This episode talks about things to do before hitting the street. If you’re a seasoned street activist, you’ll still find some interesting information in here. If you’re brand new, you’ll find some great ways to get started. And this is also a great resource to send to someone who may be coming with you to a rally or action and doesn’t know exactly how to prepare.
Here are some links that Grey from CyPurr Collective recommends checking out for more on digital security:
- Holistic Security by Tactical Tech: “A strategy manual to help human rights defenders maintain their well-being in action. The holistic approach integrates self-care, well-being, digital security, and information security into traditional security management practices.”
- Me and My Shadow by Tactical Tech: “Tactical Tech's Me and My Shadow project helps you control your data traces, see how you're being tracked, and learn more about the data industry.”
- “A Cybersecurity Expert Explains The Precautions You Should Take Before Protesting” By Kaitlyn Wylde in Bustle
- Surveillance Self Defense by the Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Attending a Protest”
- Privacy Duck: Their services provide complete personal information and record removal in rapid fashion from all possible sites and sources - including cached Google entries.
- Check out our Spotify playlist on street action, jail support, and repression.
- Live Like the World is Dying two great episodes on gear: “Paul on Body Armor” and “Gas Masks and Goggles.”
- Coffee with Comrades: “BONUS: "Skill-Share/Teach-In for Popular Uprisings”
- The Final Straw: “Resisting State Repression Panel”
CrimethInc has a variety of articles about preparing for street action. Check out:
- “Everybody Out: Resources for a Season of Post-Election Unrest”
- “Fashion Tips for the Brave”
- “Tools and Tactics in the Portland Protests”
- “How to Form an Affinity Group: The Essential Building Block of Anarchist Organization”
- “A Demonstrator’s Guide to Gas Masks and Goggles Everything You Need to Know to Protect Your Eyes and Lungs from Gas and Projectiles”
- “A Demonstrator’s Guide to Helmets Everything You Need to Know”
- “Doxcare Prevention and Aftercare for Those Targeted by Doxxing and Political Harassment”
Looking for something helpful to pass out at your group or to action participants? Check out the “Safer in the Streets” zine available on The Nib. Sprout Distro also has printable zines available. Check out the full list here. ABC’s of Protesting is a great choice to handout at protests.
News Referenced in this episode: “FBI Turns To Social Media To Find Philadelphia Woman Who Allegedly Lit 2 Police Vehicles On Fire During Civil Unrest In City” by Alexandra Hoff for CBS Philly.
Welcome to Rebel Steps! I’m your host, Liz.
2020 has been filled with inspiring street actions. The anti-police uprisings around the US have brought many new people into the streets. And it’s great to see so many new people joining the action. But many new arrivals aren’t fully prepared to deal with what can happen in the streets. And even people with some experience may find themselves unprepared for what’s happening now. I know I’ve been caught off guard this year by the way the police have escalated situations. So in this two part episode, I’ll be covering some street tactic how tos. This first part will talk about things to do before hitting the street. The second part, which will be out in a few weeks, will cover tactics once you’re in the street. If you’re a seasoned street activist, I think you’ll still find some interesting information in here. If you’re brand new, you’ll find some great ways to get started. And this is also a great resource to send to someone who may be coming with you to a rally or action and doesn’t know exactly how to prepare.
Before I jump, I do want to offer a caveat! This episode will help you out if you intend to participate in a street action. It is not intended to prepare you to plan an action. If you are planning an action, there are a slew of other things to consider. What other groups should you be working with? Are street medics available? What security concerns do you have? What are the goals of the action? And so much more. If you’re trying to plan a big action you’ll need a lot more than this short episode!
Gary: Hi, I’m Gary. And I’ve been working in the climate movement and the anti-war and anti-global domination movements for about 12 years now. And I reside out in the cascadian region in the Pacific Northwest.
Gary has experience in all sorts of actions and you’ll hear his voice throughout both episodes. He started participating in actions during the Bush years.
