Direct Action Guide by thepeopleareamerica


									                                                          COMMON OBJECTIONS
      Direct action has a rich heritage here
  in North America, extending back to the
     Boston Tea Party and beyond. Despite

                                                          TO DIRECT ACTION
  this, there are many misunderstandings
about it, in part due to the ways it has been                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Direct action, simply put, means cutting
   misrepresented in the corporate media.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       out the middleman—solving problems your-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                self rather than petitioning the authorities or
Direct action is terrorism.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     relying on external institutions. Any action
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                that sidesteps regulations and representation
    Terrorism is calculated to intimidate and thus paralyze others. Nearly all direct action,
on the other hand, is intended to inspire and thus motivate others by demonstrating the         Direct action is practiced only by                                                                                                                                                                                              to accomplish goals directly is direct action.
power people have to accomplish goals themselves. While terrorism is the domain of a
specialized class that seeks power for itself alone, direct action demonstrates tactics oth-
                                                                                                privileged young people/uncivilized                                                                                                                                                                                                In a society in which political power, eco-
ers can take up themselves, empowering people to take control of their own lives.               poor people/adventurist lunatics/etc.                                                                                                                                                                                           nomic capital, and social control are central-

Direct action is violent.
                                                                                                    In fact, direct action is and long has been practiced in a variety of forms by peo-                              A Civilian’s Guide to                                                                                      ized in the hands of an elite, certain forms
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                of direct action are discouraged, to say the

                                                                                                ple of all walks of life. The only possible exception to this would be members of the
                                                                                                wealthiest and most powerful classes, who have no need to practice any kind of illegal                                                                                                                                          least. These forms are of particular interest
    To say that it is violent to destroy the machinery of a slaughterhouse or to break          or controversial action because, as if by coincidence, the established political channels
windows belonging to a political party that promotes war is to prioritize property over
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                to those who struggle against hierarchy and
                                                                                                are perfectly suited to their needs.
human and animal life. This objection subtly validates violence against living creatures                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        oppression.
by focusing all attention on property rights and away from more fundamental issues.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are countless scenarios in which you
Direct action may obstruct the activities or destroy the property of a corporation or           Direct action is the work of agents                                                                                                                                                                                             might want to use this kind of direct action.

institution—but if the latter is itself involved in violent activity, then such an act is not
violence but rather the prevention of violence.                                                 provocateurs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Perhaps representatives of despicable multi-
    Over the past three decades of protests, civil disobedience, and sabotage, not a sin-           This speculation is generally made from a distance, without concrete evidence. To                                                                                                                                           national corporations are invading your town
gle person in the United States has been killed or seriously injured. Thousands, howev-         allege that direct action must be the work of police agent provocateurs is disempower-                                                                                                                                          to hold a summit, and you want to participate
er, have been beaten, tear-gassed, and imprisoned. One need only reflect upon a news            ing: it rules out the possibility that activists could do such things themselves, overes-                                                                                                                                       in protests against them as more than just
report such as “Violence erupted when protesters began throwing tear gas canisters              timating the powers of police intelligence and reinforcing the illusion that the State is
back at police” to discern who holds the monopoly on violence.                                  omnipotent. Likewise, it preemptively dismisses the value of a diversity of tactics, and                                                                                                                                        another body holding a sign; perhaps they’ve
                                                                                                the reality that people are applying them. When people feel entitled to make unfounded                                                                                                                                          been there a long time, operating franchises
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What It Is, What It’s Good For, How It Works
Direct action is not political expression,                                                      claims that every tactic of which they disapprove is a police provocation, this obstructs
                                                                                                the very possibility of constructive dialogue about which tactics are most e¤ective.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                that exploit workers and ravage the environ-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ment, and you want to draw attention to or
but criminal activity.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          hinder their misdeeds; perhaps you want to
    Unfortunately, whether or not an action is illegal is a poor measure of whether             Direct action is dangerous and can                                                                                                                                                                                              organize a festive, community-oriented event
or not it is just. The Jim Crow laws were, after all, laws. To object to an action on the
grounds that it is illegal is to sidestep the more important question of whether or not it      have negative repercussions for others.                                                                                                                                                                                         such as a street party. Direct action can plant a
