Thursday, 2 December 2010

How to be safe when protesting.

Top work by everyone out last Tuesday. We have enjoyed reading what Chief Inspector Mark Jackson has been saying in the Evening Post. He's been waring people to "BE CAREFUL who you follow". He also said '' Just like last week, the genuine students have been well-behaved and compliant.'' By compliant he means Stopped, Kettled, Searched, Beaten, Arrested. Well we at Bristol Class War are happy not be compliant. And we are very happy to support people who feels the same.

If you were Kettled and you don't feel like being Kettle again here are some points we've taken from The Wombles ( and Indymedia (

Sticking Together
Always try to form an affinity group before setting out, and at the very least have a buddy system in place, whereby everybody has one person to look out for them and to act with when a situation arises.

Affinity groups are just a handful of people who work together as a unit, as and when circumstances arise. They can meet beforehand to discuss issues and possible reactions, practice or role play scenarios. The more your group meets, the quicker your reaction times will get and your effectiveness will improve. It also makes the classic “let’s stick together” agreement breaking up into individuals-wandering-off-at-the-first-opportunity less likely. Affinity groups can often act without the need for internal discussion - they naturally develop their own shorthand communications and can divide up skills and equipment amongst each other. Water, (bicycle) D-Locks, paint, First Aid, food, banners and spare clothes is a lot for one person to carry, but divided up between 5 people it’s nothing.

Pay attention to what you are going to wear in advance. Although not many people want to go to a protest or a demo dressed in full body armour, consider precautions that are discrete, adaptable, easy to use & discard. Thinking about these threats in advance will help:

1) Surveillance.
The purpose is to collect intelligence, evidence and to intimidate. Evidence gatherers (EVGs) will specifically focus on individuals that they can get a conviction for, whereas the more independent Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) will target people they know. Though the functions are different, all footage can be used for whatever final purpose.

The cut off sleeve of a long sleeved T-shirt (or a head-over) makes a good mask. Wear it casually aroung your neck. If you wear glasses, use a cut-off section of a short stocking (hold-ups work best as they have thick elastic) instead of a T-shirt; this prevents glasses steaming up. You can use it as a hair tie, if you are a hippy type, until you need it.

A hooded top will cover most of your face, and a baseball cap on its own provides good protection from most static cameras, which are usually mounted high up. Cameras can also be in helmets, ear-pieces or mobile on or in vehicles.

Sunglasses give good protection against harmful rays including UV and CCTV.

2) Truncheon blows.
A placard makes a good temporary shield and light strips of plastic under your clothing on the forearm could offer some subtle protection, as do ‘padded’ baseball caps. The best protective clothing however is a good pair of running shoes.

3) CS and Pepper Spray.
Used to disperse crowds or subdue you, through temporary irritation or pain. They can get under contact lenses, stick to natural-fibre clothing, oil-based make-up and lotions. Stay calm and call for a street medic if available. Otherwise, get yourself out of the area, don't rub it in, remove contaminated clothing and try to keep your eyes open so the wind can help it evaporate, or flush (not dilute) it out with much cold or tepid water.

4) Baton charges.
If you want to take a banner, use a long strip of plastic haulage tarpaulin (taught-liner) rather than a sheet. This can be used as a movable barrier to stop charging police or for you to advance behind (see more info in Counter Advancing section later in this guide). Generally cops only advance 20 yards or so, then stop, regroup, then again. Panic stampeding and fear are often worse dangers. Check section 6, on barricades, under Defending below.

5) Dogs
Increasingly used even for ‘hippy riots’ - generally used to intimidate, reinforce thin lines or hold sterile zones behind a police line or charge. Bark, bite, release... They are well-trained, command driven, and trained to scare you. If brave, make padding (e.g. old tyres) for your lower arm and give ‘em a chew, to help others get past; disguise it or you may make yourself a target for snatch squads. They target individuals only, so either crowd them, or best be the sacrificial lamb!

6) Horses
They try to keep in formation. Used to disperse a crowd, get it moving/panicking, to make space in a crowd for cops on foot, or in small groups, siding-on to push the crowd. So fill space behind horses, and try not to panic. Suspend nets at horse rider level, ie above your head height and just right for volleyball. Make staggered barricades, or scatter debris - they don’t need to be high. The horses’ll jump and then slide, and their riders will fall. Warning: contains scenes of potential human/horse harm and gluten - bring your parent along.

7) Vans
They've been used side-on as large mobile fences for containment, sometimes as a second line of defence, and rarely to break up crowds. Used to pre-emptively take space where we're going to be, for later tactical use.

8) Tasers
We're not aware of their use in large crowd situations; they're primarily a one-use weapon.