Gary: I grew up in a lower middle class family very, very close to a number of export terminals for fossil fuels out here. So I grew up having basically the option of going into the fossil fuel industry or joining into the military. I made the choice to go into the military and was very conservative when I was younger. And my experience in the military and the exposure that I had to other cultures through that process really changed how I saw the world and how I saw my role. And I began to get involved into different climate work because I had seen how much climate change was causing problems that were leading to more conflict. And so I began getting involved in the mid 2000s under the Bush regime, and was very politicized by a lot of street actions that happened seeing people get tear gassed and beaten up by the police who I saw as kind of these wanna be soldiers who didn’t have the training, didn’t have the professionalism that I expected of people who have guns. I’ve been involved with a lot of different struggles led mostly by indigenous communities out here because they have been the first and most impacted. And they’ve been providing a hell of a lot of leadership in this fight. We have been knocking down proposal after proposal by learning how these processes work. And when the legal fight and the paperwork fight, and the voting fight fails, that’s when direct action comes in. And out here in the Pacific Northwest, direct Action has won us many, many battles.
So let’s talk about things you can do before you’re in an action. If you’re listening to this, congrats! You’ve already started preparing and that’s awesome. Preparing for action is crucial. It will keep you safer, make your actions more effective, and potentially enable you to help those around you.
Forming an affinity group
When preparing to hit the streets, it’s a good idea to go with some friends. If participating in street action is something you do regularly, you might want to consider putting together a regular crew to go out with. This is sometimes called an affinity group.
Gary: Affinity groups are essentially the crew that you roll with. It’s nothing more complicated than that it’s people you know and trust and that you can rely on to watch your back. Generally what you want to do is surround yourself with good people and you can grow politically with those people. You can train with them you can practice with them. What you’re really looking for is three or six folks that you know and you trust, you’ve done normal things, gone out and gotten food prior to the pandemic, and you share affinity, you have love for each other and you want to support each other.
Strategically, it’s crucial to be able to trust the people you’ll be in high risk situations with. You’ll also be more effective if you’re familiar with each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and limits. And in case you end up arrested, it’s good for someone to know your full legal name and birthday and be able to look for you in the jail system.
It also can be helpful to have affinity groups working together. Small groups make it easier to be safe and effective. Gary outlined an example of this.
Gary: Let’s speak specifically to a fossil fuel battle. We’ve done actions where there are trains moving. And on those trains are material such as coal, oil. And in fact, it’s a serious threat to the community. If one of those spills over or explodes, just in the immediate sense, in a larger sense, it’s a threat because of the climatological impact. You’re dealing with, like both an immediate threat and a longer term threat. And the community may not know about it, one of the theories of change is that if more people in the community were to know about this threat, then they will do something about it. So maybe your goal in an action is to raise awareness. So when you do an action, you might have an affinity group whose job is solely to do communications, they might be tweeting, and Facebooking live or live streaming right at the action itself. You might also have some people off site, who are maybe at a coffee shop or house or something who are taking less of a risk, because they’re not physically there. But they’re helping amplify or bump up the storyline, right. And then you might have some designated media interview people. So that’s like one role an affinity group can play. Another role could be the actual blockaders themselves. Maybe there’s some folks who are willing to literally sit down on the track and to stop the train from moving. Those different groups, those affinity groups, one of the values of having them is that they can work in silos. So you have your overall mission, your overall goal that you’re trying to accomplish on the day of the action, but you might have five or six affinity groups playing different roles. And they don’t all know each other’s roles, they know that the roles are going to be taken care of, but they don’t know who’s doing it or how it’s happening or when it’s happening. And so just from a security standpoint, you’re quite protected if one person happens to say something in a coffee shop, and that gets out to the police or whatever, before the action, not everybody’s going to be at risk of that because not everybody knows what’s going on. And if any groups can do any number of tactics in like a plan to action like that, you’re trying to put people together that trust each other. And the more that you work with each other, the more you build competence in whatever the task is that you’re trying to do.
Working together this way is not only effective. It’s a way to model the type of world we’re building.