is the right thing to do. To argue that we must always obey laws, even when we consider             Direct action can be dangerous in a repressive political climate, and it is impor-                                                                                                                                          public garden in an abandoned lot or defend it
them to be unethical or to enforce unethical conditions, is to suggest that the arbitrary       tant that those who practice it make every e¤ort not to endanger others. This is not                                                                                                                                            by paralyzing bulldozers; it can be used to oc-
pronouncements of the legal establishment possess a higher moral authority than our             necessarily an objection to it, however—on the contrary, when it becomes dangerous                                                                                                                                              cupy empty buildings to house the homeless
own consciences, and to demand complicity in the face of injustice. When laws protect           to act outside established political channels, it becomes all the more important to do
injustice, illegal activity is no vice, and law-abiding docility is no virtue.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                or to shut down government oªces. Whether
                                                                                                so. Authorities may use direct actions as excuses to terrorize innocents, as Hitler did
                                                                                                when the Reichstag burned, but those in power are the ones who must answer for the                                                                                                                                              you’re acting in secret with a trusted friend or
Direct action is unnecessary where                                                              injustices they commit in so doing, not those who oppose them.
                                                                                                    Likewise, though people who practice direct action may indeed run risks, in the face of an
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in a mass action with thousands of others, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                basic elements are the same.
people have freedom of speech.                                                                  insu¤erable injustice it can be more dangerous and irresponsible to leave it uncontested.
   In a society dominated by an increasingly narrowly focused corporate media, it can
be almost impossible to initiate a public dialogue on a subject unless something oc-            Direct action never accomplishes
curs that brings attention to it. Under such conditions, direct action can be a means of
                                                                                                anything.                                                                                        First of All . . .
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             DIRECT ACTION IN A NUTSHELL:
nurturing free speech, not squelching it. Likewise, when people who would otherwise
oppose an injustice have accepted that it is inevitable, it is not enough simply to talk            Every e¤ective political movement throughout history, from the struggle for the eight
about it: one must demonstrate that it is possible to do something about it.                    hour workday to the fight for women’s su¤rage, has used some form of direct action.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Choose a project and devise a plan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
                                                                                                Direct action can complement other forms of political activity in a variety of ways. If noth-
Direct action is alienating.                                                                    ing else, it highlights the necessity for institutional reforms, giving those who push for
                                                                                                them more bargaining chips; but it can go beyond this supporting role to suggest the pos-
                                                                                                                                                                                                     If it makes sense for your action to be organ-
                                                                                                                                                                                                 ized openly, establish a format, such as a public
    On the contrary, many people who find traditional party politics alienating are in-         sibility of an entirely di¤erent organization of human life, in which power is distributed       spokescouncil, in which to work out a strategy and
spired and motivated by direct action. Di¤erent people find di¤erent approaches fulfill-        equally and all people have an equal and direct say in all matters that a¤ect them.              tactics. Invite friends, or circulate fliers, or go door to
ing; a movement that is to be broad-based must include a wide range of options.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 door announcing it. Have a proposal in mind ahead                   demonstrate a model others can apply, to be a learn-       by one, or aªnity group by aªnity group, so those who
    Sometimes people who share the goals of those who practice direct action while
                                                                                                                                                                                                 of time, in case no one else does.                                  ing and bonding experience for those involved?             decide against participating will not know anything about
objecting to their means spend all their energy decrying an action that has been carried
out. In doing so, they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory: they would do better to                                                                                                               For more clandestine actions, brainstorm in a                        Establishing the goals of the action from the out-    the others involved; likewise, ask general questions at
seize the opportunity to focus all attention on the issues raised by the action.                                                                                                                 secure environment with a trusted friend or two.                     set will save a lot of headaches later, when your plans   first, and don’t reveal critical details of the plan such as
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Keep your ideas to yourselves as you hash them out                   shift and potential conflicts arise.                      exact target or date until a person is ready to make a com-
                                                                                                                                                                                                 so you won’t have already given them away when                                                                                 mitment. As people are brought into a plan and go on to
People who practice direct action                                                                                                                                                                you’re ready to try them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Structure                                                bring in others, make sure everyone has the same idea of
should work through the established                                                                                                                                                                  Brainstorming can start with a problem you
