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The Safest Place During Martial Law

Wow, it has been a crazy year or two.  It feels like there have been ongoing demonstrations sometimes turning into riots for over a year.  While I fully support peaceful demonstrations and the constitutional right to assembly, there are always a few people that exploit the situation and try to turn the gathering into a riot.  This typically ends in fires, vandalism, violence, looting, and large groups of angry people.  Unfortunately, the only way to end this anarchy is sometimes with police or military action like martial law.  So where is the safest place during martial law?

I first started writing about martial law six or seven years ago.  Since then, most people I talk to have dismissed the threat of a military lockdown.  Then when Covid hit I started getting vocal about this concern again.  Still, people said there was no way that the national guard would be sent out to control the situation.  

Then it happened.  Between the covid quarantine and the outrage felt from the murder of George Floyd, a form of martial law was declared across much of the country.  The national guard was sent out to most major cities to enforce curfews and control violence.  Even smaller towns that did not warrant a military presence still sent out police in riot gear by the dozens. I started getting texts and phone calls asking for the safest place during martial law.

We watched cities like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia get consumed by riots.  Many of these cities sustained millions of dollars in damage and will never be the same.  The sad part is that the people hurt most by this damage were the mom-and-pop local business owners that often cannot afford to rebuild.

In this article, we will cover how martial law works.  We will also discuss the safest place during martial law.

What is Martial Law?

Martial law is declared by the government when the local police cannot control violence in a particular area.  This allows the government to send troops from the National Guard to help with the situation.  Martial law was most recently used to help control the riots last year. However, there are many other reasons why martial law can be declared.  

During World War II, martial law was declared in many areas to round up and question people of Japanese descent living in the US.  Martial law was declared during hurricane Katrina both because of looting and also because there were so many people still living in the floodwaters.  Often a form of martial law is declared if a city is hit by a bad earthquake or a tornado so that the National Guard can bring supplies and restore infrastructure while controlling crime as well.

So… What’s the Problem?

This all seems great, right?  The government can send in the National Guard to stop violence, end property destruction, bring supplies, and restore infrastructure.  So, what’s the big deal? Why do I need to know the safest place during martial law?

The scary part about martial law is that your constitutional rights are taken away in an effort to restore order in your area.  In the last year we have seen people ordered back into their homes at gunpoint, businesses shut down against the wishes of the owner, and people beaten just for being out after curfew.  This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dangers of martial law.

One of the scariest scenarios with martial law is the possibility of being sent to a work camp.  This is definitely not the safest place during martial law.  Work camps have been used in countless situations throughout modern history to completely control a population.  The way it normally starts is that people are forced to stay home and businesses are shut down, just like what happened last year.  Then, when people cannot afford to feed themselves, they are offered help in the form of a work camp.

In this scenario, people would gather at a large building like a stadium.  They would have a bed there and would be given food, clothing, toiletries, and drinking water.  In exchange, they would do work either at the facility or anywhere else free labor is needed. It is socialism in one of its purest forms. This would start as being voluntary, but soon the government would be filling busses will people from every neighborhood.

During World War II, Japanese Americans were sent to work camps where they were stripped of their rights and treated as prisoners or traitors.  They were questioned and often tortured in an effort to find spies amongst the population.  Violence was used frequently.  Illness and disease were common because of poor hygiene and tight quarters. You might say that we have come a long way since then, but there are still hundreds of these facilities in the US built just in case we ever need them.  

The other scenario that is regularly discussed is the potential for the government to attempt to disarm civilians.  This means that any firearm would be confiscated in an effort to control violent crime and prevent citizens from overthrowing the government.  There have been plenty of times when a population was disarmed, and typically it ends with complete government control. This is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany and part of what started the American Revolution.  Staying home may also not be the safest place during martial law.

The Safest Place During Martial Law

The easiest way to survive martial law is to never be a part of it.  This is a fairly difficult task to accomplish, but it can be done.  Remember that martial law must be ramped up.  They will first prioritize the areas with the most violence and property damage.  Then they will cover the big cities and eventually move into more rural areas.  

If you pay attention to current events and what is happening in both the world and in your community, you can see the signs that martial law is coming.  Any time that it appears that the local police cannot control violence, it is just a matter of time before the National Guard rolls in.  If things are getting bad where you live, you have the option of leaving the area for a while. This would be the safest place to be during martial law.  

Just remember that this is all temporary.  Often martial law is only used for a few weeks to get the situation under control.  However, you cannot assume that is always the case.  You can stay with family or friends if they live in the country.  You can stay in a hotel or even camp out at a campsite if needed. The government cannot take away your rights if they never even come in contact with you.

If things are just starting to get crazy where you live, try to stay away from protests or demonstrations.  If you want to be involved, I understand.  However, it is not the safest course of action.  Try to avoid conflict and stay home until you come up with a plan. When the time comes, staying away from your home and outside of population centers is the safest place during martial law.

Tips to Survive Martial Law

Here are a few actions that you can take to get through martial law as easily as possible:

Be the ‘Grey Man’ – Many people in the survival world know that this term means to blend in with your surroundings.  You do not want to bring any attention to yourself through your appearance, actions, or words.  Do not speak to or make eye contact with anyone.  Whether you are trying to get through a rioting crowd or you are trying to get through military personnel, just keep your head down and keep moving.  Never draw a weapon unless your life is in danger.