Gary: One of the goals that we have, politically, is not just to demand different political behavior at the top, but to embody the changes, the political changes, that we’re trying to make in the world, in our own actions. So when it comes to direct democratic behavior, that means that everyone in a group or an affinity group that we’re working with, we want to try to address people’s needs, we want people to feel as safe as they can. And obviously, you’re not going to be super comfortable and super safe when you’re, you know, taking direct action or you’re putting yourself at risk. But there is still a level of directly democratically communicating and saying, like, hey, if this affects you, then you should have a voice in determining what we do together collectively. There are times in action where efficiency is very important. And efficiency can overrule a long drawn out democratic discussion. So this is why again, working with affinity groups is important because if you trust these people, then you trust the intentions of the folks. And you might delegate a temporary hierarchy. You might say, for example, okay, for this action in this affinity group of four to six people, Wanda is going to be the one who calls if we have to leave because of a safety issue. And we all agree before the action, that we’re delegating that temporary power to Wanda, because we trust her. And because we think it’s in the best interest of all of us that a quick decision around safety can be made. We don’t have time necessarily to sit down and say, hey, how’s everybody feel? What are we all think? Like if the police are closing, and you might have to make a quick decision.
Another element of action preparation is scouting.
Gary: Scouting is important because you need to know what you’re getting into. You’re going to want to know a couple of things, you know, this is going to be very different depending if you’re in a city or rural area, or a forest or an ocean or a lake. But there’s some basic concepts that we can all adhere to.
In some cases, you might just do your scouting early on the day of the action or just take a look at maps and make sure you have some idea of the landscape. In other cases, you may need to visit a location multiple times.
Gary: First of all, you’re going to want to know how you’re going to get into the location and then how you’re going to get out of the location. You know, what’s your exit strategy is basically the first question. You’re looking for what can you see and what can other people see. So if you were doing an action, say in a city, if you’re on one street, you’re not going to really be able to be seen, even a block over. And that can benefit you or that can be a detriment. That may benefit you if you’re trying to get into a location without being seen. But it may be detriment if, for example, the media is trying to find you or your other friends are trying to find you or you’re trying to get out of there, you can get boxed in pretty easily. You know, if you’re on a grid system in a city, there’s only so many roads you can go to get out of a four block radius. Are you driving? Are you walking? Are you taking the bus? Those are all parts of scouting. Where’s the nearest hospital? Is their medical center? If s omebody gets injured or hurt, do we know how to get there? How far is it? Do we have a vehicle that can get somebody to those places? You want to be able to take care of your people if somebody gets injured and hurt. And as we’ve seen over the last number of months, even with the best intentions, people are getting hurt, shot at. And these things can be very high stakes. Also understanding where’s the local police forces? Is there a state patrol office? Is there a local police building other federal buildings, you know, where are reinforcements going to come from? You also want to think about access to bathrooms. Kind of funny, but if you’re going to stay somewhere for more than three hours outside, number one, you need to be hydrated. And so being hydrated means you’re going to go to the bathroom. So thinking about are there port-a-potties are there restaurants or cafes. You know, Starbucks is always a good one, you can generally get into a Starbucks and use the bathrooms. You don’t have to shop there. I’m just saying go use the bathrooms. Scouting can include things like what’s the weather on Tuesday going to be like when we do our action? Is it rainy or sunny?
Gary: If you go do scouting, if you were to enter into a building, let’s say you are going into an apartment complex, because you’re doing tenants rights, organizing, or you’re going into a university or library or something like that. You want to ask yourself before you go scout, what blends in and what doesn’t. You don’t want to walk in there wearing a Darth Vader suit, because that might draw some unwanted attention. So what are the people that live in that area that work in that area? What do they look like if you’re dressed like a punk anarchist, that might draw attention you don’t want. So maybe you want to wear a suit when you go into a upper class apartment complex. Or if you’re going as a student maybe looking like a punk actually works. But you need to ask yourself those questions and throw the morality out the window of this. You’re trying to be effective, you’re not trying to show off your social virtues, you’re trying to run an action successfully. Do what you need to do to blend in. When you’re doing scouting long groups of people as best. Bicycles are really great. If you’re in a city, you can very quickly get in and out of an area.