                                                                                                                                                                                                 want to solve, or a social contribution you want
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                how cautiously this should be done.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As more people become involved in the project, it’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Affinity Groups:
political channels instead.                                                                                                                                                                      to make; it can be informed by the resources you
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Work tightly with those you know
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                also important that everyone understands how much
   Many people who practice direct action also work within the system. A commitment to                                                                                                           have, the kind of experience you desire, or the peo-                                                                           commitment is called for. Sometimes the group that first
making use of every institutional means of solving problems does not necessarily preclude                                                                                                        ple you want to work with. You can plot a single                            One of the most secure models for direct action    presents a plan will be more invested in it than others; if
an equal commitment to picking up where such means leave o¤. If the established chan-                                                                                                            short adventure, or a long-term campaign. Of-                           organizing is the aªnity group model. An aªnity        they do months of work preparing, only to have another
nels were themselves suªcient to address injustices, one might surmise that people would                                                                                                         ten, the best brainstorming doesn’t happen con-                          group is a group of friends who trust each other      group they depended on drop out at the last minute, all
never make the diªcult decision to work outside of them at greater risk to themselves.                                                                                                           sciously, but in the course of daydreams and in-                         deeply and share the same goals; by working to-       that work is wasted. Everyone shares the responsibility of
                                                                                                                                                                                                 formal conversations—it’s a good policy to trust                         gether over a long period of time, they become        being honest from the beginning about what others can

Direct action is exclusive.                                                                                                                                                                      that your craziest ideas can become reality and
                                                                                                                                                                                                 try them out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          eªcient and e¤ective.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             For a small action, the members of an aªnity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                expect from them. At the same time, those who initiate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                a project should be careful to share ownership of it with
   Some forms of direct action are not easy for most people to engage in, but this does                                                                                                              Even if you are attending a massive event organ-                 group can take on di¤erent roles. For a larger action,    everyone else involved.
not necessarily mean they are irresponsible or ine¤ective. Everyone has di¤erent pref-                                                                                                           ized by others, always have a plan so you can contribute to     aªnity groups can work with other aªnity groups in a
erences and capabilities, and should be free to act according to them. The important                    THE OPPOSITION                                               it in your own way.                                             “cluster,” each group playing a role. This can make de-        Dynamics:
question is how the di¤ering approaches of individuals and groups that share the same                                                                                                                                                  cision-making easier than it would be in one big mass,         Make sure power is distributed evenly
long-term goals can be integrated in such a way that they complement each other.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Goals:                                                          as each group can send a representative to discussions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                within your group
                                                                                                          For extensive information about specific direct                                                                                                        Clusters of aªnity groups can work together over long
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Establish and prioritize the goals of the action
Anonymous direct action is cowardly.                                                                    action tactics, consult Ecodefense: A Field Guide
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Who is your action “for”? Is it directed at on-the-spot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 periods, building trust and e¤ectiveness.                          Make all decisions in a participatory and consensual
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                manner. If your group is large enough to warrant it, use
    This accusation is almost always made by people who have the privilege of speak-                    to Monkeywrenching or Recipes for Disaster: An
                                                                                                                                                                                                 spectators, corporate media viewers, the owners of spe-         Recruiting:                                                    an informal or formal consensus meeting process to make
ing and acting in public without fearing repercussions: that is to say, those who have                Anarchist Cookbook. You can obtain the latter book, as                                     cific corporations, their stockholders, the police and gov-                                                                    sure all voices are heard: set an agenda for each meeting,
power in this society, and those who obediently accept their power. Should the heroes                        well as more copies of this primer, from:                                           ernment, other members of the radical community, the            Bring in other individuals and groups carefully                and pick a facilitator to keep meetings on track and an-
of the French Resistance have demonstrated their courage and accountability by acting
                                                                                                                                                                                                 participants themselves?                                            Once you have a plan to propose, figure out how many       other person to keep track of whose turn it is to speak.
