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Street Tactics Exercise

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We’ve been running these exercises as a kind of extended, stop-and-start role play, letting the group practice each tactic, periodically changing the police and the people in front. You can do all or some of them, depending on time. They help the group to learn to function as a group, give some strong, nonviolent alternatives to simply fighting the cops and running, and are fun and useful.

A solid line of police with nightsticks of rolled newspaper:

A crowd of protestors:

“Protestors standing, police advance with batons held in both hands to push crowd back. Note how easy it is to move a standing crowd.

“Protestors standing, police advance, crowd sits down. Don’t hit yet: note how much harder it is to move a group of people sitting.

“Amoeba: Protestors sitting, police advance, attack one person. Crowd absorbs the intended victim, by people behind grabbing and pulling, people on the sides grabbing victim’s arms, pulling back and squeezing in. Practice several times.

“Calling attention: Practice the amoeba, this time with other protestors calling the attention of the media by pointing. Possibly add Oming if it seems appropriate to the group. Protestors in back in safe zone can run and get media.

“Getting hit on the head lessons: Demonstrate protective position: curled up to protect stomach, hands in fists behind back of neck, face tucked down, if lying on the ground, on left side in fetal position.

“Puppy pile: Protestors sitting, police attack one person, neighbor throws herself on top, forming a bridge with hands and knees, others pile on top, attempting to protect their own stomachs, etc. make the following points: Person on the bottom must curl up and make themselves small.

Second person must form a bridge, brace some of the weight.

Don’t make so huge a pile you crush the people on the bottom.

Often most useful in jail situations to prevent people from being singled out and taken away.

“Swarm: Protestors standing, police attack media person, crowd swarms around to absorb the intended victim. Practice several times.

“Street negotiations with cops—discuss this possibility and make sure you frame it as a political decision the group should make. Point out safest place for negotiator to be (in the middle of the crowd, at least to start), why you might decide to do this (buy time, etc.), and underline that negotiator is a spokes for the
group, NOT empowered to make decisions for the group.

“Regrouping: Protestors standing, police scatter the crowd, they run behind and
call others to regroup by:

Drumming, or
Whistle, or
Rhythmic clapping, songs