Kristian Johansson has posted an amazing set of photos on Facebook from Cairo that seem to provide a text-book example of how not to deal with protesters. The whole set can be seen here. All images are presumed to be copyrighted to him and are replicated here in case they are taken down.
So, here’s a great lesson in HOW TO NOT HOLD A BRIDGE:
Find a bridge. Any bridge will do. This one looks nice:
Assemble your ELITE CADRE of riot police!
NOTE: You can tell they are elite by things like the empty-handed waving, as shown in the close-up below. I think what this guy is saying over his shoulder is “it’s a good thing they didn’t give us gloves – those things never fit right! and I HATE those stupid gas masks! I’m totally glad the Captain told us to leave those in the van!” These are important details, as we’ll find out.
Right about now, your people might be feeling a little under-equipped, what with the no gloves and no gasmasks. Nothing makes a nervous cop feel more confident than a gun, so this is a really good time to break out the tear-gas launchers.
Now that you’ve done the whole elite-cadre assembly thing, and you’ve armed your elite cadre with gun-like thingies as well, it’s a good idea to lose all discipline and sort of mill around like you’re at a school rally or summer music festival. It really helps set the mood for the chaos and total lack of discipline to follow.
This is also a good time to park your riot-vans very close together and facing towards where you think the protesters will be coming. This step is SUPER IMPORTANT if, say, you want those vans to be nearly impossible to move in a hurry later on. If you want to be really thorough, you could let all the air out of the tires, too. That would really help.
But don’t sweat it, you got the most important bit down with the parking and the milling around. Good work!
Now, form your defensive position at the far end of the bridge!
When forming your defensive position, it’s super important to not equip your riot police with any form of static crowd control, eg fencing. Fences are heavy, cost money, and sometimes people steal or break them and then you will have to explain to the sergeant what happened to them, fill out even more forms, and your pay might get docked. So: no pesky static barriers!
You can see in this photo (from the December 2010 London protests) that fences don’t always make good neighbors. So really, why bother?
What’s that you say? The Crowd Control Manual version 7.1 says very specifically to deploy fencing in static defensive positions? Okay, fine! Put up one piece of fencing, in the middle of a street. You can see this fencing in the next photo, at the very tippy-top of the picture. Only use the one bit though, because then it’s easy to get around, and we are, after all, trying to do the worst possible job at this as we can. Also don’t secure it to anything – that’s important for later as well.
Unfortunately placement for this bit of fence isn’t ideal, because it’s on a side-street. That means the protesters might not even find it, in which case they won’t be able to pick it up and use it to bash you on the head, and you won’t be able to argue over it as you can see the protesters in the London photo doing. But you haven’t had to fail, badly, in contending with riots in many years, you can be expected to get a few things wrong.
When the protesters finally arrive, you should launch some tear gas at them, and also break ranks. Nothing says “things are about to go completely pear-shaped” like tear gas and a bunch of panicky cops running back and forth.
Here’s where your lack of gas-masks and gloves will really pay off! Some of the protesters will pick up those burning hot tear-gas grenades and actually throw them back at you.
Guess what? When those burning grenades land, you won’t be able to pick them up and throw them back, because nobody is wearing gloves, and they are hot! Ouch! Did we mention the no-gas-masks thing already? Yeah we did. Okay, so now, you’re getting tear-gassed by your own tear gas, and you don’t have gas-masks nor gloves… xlnt!
Right about now is an excellent time for your morale to break. Yep, it’s time to panic, and run away!
Now you can haphazardly form up a NEW DEFENSIVE LINE! This one will be especially ineffective because you’ve totally lost control, your people are terrified, you have no barriers, and things happened so fast that you left the vans behind! Oooops!
Once the protesters arrive at your vans, they will first climb all over them. Then they will try to destroy them. Fortunately, as you can see in the picture, they brought along that piece of fence you left out for them, which they can use to smash the van! That’s really quite nice of you. Good work!
What’s that? There’s something missing in this next picture? Why yes, there is. Two vans, in fact. That’s because eventually, someone will come up with the clever idea of actually stealing your vans and they will proceed to driving off with two of them. This is, really, outdoing yourselves in fucking things up. Hopefully you left some tear-gas grenades, launchers and the like inside them, so the protesters will have those things the next time they get all protesty!
This is a good time for your riot police to completely panic and abandon all sense of order. This has become a full-scale rout. The protesters own the bridge! You lost it! Good work!
But really, we’re not quite done, because guess what? Yep, you guessed it. You left the vans on the bridge, so it means all of your riot police actually have to WALK home, whilst being taunted and otherwise harrassed the entire way.
So: there you have it. A lesson in how not to hold a bridge!