against the Nazi occupation in the full light of day, thus dooming themselves to defeat?                            CrimethInc. Agents Provocateurs                                                  What is it intended to accomplish? Is it meant to com-      people you need to accomplish it. Invite only people you       The better structured your process, the more likely it is
For that matter, in a nation increasingly terrorized by police and federal surveillance
of just about everyone, is it any wonder that those who express dissent might want to                                       P.O. Box 13998                                                       municate ideas, to call attention to an injustice, to inspire   trust to keep secrets and that you are sure will want to       that everyone will participate equally.
protect their privacy while doing so?                                                                                      Salem OR 97309                                                        people, to secure resources, to set a particular tone, to in-   join in—everyone you invite who doesn’t end up partici-            Be aware of internal dynamics that may be unbalanced,
                                                                                                                                                                                                 flict crippling material damages, to provide a deterrent, to    pating is a needless security risk. Extend invitations one     such as those between people with di¤erent privilege, or
between local organizers and participants         items you throw in your trash, and the files          Find a sympathetic and trustworthy           media. You can also provide information           porting people or communicating in                timing is important, make sure everyone’s           don’t know in advance what the date of your        activities nearby, and safe zones. They can
from out of town. The more everyone par-          you have on your computer. Devise codes           lawyer, or perhaps a few of them for large       to the public yourselves by postering, pi-        stressful situations. Don’t forget to plan        watches are synchronized.                           action will be—for example, if it is to coincide   use communication systems such as cell
ticipates in planning and preparing for the       and prepare alibis as need be.                    actions; a lawyer cannot represent more          rate radio, mailing out letters, or starting      an exit strategy, either.                             Double-check to make sure everything            with the beginning of a war not yet declared.      phones, text messaging, two-way radios,
action, the more invested in its success                                                            than one defendant on the same charges.          conversations door to door.                           Because plans rarely come o¤ exactly as       is ready by your deadline; go through a                                                                or whistles to keep in touch; audio or vis-
everyone will be. A group with good in-           Legal Support:                                    You can research which lawyers have                  If your action warrants high security,        they are laid, it’s important to have backup      practice run, verbally if not physically. If        Diplomacy:                                         ual signals such as car horns or fireworks
ternal dynamics is smarter than any indi-         Prepare an infrastructure to provide              taken on similar cases in the past, or ap-       send your communiqué from a public                plans worked out for di¤erent scenarios:          participants are unfamiliar with the area,          Consider the way the action                        can also be useful. A police scanner can be
vidual can be; together the group can work                                                          proach the American Civil Liberties Un-          computer that leaves no record of who             “If ___, we’ll ___; if ___, we’ll ___.” Have      distribute maps. If need be, plant neces-                                                              used to monitor police communications.
out the best way to apply the ideas brought       support during and after the action               ion or National Lawyers Guild. If you don’t      uses it. Be aware of how the devices you          a few di¤erent objectives in mind, in case        sary materials in the area in advance of            will affect others                                     To make communication more effi-
in by individuals.                                    Everyone involved in the action should        give away anything sensitive, you can ask        use can incriminate you; for example, elec-       your ideal one turns out to be impossible.        the action; be careful not to give anything             If your action is taking place during or       cient, scouts can report to an individual or
    Make sure everyone feels supported            be aware of and prepared for the risks they       sympathetic lawyers about the charges as-        tronic cameras imprint photos with cod-           Having a basic structure for communica-           away by doing so.                                   as part of a larger event, there may be large      sub-group in the center of the action; in a
and comfortable throughout the project;           are taking and the potential criminal charg-      sociated with hypothetical acts, or specify      ing that can be used to identify the camera       tions and decision-making in place will                                                               meetings at which di¤erent groups try to           larger setting, they can phone in their find-
check in with each other outside of formal        es associated with them. It’s important not       the dates and times you may require their        that took them.                                   help you be prepared for situations that          Scouting:                                           coordinate their e¤orts; these can be useful,      ings to a central information hub, which
structures as well as inside them. Main-          to take things further than you feel ready        services—but don’t let them know any-                                                              play out di¤erently than any of the scenar-                                                           but they tend to consume a lot of time and         others can call with questions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Study the site of the action and
taining morale is a critical, though often        to go: if you get hurt or arrested or other-      thing that could implicate them: in order                                                          ios you had imagined.                                                                                 energy, so make sure you go into them know-            Just as communications equipment
overlooked, aspect of successful direct ac-       wise in trouble while engaging in a level         to do their job, they need to be able to         Groundwork                                            Be careful not to put some people at          keep up with changes                                ing exactly what you hope to accomplish.           can make you more eªcient and e¤ective,
tion organizing—keep level heads in the           of risk for which you are not emotionally         prove that they are not connected to any-                                                          risk for others’ actions; the authorities             Before the action, study the area care-             Whether you’re acting in the midst of          it also increases the risk of surveillance.
