of your ass and put it on a swivel. We live in a violent world and I don’t care if I offend the social acceptabilities of total strangers I’ll likely never see again.

    Stand with your backs to the wall and survey every person in the area. I routinely put myself between my wife and grandkids and approaching strangers. If the strangers get offended, so what. I have been involved in a couple of ugly street incidents involving mentally unbalanced people and the police. Myself and my kids walked away unharmed each time.

  7. That video illustrates pure “condition white”. I avoid it if I can but I certainly have fallen prey to it before in my lifetime.

  8. I believe Dan has stated before that he’s from Atlanta, so he can back me up here. East Atlanta, Ponce, and that area in general, are not safe places to be, period. With the exception of SW Atlanta, around the airport, it is probably the most dangerous area in the city. To make things worse, there are a ton of rich urbanites in that area who live in condition white most of the time. Unless my job (surveying) takes me down there, I stay the heck away, and I only live 7-9 miles away.

  9. Gee, I wonder why hasn’t NPR covered this incident as a hate crime?

    I understand being aware of one’s surroundings but I refuse to live in a place where I would have to be on a razors edge state of consciousness all the time.

      • This “thought police” mentality (aka hate crime, etc) is crap from the beginning and is dangerous.

        The crime is the _action_. The motivation is completely irrelevant except in a academic setting.

        Awareness is key and NOBODY is fast enough to respond to a ambush or if they are blindsided. If you want to be safe you need to have situational awareness and even then you can’t stop a skilled, determined, brutal, and aware attacker. What you can do is if you are lucky you can turn the tables.. if you are not armed and are not trained then the chances of that happening are vanishing small.

  10. I don’t see how standing in a public well-lit wide open area while waiting for an elevator can be construed as doing something “stupid”.

    Get a grip people. You don’t have to be dumb, stupid,our have done something wrong to become a victim. Sometimes it happens even after all the right choices have been made.

  11. Hate to shatter your ego Ringo, but a well-dressed Black in a Black neighborhood is gonna get jumped just as fast . . . .

  12. Hate to shatter your ego Ringo, but a well-dressed Black in a Black neighborhood is gonna get jumped just as fast . . . .same as a well-dressed Black in a white trailer park . . . crime knows opportunity

  13. First, I’m sorry this guy died. I hope they catch the scumbag.

    It could happen anytime and anyplace. You put yourself at a greater risk going to a bad area but, you can’t run from evil.

    Watch this video. Broad daylight, no reason, lots of people around, nobody did anything.

  14. I do not balance tactical concerns and social acceptability. Social acceptability is a psychological disease rooted in the need to conform to the lowest common denominator. Social acceptability is why teenagers express their individuality by trying to look exactly like every other teenager. It’s why grown men who should know better wear ties. Social acceptability why this year’s hem length is sooooo important. Social acceptability is why everyone needs their own personal water bottle and the latest iPhone.

    I hope that armed self-defense never becomes too socially acceptable. Predators usually choose stragglers. If nobody straggles, then we’re all at greater risk.

    • Predators usually choose stragglers. If nobody straggles, then we’re all at greater risk.

      That’s an excellent argument for keeping a laser-sighted .22 loaded with subsonic rounds handy. Great for kneecapping the weak member of your group so the rest can escape.

      Wait, what?

      • If they were the weak member of the group they weren’t going to make it anyway. Might as well give their death some meaning. Meaning it was better for them to go than me.

    • Ralph, I normally agree with you on posts like these, but in this case I must protest.

      Personally, I need to balance social acceptability with tactical awareness and capability. As a college student, I need to dress professionally and convey a sense of competence and capability in my appearance and actions. I wear a jacket and tie at my internship because I need to appear professional, and I wear a scarf around my neck when it’s cold, even though it’s essentially a giant noose around my neck.

      Every person needs to find their own balance. Do I step back from my car and keep my head on a swivel (like my dad taught me) when I’m filling up my gas tank? Absolutely. Do I avoid doing stupid things at stupid times in stupid places? You betcha. Am I willing to take an M1A with me to a job interview? No. I wish I could.

      Everyone’s situation is different. For the record, I do carry a water bottle on me with a litre or two of water in it, and I prefer little to no break on my trousers. 🙂

      All the best.

      Ben

  15. I have noticed that some of the sites images do not load, it seems to be random but in this case it is the basis for the post so that sorta spoils the experience for yours truely

  16. I am a loner by nature , generally no one gets within arms length of me unless its family or other trusted person.

    “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

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