Scouting doesn’t just apply to street actions. If your action includes indoor spaces, scouting can be even more key.
Gary: One example that we had recently was we were trying to get into this building, they had a lock code. And we asked ourselves like what are the different ways that one could get into the building. And so we observed for a couple of hours how people got in and out. It was various ways some people had key cards, some people just radioed in for an appointment, some people were delivering grubhub and food. You know, so there was like multiple ways that you could get in and we were able to come up with a strategy to enter and to get out of the building at the end of it.
Scouting can reveal details that can be crucial to the success of an action.
Gary: Often it’s the simplest thing. It’s something you know, that we would overlook in our daily lives because you would just ask for help and someone would help you. But if you’re doing an action, you can’t necessarily ask for help.
Recently, I took part in an action where the organizers weren’t sure how to use the elevators. These elevators were the type where you had to select your floor beforehand, and then wait for the elevator bank to assign an elevator. These types of elevators are fairly common in Manhattan, but they can be confusing if you haven’t used one before. There was a bit of a delay in the lobby as participants and organizers tried to shuttle people upstairs in an organized way.
Grey: My name is Grey, he/they pronouns are fine. And I’m from a group called the CyPurr Collective, which is just a volunteer group of folks that likes to put on educational events and put out resources around cybersecurity. We’ve been doing workshops and classes in New York City for almost four years now. And we love cats.
Cyber security is important! Grey warned that each situation will be a little different, but there are still some common tips that will be helpful in any situation. Grey recommended thinking about digital security in 3 parts, before an action, during an action, and after an action
Grey: So before that’s when we kind of build our capabilities. That’s what you’re doing right now. You’re getting educated. You’re listening to this great podcast, you’re just getting understanding of how you interact with your phone how your phone can give you away. And of course you may be asking yourself the very important question of should I even bring my phone to street action at all different people have different priorities have different goals. Some people may be in a more frontline role and may feel more risk when bringing their phones. Some folks may be a more supportive role and they may in fact need to bring their phones to communicate. But making that decision beforehand so they can plan accordingly either by understanding methods of reducing harm if your phone is taken or compromised, or coming up with different means of communication with comrades or whoever beforehand.
If you are taking your phone, here are a few things Grey recommends setting up.
Grey: First and foremost, keeping a passcode on your phone is generally good advice. In a street action or a protest situation, what’s recommended is that people create a either alphanumeric passcode for their phone, so a passcode using letters and numbers, or numeric code of six digits, if not eight digits or more, because it just makes it harder for whoever wants to access your phone to actually get into your phone as opposed to doing no passcode. Or as opposed to just doing like a fingerprint passcode. Or even like the face recognition one that opens when you show your face. Even though it’s still very much a legal gray area, while police can compel you to put your finger on your phone or put your face up to your phone to unlock it, they can’t compel you to divulge your passcode. If they want to get that information, they’ll have to get it otherwise. At least they can’t get in that moment, which could be harm reduction enough. But having passcode on your phone, your phone is encrypted. So making sure that your phone is either locked or off as often as possible.
You’ll also want to use end-to-end encryption while out on the streets. Signal is the most common app activists use in the US presently.
Grey: If having to communicate with other people making sure that the apps you use are working for you as opposed to against you. Apps like Signal which are end-to-ed encrypted and very much keep privacy in mind, aren’t always the most perfect app to use, especially if you haven’t played around with it before. So I definitely recommend playing around with it first. But definitely a good way to talk with other folks in an encrypted means. Of course, there’s limits to that. But in terms of the technology, that’s the idea.
If you are going to be bringing a phone, be sure to bring a back up battery pack so you can continue to use it for communication. Also if you’re taking your phone, you should back up your entire phone in case you need to factory reset it in the aftermath of an arrest.