face of surprises and uncertainty.                prepared, the e¤ects can be debilitating. Far     thing illegal.
                                                                                                                                                     Planning:                                         will probably charge whomever they get            fully. Chart safe routes in and out; look for       thousands of other activists or far away from      You can use codes and code names, but
                                                  better that you get started slowly, building a        Any community whose members may              Study the context, chart a strategy,              their hands on with the worst crimes they         hiding places, obstacles, potential targets,        anyone, take into account the way your ac-         be judicious—complicated codes are easy
                                                  sustainable involvement with direct action        su¤er arrest would do well to establish          plan for different scenarios                      can, so it’s important both to get those          and surveillance cameras (including those           tions will a¤ect other people. Will your ac-       to forget, and prosecutors can argue that
The Basics                                        projects that can continue over a lifetime,       a bail fund in advance; this can save a lot                                                        who take risks out of the area safely and         in ATMs and stoplights). Note how long it           tions endanger others? Will they provoke           your codes meant something more dras-
                                                                                                                                                         Proper planning is the essence of safe,
                                                  than rush into an action, have a bad experi-      of running around in the middle of emer-                                                           to make sure serious charges can’t stick to       takes to travel key distances, and be aware         police repression? If so, will others bear the     tic than they actually did. Even if no other
Security Culture:                                 ence, and swear o¤ all such activity.             gencies. Throw benefit shows, set aside
                                                                                                                                                     e¤ective direct action. Keeping your goals
                                                                                                                                                                                                       anyone else. In some cases, you can bring         of the visibility from and of key locations.        brunt of it, and is it possible to o¤set this?     communication system is used, it can be
                                                                                                                                                     and priorities in mind along with the re-
Be intentional about how you share                    If your action may result in arrests,         infoshop profits, solicit donations from                                                           together multi-leveled groups in which            How close are the authorities, how long will        Will your actions make it more diªcult for         useful to have the option of an “abort” sig-
                                                                                                                                                     sources you have to work with, plot and
information                                       prepare a legal support structure for those       wealthy sympathizers, have your friends          compare di¤erent strategies. Weigh out            everyone knows the general goal but only          it take them to arrive? Can their approach          other people to do important work in a giv-        nal for emergencies.
    Security culture is a way to avoid un-        who participate. This could include a le-         at the university book you speaking dates        the risks and potential rewards of each:          a few know critical details such as what the      be delayed? Who else is in the area?                en community? Are there negotiations or
healthy paranoia by minimizing risks at           gal aid number for arrestees to call, legal       at their school in return for student funds;     always pick the safest way to accomplish          target is (until the last minute) or who is           While scouting, be careful not to call          reassurances that should be made to others         Dispersal:
                                                  observers to monitor and document the             make sure the bail fund stays with someone                                                         carrying out the riskiest activity.               attention to yourself or leave an obvious           before, during, or after the action?
