The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The World of Iniquus - Action Adventure Romance

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

HOSTILE CROWDS – Would Your Character Know What to Do? with Terrorist Specialist Rock Higgins


Demonstrations and riots, Paris, France (place...
Photograph by Mikael Marguerie, see Flickr file
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This guest post is from ThrillWriting's good friend Rock Higgins.
Rock is an Executive Protection Operator (Bodyguard) he works a 7 day on 7 day off rotation for an international businessman and his family. As he oversees 20 guys, it's pretty busy as Rock travels worldwide.

Rock is a Certified Anti-Terrorism Specialist.

He trains businesses in anti-terrorism procedures. he 
also teaches civilians, law
enforcement, military and bodyguards in close
quarter combat and now, of course, he writes.

Fiona - 
So Rock, I was just reading and Alafaire Burke novel where her hero was caught in a riot situation. It was an awesome way to develop the plot. Can you give my heroine some pointers for survival? 

Rock - 
Demonstrations are popular these days. At some point, somewhere, there will be someone demonstrating.

Most demonstrations are peaceful, while others are not. Even peaceful protests can turn dangerous. 

Perhaps your character is attending a demonstration and those who would prefer a more militant form of protest infiltrated the crowd. 

Perhaps your character is in an area where a peaceful demonstration turns into a riot then she must be able to respond and not become a victim of either the rioters or law enforcement.

To start with, here are a couple of fundamental questions:
* Did your heroine check with LE in her
  local area or the areas she is travelling to
  check on demonstrations of whatever
* Does she know her local area like the
   back of her hand, but what about the
   areas she regularly visit, or on a one-off
* How quickly on arrival does she 
   familiarise herself with the area?

Hostile Crowd

Armenian Presidential Elections 2008 Protest D...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No need to explain the definition, the name says
 it all. There are though different types of crowds. Knowing how the crowd developed is an important factor.
Here is just a short list:
* Protest marches
* Static Demonstrations
   (picket lines)
* Football (soccer) Matches
* Sales Queue
* Funerals
* Stag Parties
* Music Events
* Counter Demonstrations
* Fox Hunts
* Mostly anywhere that there are bars, nightclubs and alcohol

This list shows you that these types of events occur mostly outside and mainly in an urban setting but can also happen in rural settings. Demonstrations can also happen indoors. Static demonstrations, for example, where groups occupy buildings, often turn violent when security evicts the protesters.

Demonstrations and riots, Paris, France (place...
 Photograph by Mikael Marguerie, see Flickr file (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For anyone caught in a hostile crowd situation, the main aim is to vacate the area as soon as possible. In order to leave safely, your heroine might have to wait for a clear opportunity. In some cases, waiting is too dangerous, and the only solution is to go through the crowd.

Anyone can become a target in a hostile crowd situation - civilian, executive protection operator, military and law enforcement personnel. Whether on foot, or in vehicles, bad luck or bad planning can land your heroine in a life-threatening situation.

* Tip – If your heroine are in a vehicle, keep all the windows up 
   and locked. 

* If your heroine is on foot, then  she should walk NOT run.
   Running attracts attention from both rioters and LE. Remember
   that during riots there are no rules. Rebels have killed, raped,
   beaten and robbed. The less attention she can bring to herself the

* Parents who have children must act like a close-protection team 
   in this situation. The team would give all round body cover and
   walk through the crowd to the recognised point of safety.

* If as a parent, there is one child who is small enough to be
   carried, then the mother should carry the child. The father will
   cover both mother and child. He will defend them if attacked. 
   Others suggest that the father should bear the child because he is
   stronger. That is wrong, unless the mother is more combat
   effective than the father is.

* If your heroine is protecting two children, then if possible the
   mother should carry one and the father the other. If an older child
   is present, the parents should be covering all with the older child 
   in the front. Remember, it is even more imperative to have 360-
   degree awareness in these situations. Break down movement into
    bounds (Move from one protected spot to the next)

* Teamwork is all-important here.

* If your heroine is in a location where she can carry a concealed 
    firearm as a civilian, she should not have her weapon free. LE is
    not going to take chances upon seeing it. Have her hand on her 
    weapon if the situation warrants it, but she should not have it 
    presented unless she has to use it.

Protesters clash with riot police on November ...
Protesters clash with riot police on November 7, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

* Buildings in proximity to
   the riot are not safe. 
   These will no doubt be
   broken into and looted.
   Moving to higher floors in
   the building is not a good 
   idea as the risk from fire 
   and smoke from the 
   ground floor can cut off
   any escape and be deadly.
   If your heroine needs to 
   use buildings in proximity, then use them to get to further buildings. Look for fire exits at the rear of 
  the building, or windows that she can smash, to put distance
  between her and the rioters.

* One thing your heroine should not do is walk towards the police
   line. If there are officers nearby, then seek help. However, 
   remember, rioters and looters will want to take on the police, and
    she will be between both.

Friendly Crowd

Now I know you are asking yourself, “How can friendly crowd be dangerous?” Unfortunately, they can be quite risky and more so because the expectation was that the environment was safe.

Think of a crowd of screaming fans of the pop group, film star, or other celebrity. They are pushing, crushing, or running to get to their idols. Because fans do not expect violence, it can be a traumatic and sometimes a deadly experience. Hysteria soon catches on: and in a sudden rush, your heroine can lose those with whom she came and end up under foot.

Events with metal barriers or fences can also cause crushing problems for those at the front as fans from behind push forward. Your heroine should plan for safety, as well as, planning for a good time.

I have seen soldiers have their weapons nearly taken from them in a hostile crowd during full-blown terrorist riots. I have been in sports stadiums accompanied by family members when football-hooligan clashes broke out. I have worked through friendly as well as hostile crowds as an executive protection operator.

It can happen to anyone.

Fiona - 
Thanks so much for sharing that information. If you're a writer trying to figure out the tactical points and mind sets of protection details - or you just need a great way to twist your plot line. I HIGHLY recommend getting yourself a copy of Rock's books. Meditations of a Modern Warrior
and Meditations of a Modern Warrior II.  Here's the LINK

***Also, Rock has very generously offered to help with specific plot line issues. You can leave them below.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


  1. Excellent article Fiona, would you mind if I shared this with my writing group (Fermanagh Writers) we're based in Northern Ireland. I think they would appreciate the depth of information you've provided above.

    Kudos on the cover by the way. It's excellent. I think it works brilliantly.

    I did attempt to nominate you but apparently I'd need to be based in the US. They won't accept nominations from the UK. At least not yet. Which is a pity. Anyway, good luck.

  2. Thank you Edward - share away, I do this as a gift to my fellow writers :)
    And thank you for your kind words and support with Weakest Lynx. I had a great time writing it.

    Cheers to you and the Fermanagh Writers!