Armed Encounter: Libyan Military Confront Protesters

A crowd is an animal unto itself. Unlike individuals, or small groups of individuals, a crowd moves with unpredictable speed, direction and ferocity. Which is why effective crowd control requires a large block of police acting as a single solitary group. A crowd is intimidated by mass. When a police officer is isolated within an angry mob, nine times out of ten, they’re doomed. Whereas a single person would never have the courage to stare down a drawn gun, a crowd knows instinctively that there’s safety in numbers. They gain individual and collective courage from the simple idea that someone may get shot, but it probably won’t be me. The wide-eyed, handgun-wielding army guy was a very lucky man . . .

Note that he has his finger on the trigger, Suarez-style, hoping to hold off the entire mob with his gun (and hand-holding secret police friend). I’m saying no. The last thing the army guy wants to do is shoot someone “by accident.” At that point, he’d probably enrage the crowd and seal his fate. As keeping your finger off the trigger sacrifices .10 of a second response time, there’s no reason not to maintain the extra margin of safety.

The guy reloading his rifle in the middle of melee is [unwittingly] taking advantage of another interesting aspect of crowd psychology. Mobs looks for movement. Weird by true: if you stand still in a scene of swirling chaos, you may not be perceived as a threat. You may even become invisible. Hence the existence of the fight, flight or freeze response.

Did you notice the guy with his hands in a zip tie being hustled into the armored vehicle? I’d rather take my chances in the crowd than face whatever awaits me at the other end of that journey. No matter where you are in this kind of event, there’s a time when your survival depends on Adam Deciccio’s SSVOA (Speed, Surprise and Violence of Action). Even if that means running away.


  1. avatar miforest says:

    very few things in this world are as dangerous as a mob. and the world over, all mobs are the same once they reach a critical mass. It doesn’t matter who they are or where it sleems like they become pure animal instinct. I have seen a number of films like this where an officer buys enough time and space with a a weapon to escape.

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