all times. If you and your friends always                                                                                                            a given objective, and make sure you can                                                                                                                                                                   Quit while you’re ahead
conduct yourselves wisely, you’ll have little     actions of police, money for bail, lawyers        who is even-handed, trustworthy, and al-         a¤ord to take the risks you choose. It often          Be prepared for the best case scenario        record of your passing. Be sure to do at                Honor all agreements you make with
                                                  to provide immediate support to arrestees         ways easy to reach. Likewise, consider what                                                        as well as the worst. New ideas, if they are      least some of your scouting at the same             other groups; some might be willing to                 A safe escape is the most commonly
to fear from infiltration and surveillance.                                                                                                          happens that as the planning process goes
                                                  and to represent them in court, and a cir-        your media strategy will be in di¤erent sce-                                                       good ones, tend to fail because people don’t      time of day as the planned action, and if           help you, with or without knowledge of the         overlooked part of direct action organizing.
    The essence of security culture is that                                                                                                          on, a project will get more and more ambi-
                                                  cle of people prepared to o¤er emotional,         narios—whether it will be wiser to attract a                                                       take them far enough, whereas older ideas         possible do a quick check immediately be-           specific details of what you’re doing. Over        Be sure to have an exit strategy worked out
information is shared on a need-to-know                                                                                                              tious and hazardous, until some of those
                                                  financial, and logistical support through-        lot of attention and support to the case, or                                                       usually fail because they are too familiar to     fore it to make sure nothing has changed.           time, if you prove reliable and considerate,       in advance. If you’ll be in a large group, es-
basis. In some cases, the whole town will                                                                                                            involved start to have doubts; at this point,
                                                  out court cases.                                  to try to keep it under the radar.                                                                 everyone, including the authorities. Some-        If your action calls for daunting tasks,            you’ll build alliances with them.                  pecially with others who haven’t been part
need to know about your action for it to be a                                                                                                        it may be necessary to work out a safer or
                                                      The legal aid number should be open to                                                                                                           times the best results come from applying         such as climbing a steep rooftop, it may                                                               of the planning process, think about how to
success; in others, it will be crucial that the                                                                                                      scaled-down version of the plan, so it can
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                avoid the herd mentality that keeps crowds
action is never spoken of outside the circle      receive incoming calls at all times through-      Media:                                           still take place.                                 familiar tactics in entirely new settings.        be good to make an actual practice run at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             During and After
                                                  out the action; bear in mind that often you                                                                                                              Look back in time for precedents, occa-       some point.                                                                                            together after it would be better to split up.
of those directly involved. Everyone privy to                                                       Establish what coverage                              There are countless factors to take into
the action needs to share a sense of what         cannot call a cell phone from jail. It should
                                                                                                    you want and get it                              account in planning. You must pick the            sions when similar actions were attempted             Information can also be gathered from           the Action                                         Know when to press your advantage, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                when to quit—when to run as fast as you
security has been deemed appropriate, and         not incriminate the arrestees or the people                                                        most e¤ective tactics in the context of the       in similar contexts; these can be very instruc-   photos, maps, and brochures; aerial maps
                                                  who receive the calls—if part of your alibi           Long before an action, when you are                                                            tive. As you gather years of experience and       may be available on the internet. In some           Awareness:                                         can, and when to walk nonchalantly. Dis-
to respect others’ needs regarding safety.                                                                                                           current social and political situation. You
    Consent is as important in security as it     is that you don’t know each other, don’t          establishing and prioritizing goals, work        must pick the best location for the action        learn from the successes and failures of oth-     cases you can obtain information from a             Stay alert throughout the action                   card anything that could incriminate you, if
                                                  all call the same number from jail. If you        out exactly how much media coverage                                                                ers, you’ll develop skills for predicting and     tourist center, or call and ask questions on                                                           possible in a place it will not be found; wait
is in sexual intimacy; it is never acceptable                                                                                                        and take into account all its attributes; like-                                                                                                             Awareness is key to the success of any
                                                  fear you will forget the number, write it on      you want, from which sources, and how                                                              preparing for a wide variety of situations.       a pretext (as a student doing a report, for ex-                                                        to change your clothes until you’re sure
to violate another’s wishes about security                                                                                                           wise, you must pick the best date and time                                                                                                              action. Often, the atmosphere and the con-
                                                  your body in permanent marker. The per-           you are going to obtain or avoid it. This                                                                                                            ample), or even receive a guided tour. Once                                                            you’re no longer under observation.