If you aren’t doing anything else you should always be defending. Whether that means securing a building, strengthening your position on the street, barricading (see later) or protecting others. Here are some ideas:

1) Keep looking outwards. Your friends shouldn’t be insulted by you not looking at them when talking - face towards any potential threat, e.g. the boys & girls in blue.

2) Form cordons as much as possible. Anything the police want, including buildings and especially sound systems, need a strong outwardly-facing cordon. Things may be quiet and you’ll feel like a prick linking arms with complete strangers, but do it. Repeat this mantra: ‘Its not a hippy peacenik thang, its a rock hard revolutionary thang.’ Take a leaf out of the police manual: stand like you’re about to do ‘the conga’, and stick your right hand down the back of the trousers or belt of the person in front, repeat along the line, asking permission first. Its virtually unbreakable, and will leave a hand free.

3) Someone needs to watch the police from a good vantage point, or have spotters on bicycles, so that their next move can be pre-empted. Remember, give info about what's happening, not instructions. On top of the sounds van is not a good place; no one can hear when you shout ‘here come the dog handlers! Fucking run!’ and any gestures you do will be interpreted as dancing...

4) Sitting down is very occasionally good for dissuading the senior officer from making the decision to charge, but you should only do it in large numbers and the crowd needs to feel confident. It has worked in situations where the decision has yet been made how to move us, or where they don't have enough officers. It has not worked when they've already made the decision or started moving. It's about making it too hard for them, not relying on their humanity. Most often it doesn't work, and the first lines will get seriously injured, as you are immobile and vulnerable.

5) Throwing stuff as a defensive tactic. Throwing stuff with the aim of harming the police doesn't work and is counterproductive - it only winds them up so they hit you harder. If you want to throw do it defensively, strategically and en masse - a constant hail of debris creates ‘sterile zones’ into which the police won’t want to go, thus keeping them at arms length. Paint on cops’ visors, aimed especially at higher ranks and intelligence gatherers, can be a temporary advantage. Rape alarms etc chucked into their lines will make it difficult for them to give or get orders, and disorientate them.

REMEMBER: don’t throw to attack or cause injury. Only throw from near the front, then disappear into the crowd. Only wankers throw from the back.

6) Solid impassable barricades are more hassle than they're worth - it will reduce your own options when you need to run. Bear in mind that anything you build now you are likely to get dragged over later, leave out the barbed wire. The best barricades are random matter strewn all over the place, one of the best defences against baton and horse charges. Horses can’t easily charge over them, police find it hard to hold a line in amongst them, but individuals can easily pick their way through. Police think, act and move in lines.

7) The best form of defence of all is chaos! A complicated hierarchy needs orders to act on and those orders come from individuals making informed decisions. If the situation changes constantly they simply cannot keep up. Keep moving all the time, weave in and out of the crowd. Change your appearance. Open up new directions and possibilities, be unpredictable. If you find yourself stood still and passive for more than a minute then you’ve stopped acting defensively.

How To Break The Kettle: An Illustrated Scientific Guide

Wedges are really a kind of inclined plane. A wedge is two inclined planes back to back against each other. The mechanical advantage you get from a wedge depends on how thick it is. A thick short wedge will split things apart faster, but you'll have to use more force. A thin long wedge will be easier to drive in, but it will take longer to split something. Today we have many different uses for wedges.

Sometimes life present us with a problem that we cannot solve without the use of a classic piece of scientific thinking. In today's puzzle, we are trapped in a kettle, surrounded by police officers and we want to get out of it. We have tried shouting en masse 'let us go!' but this has not worked for us. Next we need to do some collective thinking and put a new plan in effect.

The first thing we should do is look for which police line seems the weakest and with the best chance of escape should we break the line. This may be a line of normal cops without riot gear and usually only one officer deep. Here how the work might proceed.

In Fig 1 we see the crowd attempt to break the police line by using opposing force. This can sometimes work but usually the police can brace themselves and hold each other and thus hold the line. In this way, the strength of the crowds' force is lessened and absorbed by the police line.

In Fig 2 we the crowd attempt to get technical and use a banner or metal barrier to push the police. The same dynamic occurs again and the crowds' force is lessened and absorbed by the police line.

In Fig 3, the crowd has decided to form a wedge shape to drive a gap in the police line and follow though, the thickness of the crowd opening more and more of the police line up.

In Fig 4, the crowd knows that the police line weak points are at the extreme ends of the line as the final police person has no brace or support. The crowd attempts two pushes on the line at the weak points.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent advice, thanks for this. I've linked to it here:

    Will have to remember it all for Thursday!