Grey: Why might you want to do a factory reset? Your phone gets confiscated. You don’t know who’s been on it, you don’t know what’s been done. It’s hard to prove in a given moment whether there’s any like malware potentially on your device. So sometimes for peace of mind, people recommend just factory resetting the phone after it’s been kind of confiscated, taken away, just to make sure that if there’s any unwanted remnants that were placed by police or state enemies on the phone, we can be more sure that they will not continue to be on our phone.
You may decide that bringing your personal phone is not a good idea. But you still need a way to communicate. Gary, our first interviewee says that burner phones can be a good alternative.
Gary: I generally recommend that folks go out and do some research on getting a burner phone or a couple. Very basically, a burner is a cell phone that is not directly tied to you, that you purchase and activate somewhere away from your regular phone. Not in your household, not in places that you frequent. So that it will allow you to communicate with other folks that are directly at the action without necessarily identifying yourself. This really has started in the military, in the post 9/11 era, where signals interception is the primary way that the US military overseas locates people that they believe to be insurgents or terrorists. The majority of drone strikes that have happened overseas are actually pulling together SIM cards and data on a computer screen and running an algorithm to say okay, we know that these three people are talking to each other. So that makes it likely that the fourth person in this ring is the person we’re looking for. And they’re not like somebody looking at a bad guy through binoculars. The United States government literally kills people based on algorithms and based on data processed that way. Now, obviously, in the United States, there has not yet been a drone strike. But that doesn’t mean that the federal government, the FBI, and different agencies are not collecting data. Now that data may not incriminate you at this stage. But if there were a situation where, for example, the insurrection act was utilized, or the government became more brazen, in its willingness to track people and identify people in a court of law, it could be that an action you went to five years ago, could reflect poorly upon you in a courtroom. There’s another tool that police are also utilizing with cell phones, which is known as a stingray. It essentially creates a false cell phone tower that you connect to. At that point, your cell phone is logged as a cell phone that was communicating during an action at this location. And it’s a straightforward way for the state to be able to identify you as a participant. Now, again, I want to reiterate, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing anything wrong or not. Because it’s not you that’s going to be judging whether or not it’s wrong. So protecting yourself, having good communications that are secure is a really important component of that. A number of folks get around that by not bringing their cell phones at all to actions and utilizing radios or just direct communication. Direct communication can breakdown in a chaotic situation. If you’re being tear gassed or rushed by the police, or there’s far right folks there, it may not be easy to run over to somebody and communicate what you’re doing next. You know, radios can serve as a standard. I’ve used them in a number of actions that require a bit of training to understand how to properly communicate with them. And I would encourage folks to learn about that. You need to be mindful of who you’re communicating with how you’re communicating at actions and prepare for that beforehand.
So there are lots of things you can do before an event to keep yourself secure. During the event, put your plans in place. If you’ve prepared, you should just be following your own guidelines. Afterward, it’s time to reflect. Here’s Grey again.
Grey: And finally, after the fact, this may be your time to debrief, maybe a time to kind of look at what you did good, and what you could improve on. Some things to think about. There’s this great little meme that we’d like to post on our CyPurr channels that says the right is one night, but metadata lasts forever. So being aware of what you post or how you navigate the world after the threat. I think this is more in reference to photos and videos, which I know there’s kind of like a controversial conversation, like should there be photos and media at actions and protests? I think that’s a very big conversation to have. That’s not necessarily what we’re having. Just being aware of either implicating ourselves or who you might implicate by posting a photo or videos. So just being more aware of the intentions and the potential repercussions of that.
Also after an action, you or one of your comrades may find yourself at risk of being doxed, which in the activist context usually means a far right group tries to find out everything about someone and harass them. This might happen if the police release your name to the press or if an identifiable picture of you is widely circulated. If you’re concerned about being doxxed, the best practice is to try and scrub your online presence as quickly as possible.
Grey: There are services that can help you kind of de-internet yourself, I suppose I don’t know, there’s probably a better word for that. What I like to recommend for situations like this, there’s Privacy Duck. What I like about them is that they’re very transparent about the work that they do and why they do it. They also offer prices based on situations. So whether you’re an activist in a bad situation, or whether there’s a domestic violence situation. They have discounts for those. They also kind of go over all the websites that they cover, so that you can actually just do it yourself if you have the time. Or you can pay them to do it for you in case you’re in a little pickle. So there are some great resources out there that kind of help you in the aftermath of doxxing.