issues. Make your own security needs ex-                                                                                                             of day. You must bear in mind the others                                                                                                                ditions that determine it can change very
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If need be, gather in a safe place after-
plicit from the beginning.                        son operating the legal aid number should         could mean composing and sending out a           who will be in the area, and how they can         Preparation:                                      you’ve collected a lot of information, it can       quickly. It is important to keep up with
                                                  know the full names of those who may be           press release (Who, What, When, Where,                                                                                                               be helpful to consolidate the important parts                                                          wards and make sure everyone is accounted
    It can be helpful for people working on                                                                                                          be expected to react—will they be sympa-          Gather equipment and                                                                                  what is going on around you, and to have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                for; collect bail money, seek outside assist-
a high security project to swear an oath of       arrested, so as to check on their status.         How, Why) or a communiqué, electing a            thetic, or will hostile vigilantes interfere                                                        into a map suited to your needs. Be careful         established in advance how you will react
                                                      To bail someone out of jail, you can ei-      spokesperson to represent your project to                                                          dress appropriately                               to dispose of all your paperwork securely.                                                             ance, write press releases. While everyone
silence together. Never violate agreements                                                                                                           with your activities? You must coordinate                                                                                                               to a given scenario. For example, is the
                                                  ther give the entire amount of the bail to the    the press, inviting corporate or independ-                                                             Once your plans are laid, draw up a                                                                                                                  involved is still around, get contact informa-
about security, no matter how much time                                                                                                              the timing of di¤erent parts of the action,                                                                                                             arrival of one police car a big deal? How
                                                  court system, in which case you will pre-         ent reporters to the action or to a press                                                          timeline until your action, counting back-        Roles:                                                                                                 tion for anyone who might be able to testify
has passed since the action. When a group                                                                                                            predicting how long each will take, and                                                                                                                 about ten? Is it common for police to tail
                                                  sumably receive it back when the legal proc-      conference, faxing announcements or                                                                wards from the big day to establish the                                                                                                                  or provide documentation to assist arrestees.
comes together to work on a project, make                                                                                                            figure out how those involved in the action                                                         Divide up responsibilities and set                  marchers in this city? While you can never
sure everyone present is vouched for by oth-      ess is finally concluded, or you can go to a      making press calls, o¤ering interviews (in       will communicate.                                 deadlines for all the pieces that must be                                                             be certain of exactly what will happen, go-
                                                  bail bondsman and pay 10% of that; in the         person or anonymously over the phone),                                                             in place.                                         up decision-making structures                                                                          Debriefing:
ers in the group as reliable and trustworthy,                                                                                                            When predicting the responses of oth-                                                                                                               ing over possible scenarios in advance and
and is willing to perjure themselves rather       latter case, the bondsman’s fees may cost         or having members of your group cover            ers—say, for example, the police—consider             Early on in the planning, work out what           Establish all the roles necessary to pull       having an idea of how your group wants             Regroup to discuss what went well
                                                  you a significant amount of money. If no          documentation themselves. If you want                                                              funding, materials, and other resources           o¤ your plan, and make sure every one of
than send their comrades to jail.                                                                                                                    the factors influencing them: Are they ex-                                                                                                              to deal with them will give everyone a more        and what lessons can be learned
    From the beginning of a project, you          one can pay bail for someone, they may sit        to avoid certain kinds of coverage, it could     pecting what you’re planning, or do you           you will need and how to obtain them. If          these is filled. Roles might include lookouts,      solid idea of how to react—and how not to
                                                  in jail until their court date, although in the   also mean assigning a participant to make                                                          security is a priority, obtain what you need      scouts, police liaisons, media spokespeople,                                                               After the action, destroy any evidence
should operate according to the highest pos-                                                                                                         have the element of surprise? If you have                                                                                                               overreact—as the situation develops.