Never Panic – When chaos erupts and the military moves in, you must remain calm.  Panicking is part of the reason that peaceful demonstrations turn into riots.  Assess your situation and come up with a plan to get to safety.

Don’t Trap Yourself – You likely will have rioters that aim to do harm and military that aim to control them both potentially being a risk to you. Avoid bottlenecks where the landscape naturally forces you into a narrow area.  Not only does a bottleneck make it easier to be attacked or arrested, but it is also the most likely place to fall and be trampled by the crowd.

Stay Neutral – Never take the side of the military or the rioters.  That just gives half of the people involved a reason to target you.

Never Run to Authority – In most situations we are taught to run to the police or the military if we are in trouble.  In this case, you cannot trust anyone, so you need to avoid authority figures.  Keep your distance.

Get to Safety and Stay There – If you are in a vehicle or have one nearby, get there and stay in your vehicle.  You can try to move to a safer area or stay parked.  Either way, you are safer inside. Never drive towards the military or police as they could see this as a threat.  Get home and stay home if possible.  People in the streets will be rounded up long before the military goes knocking on doors.

Avoid the Grid –  It is entirely possible that the government could use social media, credit card purchases, text messages, and emails to target individuals.  Get to an ATM quickly and get as much cash as you can so you do not need to use credit cards.  Buy a burner phone or use two-way radios for communication.  

Have a Bug Out Plan – Even if you make it home safely, you are not out of the woods.  If the situation continues to get worse, the military could start going door to door.  In certain cities, they were marching through residential neighborhoods with automatic weapons.  We were probably just one or two steps away from home searches. You cannot defend your home against the military or against large crowds of rioters.  Be ready to head to your bug-out location if needed. This is the safest place to be during martial law.


Final Thoughts

The only way to know that you will be safe under martial law is to have a plan and be ready.  You need to discuss this thoroughly with your family, so everyone knows what to do.  There should be a plan to get to a vehicle and eventually get home safely.  Then from there, everyone needs to be ready to bug out at a moment’s notice.  Martial law scenarios never go quite as planned, but the plan will help you stay calm and organized.  This will give you a clear head so you can get your family to the safest place during martial law.

2 thoughts on “The Safest Place During Martial Law”

  1. In my little town, the state police were called in once to prevent a riot over a statue that represented soldiers of all wars. This was after the George Floyd event. Someone said it was for confederate soldiers which all they had to do was read the inscription on the statue and it would tell what it represented. So there was some anger and facing off over this. The state police came in from all over the area and assembled downtown to prevent a riot. The Mayor who is a black woman said that it would go on the Presidential ballot and the voters would decide if it would go or stay. It stayed. I haven’t heard any more about it. This is a small town and you would think it would be safe from big city trouble. Wars can start from false information and there are lots of people who will not try to find out the truth. I live out in the country and know the escape routes out of my area. For this situation cooler heads prevailed as they say. There has been a lot of money spent on the downtown area and many beautiful shops are there. It would have been terrible if the area had been destroyed over false information.

  2. Dave,

    You’ve got martial law kind of mixed up. When the National Guard is activated to assist with a riot or similar disturbance, they work under the command of the local police. Any and all arrests they might make are turned over to the civilian police, and those suspects appear before regular civilian judges. Constitutional Rights must be respected. In fact, civilian police officers are usually assigned to work directly with Guard units to advise them on the law.

    True martial law usually involves active duty military units who have been assigned under the Insurrection Act to perform police duties, sometimes under the command of the local civilian police, sometimes not (see the 1992 LA Rodney King Verdict riots where active duty Marine and Army units were sent to LA under the Insurrection Act). They worked under the command of the LAPD or any other city PD they might have deployed in. In 1967, Army paratrooper units were sent to assist the Detroit PD during the riots there. They worked for DPD and mostly guarded government facilities, and controlled major traffic intersections (I lived in Detroit then). Nobody messed with the paratroopers, most of whom were Vietnam vets. In my experience, they were very polite and civil towards everyone they dealt with. It was the DPD and National Guard who you had to watch out for.

    Under true Martial Law, active duty units (and any National Guard units federally activated to work with them) perform law enforcement duties under their own command structure. This could include holding prisoners, and possibly conducting military court trials by military officers. However, if civilian courts are still functional, they must be used instead of military courts. If civilian courts are not functional at first, as soon as they become so, they must be used.

    It is very unlikely federal troops will just barge into homes without a good reason, and they may be required to obtain a search warrant first, especially if the civilian courts are still functioning. It depends on the exact situation at the time. same as with civilian police.

    I was an active duty Marine MP and we were trained in the law regarding Martial Law. Marines and Navy do not come under the Posse Comitatus Act by law. Only the Army and Air Force do. However, by Department of the Navy policy, the Corps and Navy follow the Act as a general rule.

    I was also an Air National Guard Security Policeman. We were also trained in Martial Law. Most Air Force and Air Guard Security Forces will remain on their bases to protect the facility and resources. They have full law enforcement authority on base anyway.

    I was a municipal police officer and we were also given some training in Martial Law, but we also knew that civilian police would likely be in-charge of most incidents where any military was also involved, as with LA and Detroit and some other cities.


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