Grey mentioned Privacy Duck as his preferred service. There’s also a service called delete me that offers some similar services. Since neither service is free, if you have a friend in need of their services, consider running a fundraiser for them!
Before heading out, you’ll want to make sure you and everyone in your crew has the gear they need. As with everything I’ve mentioned, this will vary from action to action. But Gary has some tips for preparing.
Gary: Yeah, grappling hooks and parasails every time if you can, if you can use it. Nah, I would, I would argue that any gear that you have, you should mentally be prepared to lose it. If you get arrested, besides like your cell phone, and maybe your keys, it’s possible or even likely as the police will keep your gear. So I’ve had a number of things never returned. And it’s a tough thing to contact the police afterwards and be like, “Hey, can I get that a tool that I had that helped me successfully do that illegal thing, please.” If you’re gonna carry things you’re gonna probably want a bag or a backpack of some kind. So have like, you know, get one of those jansport like $15, $20 backpacks and black if you can. For whatever reason, black is the color that’s been chosen by a lot of activists and so you know, having something that can blend in and if it gets taken from you, it’s not going to be the biggest thing. You know, the standard other things like again, if it’s if it’s raining, rain jacket, if it’s sunny, sunscreen. You want to have water, maybe snack bars, something that can sustain you and keep you going. Things have evolved very quickly in Seattle and Portland because of how oppressive the state response was to Black Lives Matter actions and protests. So it’s not uncommon when you go to a protest now on the West Coast to see people wearing makeshift or official body armor, helmets to protect from tear gas rounds or quotepunquote less-lethal pellet rounds and shotgun round and nine mil rounds. Also, eye protection is very important. We’ve had a number of folks across the country lose their eyes from police shooting directly into people’s heads with the quote less-lethal rounds. You know, gloves are a good idea both because they protect you from leaving fingerprints all over everything. And if you need to pick up a tear gas canister, it’s nice to not have it burn you because you’ve got gloves on.
For more details on gear, check out the episodes on body armor and on goggles and gas masks from Live Like the World is Dying, another Channel Zero Network Podcast.
If outreach is part of your goal, you also may want to bring some propaganda. That might be signs or banners. And it might be handouts for other participants or people observing the actions. One piece of information I recommend having on hand is The Nib’s Safer in the Streets zine. It covers some basic protest tips that new participants might not know. Handing these out before an action is an excellent way to invite new participants to learn about what works in the streets. Find links to Live LIke is Dying and this zine in the show notes at rebelsteps.com
How and Why to Bloc Up
Reporter: During May 30 in the escalating crowd activity that was seen that day, it could be easy for a crime like setting a police car on fire to become faceless, just a product of the environment but there was a face and a shirt and a tattoo that FBI agents took note of.
In addition to protecting yourself physically and digitally, you should consider protecting your identity. When you wear clothes and coverings that are meant to hide your identity, it’s sometimes called blocking up, as in black bloc. The normalization of masks has made it easier to bloc up, but masking up isn’t equivalent to blocking up. Blocking up means hiding any visible tattoos, covering hair color and style, wearing black or neutral clothing, and hiding anything else that might serve as an identifying feature.
Covering tattoos and hair color may sound paranoid. But there are plenty of examples that demonstrate that you really can’t be too careful.
Reporter: The federal investigation into Blumenthal’s identity began, of all places, on Instagram, where she was seen wielding a flaming piece of a barricade at a Philadelphia police cruiser on May 30. According to a criminal complaint filed this week, the woman had a peace sign tattoo on her arm and wore a blue T-shirt with the words “Keep the Immigrants, Deport the Racists.”