                                                  case of minor infractions it can happen that      sure photographers do not aim their cam-                                                           in such a way that it cannot be traced to         internal (“embedded”) media, legal aid con-                                                            that could be used against you; keep tools
sible level of security it might require; you                                                                                                        the advantage of surprise, how long will it                                                                                                                 When informing others of a development,
                                                  police release people on their own recogni-       eras at those involved.                                                                            you; aªnity groups from out of town can           tacts, legal observers, medics, distractions,                                                          that could be tied to the action in a hiding
can always lower the level of caution later,                                                                                                         last? Will there be a lot of attention focused                                                                                                          announce the raw information, not the conclu-
                                                  zance so as not to have to deal with them.            If you are communicating with the me-                                                          acquire potentially incriminating materi-         “plants” (for example, people disguised as                                                             place outside your home. Get together in a
but if you start out being careless you close                                                                                                        on the event? Will it be immediately appar-                                                                                                             sions you may have drawn from it (“The police
                                                      If you are risking arrest, decide wheth-      dia, compose “talking points,” sound bites                                                         als far from the site of the action.              innocent bystanders who are ready inter-                                                               secure setting and go over what happened.
o¤ a lot of options you might later miss.                                                                                                            ent what you are doing? Will there be mid-                                                                                                              are putting on gas masks,” not “They’re going
                                                  er you want to have your identification on        that your spokesperson repeats to be sure                                                              Make sure everyone has appropriate            vene if necessary, or who will politely honk                                                           Follow up on ongoing matters, such as
    Be aware of all the ways your actions                                                                                                            dle-class citizens or reporters around, and                                                                                                             to gas us!”), so others can draw their own con-
                                                  you to expedite processing, or you want to        they get in the media coverage; give repre-                                                        clothes for the action, including di¤erent        their horns while a barricade is erected in                                                            supporting those with court cases, provid-
can be monitored or tracked: the records                                                                                                             will their presence put a damper on the au-                                                                                                             clusions. Resist the urge to panic, and the ten-
                                                  be without it, so they cannot identify you        sentatives of the press as little material to                                                      outfits in layers if necessary. Take security     front of them), getaway drivers, people to                                                             ing further clarification to the public as to
of surveillance cameras, the purchases                                                                                                               thorities’ response? What is their strategy                                                                                                             dency to get carried away as well.
                                                  immediately. A group of arrestees who             work with as possible, so you can control                                                          issues into account as they relate to cloth-      transport materials, people to receive in-                                                             the goals of and ideas behind the action,
and phone calls you make (both the num-                                                                                                              likely to be? Do their bosses want them to
                                                  refuse to give their information can tie up       what they use. Watch which reporters tend                                                          ing: if everyone is dressing in black for         formation and make tactical decisions, and                                                             and sorting out conflicts. Celebrate your
bers you dial and the things you say), the                                                                                                           come down hard on you, or to avoid provok-                                                                                                              Communications:                                    victories, o¤er each other constructive
fingerprints you leave (on the batteries in a     the legal process and sometimes gain bar-         to provide positive coverage, and approach       ing a scene? How well do they communi-            anonymity, be sure no one’s clothes have          people to carry out the actual action.
                                                  gaining power. If you need any forms of           them personally. Set up a webpage or use                                                           unique identifying features; likewise, if             In some situations, it is wise to have          Keep each other informed                           criticism, learn from your mistakes, and
flashlight as well as on the outside of it, for                                                                                                      cate, how fast do they move, where are they
                                                  medication, consider hiding them on your          an existing website; if possible, get this ad-                                                     you’re going to be posing as random pas-          understudies for important roles, in case it            During the action, scouts can keep             lay plans for the next project.
example), the places you go and the peo-                                                                                                             located and what routes will they take?
ple with whom you are seen. Be especially         person, or carry a note from a doctor ex-         dress into corporate media coverage, to re-          Don’t underestimate the challenges of         sers-by, remember that civilian dress is          turns out at the last minute that someone           track of changes in the terrain such as ar-
careful about the location of meetings, the       plaining what you need.                           route their viewers or readers to your own       simple logistical matters, such as trans-         di¤erent in Miami than it is in Seattle. If       can’t participate. This is especially true if you   riving police, crowd movements, others’

To top