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Episode 180 S5-17

Crowd Control


Special Guest:

Dark Days in Denver Ch 17

Ben Branam

In this chapter of Dark Days in Denver, Cassidy arrives home and the crowds get thick. Here today to talk about crowd control and how to stay safe if things go wrong is Ben Branam host of the Modern Self Protection Podcast.

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If you are moving through a crowd that is surrounding you, make escaping a priority. The crowd will need to be dispersed with a diversion. Any persons of interest or weaker individuals should be surrounded with the guards or more capable individuals. A surge or crowd crush will stop all movement and could seriously injure you, your person of interest or your whole group. If you or a member of your group has a fire arm, you may need to fire shots into the air to disperse the crowd as a last resort. 

When you are moving through a crowd, always move perpendicular to the crowd. Sort of like playing a game of Frogger. Individuals are very intelligent but when you get a large group of people together in a crowd they become rather unintelligent and a "mob mentality" takes over. When this happens, people will follow other people blindly. Even if shots are fired, some people will spook and run for cover but others will stand there with no idea of what to do. They will stand there idly until crowd movement happens. This movement will become a surge as many people move together. 

Big crowds will push, press, and if they are trying to hurt you, it is very bad news. Emotions spread like wild fire in a big crowd. Think of being at a concert. When the opening band comes on, some people will cheer but when the main band takes the stage, people erupt into good feelings. The same thing happens in big crowds on the streets, except many times anger is the emotion that rules the day. It will grow and escalate very quickly. Crowds do not split. They move together, even at the detriment of individuals in the group. Crowds seeking safety will press into small spaces and crush those that were first in as everyone tries to cram in together.

Individuals in crowds often think there is no accountability for their actions they partake in while in the crowd. They may often do things they wouldn't normally do thinking that no one will single them out for their actions. The crowd may even be cheering on those inappropriate behaviors, making the individual feel good about the activity they are performing.


Now-a-days it is very difficult to not get caught for your actions in a crowd. There are cameras everywhere. Facial recognition technology can easily pick out and identify individuals in a crowd. Many people want to share their activities and post everything on social media. Police officers can use this technology to find individuals who partook in unlawful activities and bring them to justice.

If you are part of a crowd that starts acting violently, step away! Do not participate in the activities. Once violence starts, it escalates and then the police must counter the activity. If a crowd becomes violent, it is time to leave!

It is a very different scenario if the military or the police handle the crowd control. The military are mean. Law enforcement will try to be nice. Their main technique for dispersing a crowd is making it move. When people are forced to move around, they become tired and will disperse. One of the favorite tactics of the military is to use tanks to control a crowd. The M1 Abrams has a jet engine on it and the exhaust is very hot. You will move if it is pointed at you. Tanks are big and intimidating. If you lay in front of it in protest, they can's see you and will crush you. The gun is also very intimidating. When a tank moves, it rattles the earth. If you don't move it will turn you into a "crunchy."

If the crowd goes crazy and you decide to play dead you are taking a very big risk. It may  be a useful tactic if you are on the edge of the crowd otherwise you may get trampled and crushed. If there is a shooter, playing dead is like playing a game of hide and seek but if you get found, you're dead. Eventually, you will get found out, hopefully it is by the police and not the crowd or a shooter. It is a risky game and standing up for yourself would be a much better way to go out if you are faced with that. 

If things get really bad and you are scared for your life, run at a police officer. You may get beat upon a little and you will probably be cuffed but you will be protected. The police officer will make sure you are safe. If he goes for cover, he will take you with him. 

Groups of seven is the best size to navigate in a crowd. You can stay close to your group members. You have enough people to move through the crowd but not so many that you get noticed. Bigger groups can get spit by the crowd. The group spends too much time keeping together. If you have a big group, split into teams of about seven and exit the crowd. If a large group tries to move together, it will get noticed by the crowd and the crowd will surge with the group. These groups of seven are often used by law enforcement for retrieval of individuals in the crowd. They can swoop in and remove instigators from the crowd. With the rowdy individuals removed, the crowd will calm.

Keep in mind that there are professional crowd agitators. These types of individuals are not a new construct. The union used to employ instigators and send them from town to town stirring up the crowds. However, now-a-days some individuals are paid based on the level of violence they can incite. You have to understand that you may be at a rally next to someone that is being paid to create problems. They may be screaming for violence and you may be enticed to join in. Keep your wits about you and think for yourself. Only participate in lawful demonstrations or celebrations. 

All commercial buildings in the United States have rear doors. If the crowd turns violent, go into a building and use the back door. In these types of extreme circumstances, don't adhere to societal norms. You may feel awkward walking through a kitchen or going through a door that says it will trigger an alarm but you life and that of your family may be on the line. Don't worry about your vehicle. Get to safety! Walk away from the crowd and call an Uber. Your vehicle, your pride, adhering to societal norms, none of these are worth your life or that of your family. You have insurance for your vehicle. Retrieve it later.

Be prepared if you are going to be in a big crowd. Try to stay on the outside of the crowd. Look for a way out as soon as you arrive. Know your escape routes. Remember where your car is. Have the Uber app preloaded. Wear shoes you can move and run in: no sandals or high heels. Wear rugged pants and a long sleeve shirt. If you get knocked down, you don't want to be in shorts and a little shirt that leaves your skin vulnerable. Don't ever be between the police and the crowd. When police want to move a crowd, they will use rubber bullets, bean bag guns, etc. The military have foam and wooden batons they can shoot. You don't want them aiming at you. 

There are signs you should look for to let you know that things are about to go wrong. If one stone is thrown, more are likely to follow. If one fire starts, more are likely to follow. If you start hearing multiple people calling for violence or saying things like "f" the police or "no justice, no peace," violence is likely to follow.


Pay attention to what law enforcement is doing. If they are all standing around chatting, all is good. However, if they are forming up and getting organized, they are going to do something. If you hear them say over a loud speaker, "This is an illegal demonstration. Disperse now or force will be used," it is time to go. Good police departments will use a lot of force right out of the gate and then it will lessen. Rag tag, unorganized police departments will start slow and the violence will escalate. This creates a two-sided clash. Nobody will use restraint against the violence and medical teams will not come to assist anyone. These unorganized law enforcement teams will start to display the same type of "mob mentality" as people get hurt or killed. The less confidence and training a law enforcement team has the worse it will be. You can tell unorganized law enforcement teams because they will all be in different uniforms with different equipment. Well trained law enforcement teams will have uniformity in their attire and gear.


It is important to live life and support the issues you are passionate about. However, crowds can turn very dangerous, very quickly. Have an escape plan! 

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Dark Days in Denver Ch 17

Ben Branam

"I’ve loved shooting since the first time I pulled a trigger at age 8. During high school I volunteered at my local PD where I learned more about handguns. I joined the Marine Corps Infantry after high school. I was a reserve for 10 years with 2 years of active duty and 1 tour in Iraq in 2003. I worked for an armored car company for almost 7 years mostly in the LA area of California. During all that I also got a degree in law enforcement and went through two different police academies. Being a cop never worked out, but through it all I’ve always been training people to fight. I spent all of 2008 in Iraq again as a private contractor defending a base. There I got to teach and train with the US Army and others. Now I want to bring that experience and my joy of teaching to others. I love teaching firearms and want the good people of the world to be able to defend themselves. It’s now my mission and purpose in life.." -Ben Branam

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