Court documents show that agents found that same shirt on Etsy, an online crafting marketplace and noticed a five-star rating for the shirt by a purchaser in Philadelphia. That Etsy username linked agents to another site, Poshmark, a clothing exchange platform. There, the name Lore-Elisabeth was located and a search of that name in Philadelphia took agents to LinkedIn and a local massage business. On that business’s website, agents found videos that showed an employee with what they describe as the same peace tattoo. In a statement, U.S. Attorney William McSwain said others involved in similar acts of destruction should take note. “We at the U.S. Attorney’s Office fully support the First Amendment right of the people to assemble peaceably and to petition their government,” McSwain said. “But torching a police car has nothing to do with peaceful protest or any legitimate message. Anybody who engaged in such acts can stand by to put your hands behind your back and head to federal prison. We are coming for you.”
While this example included the burning of a police car, it’s good to remember that even if you have no intention of getting involved with something illegal, you should still take care to protect yourself.
Gary: You’re not trying to get away with doing something illegal, but you’re understanding that things change, things are very fluid and they can change very quickly. So you could go into an event, thinking you’re just gonna listen to a rally and go home. And suddenly there’s a counter protest and people are throwing punches and there’s tear gas and it can escalate very quickly. And if something happens around you, if there is a shooting or if there is violence that happens. And when I say violence, I mean, like human beings hurting each other, we’re not talking about property destruction. Those are fundamentally different things. But if there’s human beings that get hurt, or hurt each other, it’s probable there’s going to be some sort of investigation. We live in a world now, where there are cameras almost everywhere. And you’ve seen this, throughout the protest this year, that anytime there’s some event that happens, you generally see something on the internet. Whether it’s someone live streaming, or the security camera, or whatever. And so in those situations, I know that I don’t want to be questioned by the police. because something happened around me. I don’t want that kind of attention. And I don’t think anybody should want that kind of attention. So even if you think that you’re not going to do anything illegal and wrong, well, it’s not in your hands, you can’t control everything that happens around you. And taking to the streets is an inherent risk that you’re taking. And it’s important to remember the point of this. The reason that we’re taking the streets is because there is injustice happening in the world. And we have a larger goal of trying to change the way that the world functions. So that less violence is done to people, less suffering is happening. And so that is why we have to take those risks. This is not to scare you away from doing that. You need to get out there. We need more and more people out there if we’re going to actually turn these things around. But we want you in this for the long haul. We want you in this a year from now and five years from now and 10 years from now. We need people to sustain themselves and do this for the long haul. And one of the things you can do is protecting yourself by dressing in a way that doesn’t attract the state’s surveillance onto you.
You also want to be ready to un-bloc, so as the action disperses, you’re not left alone looking like a blocked up anarchist. So bring bright colored accessories, a jacket, or new shirt so that you can blend in with your surroundings as things wrap up. You can layer these under your clothes so you can just remove a layer to blend in again, or you can be ready to add these to your outfit on the go. You don’t want to be a target for the police as things finish up and you’re left without the protection of a larger crowd.
Though this episode is about street action, I do want to take a moment to highlight that this is not the only way to get involved. So many people come to activism with the conception that getting into the street is the only way or the best way to contribute. And it makes sense. These actions are the only thing that make the news or trend on Twitter. But let me remind you that street actions can only be successful within a constellation of other support and in the context of other organizing. If it’s not for you, try working on jail and court support for those arrested during actions. Or get involved with tenant organizing. Or do some letter writing to those who are incarcerated. There are endless ways to contribute, and if you’re looking for ideas check out other Rebel Steps episodes to get started.
But if street action is for you, I hope that this episode has given you a few new tools to protect yourself.
Stay tuned for part two of this episode, coming out in a few weeks, for things to think about while you’re in the streets. You’ve been listening to Rebel Steps. I’m your host Liz. Believe in yourself, trust one another, and get organized.
This episode was written, edited, and produced by Amy and myself. Music for this episode was kindly gifted to us by Morgane Fouse of Lady Media Co. Ellen Siberian Tiger, Tutlie, and Sephy and also includes a few songs that I created. Special thanks to our interviewees Gary and Grey. For more resources, check out the show notes for this episode on rebelsteps.com.
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