ACTION HANDBOOK
Disclaimer: this checklist probably is not complete and not suitable for all type of actions. If you need any specific advice, contact @laura_xr on Mattermost

TO DO before the action

Actions don't just happen. Don't underestimate the amount of time needed to be fully prepared for a good civil disobedient action. If you follow these 9 steps, you will arrive at you action ready for every kind of scenario.

1. Make a plan

  • Be as creative as you want, as long as your plan follows the principles and values of XR everything is possible
  • Don’t hesitate to ‘steal’ good ideas from other XR groups or ask more experienced rebels for advice.
  • Think about the strategic value of your action using the questions from the tactical star:
    • Who are your targeting and why?
    • What are your demands?
    • How are you making sure your action is disruptive enough to not go unnoticed?
    • How will you get the attention from the media and/or the general public? Going to a place where media is already present guarantees attention.
    • What is the best moment to do your action? Also keep in mind if you can mobilize enough people at that moment.
  • Think big, but not too big. Better prepare a smaller action very well, than having an over-ambitious supercool plan but no time and not enough people to do it. And sometimes its better to take a bit more time.
  • Think about how to end the action: do you aim to get arrested or do you want to leave voluntarily after a certain period of time? What do you do if he police doesn't arrest you? Can you think of an ending that is coherent with your demands and messaging?
  • Try to imagine how an outsider (passer-by, press, etc) would see the action. How can it be interpreted by someone that doesn't know what it is about? How can you make sure that the design of the action is in line with your messaging?

2. Invite people to join

  • Decide if you want to mobilize openly for the action or if you want to do it secretly.
    • Be aware that the police is following what we do on Facebook. If you are only a small group and you want to do civil disobedience, you better mobilize secretly among known rebels.
    • If you expect many people to come or if you are not planning to do anything too illegal, you can do it openly.
  • For secret mobilization use:
    • Your own list of trusted rebels in your group: we advise you to use Signal, Protonmail or face-to-face contact only
    • Contact @laura_xr on Mattermost if you want to mobilisation rebels on a national level
  • For open mobilization use:
    • The mailing list of your local group or collective
    • The Facebook page of your local group or collective
    • If you think your action is interesting for people from other groups, you can also spread the call to action via:
      • the XR Belgium mailing list – ask via [email protected] to include it in the next newsletter
      • The XR Belgium Facebook page: contact [email protected] to create and promote the event.
  • You will need to find people for specific roles:
    • police spokes person: is in direct contact with the police during the action – lower risk of arrest
    • media spokes person(s): speak before, during ánd after the action to the press – preferably a French and Dutch speaker. Important: include mobile phone numbers in the press release
    • back-office: collects all digital materials during the action, sends out the press release, reports on the action via social media, keeps contact with the police spokes person.
    • arrestees support: keeps track of who is arrested, warns family or friends in case of arrest, contacts the lawyer and mobilizes support if needed.
  • NOTE: take enough time for mobilization and don’t expect it to happen out of nothing! People are busy and one e-mail only probably won’t get their attention.

3. Go scouting

  • If the action takes place inside a building, try to visit it beforehand:
    • If it is a private building maybe you can go on an organized tour? Or think of an excuse to be allowed in, for instance as architecture student.
    • If you can’t get inside, search for pictures and videos on-line (videos of past events, advertising / promotion images, etc).
    • Get insiders' information (find out whether someone knows a person who works there, ask "innocent" questions to the security people when on a visit...)
    • Make a map of the location, as detailed as possible with all the information you have gathered.
    • Chose a location in the building that looks good on photo or video. Any logo’s you want to be in the picture?
    • Think about what the police or security will do in reaction to your action. Can they easily close down the part of the building you are in? Are there back entrances they can use?
    • Think about a plan B: in case they don’t allow you in, can you do something at the entrance?
  • If the action takes place in a public space, make a good map of the area:
    • Chose a location that looks good on photo or video. Any logo’s you want to be in the picture?
    • If you want to arrive as a group, how do you walk?
    • Make a plan for how to deal with traffic. Obstructing it is no problem, making it unsafe is!
    • Where is the nearest police station and how quick will the police arrive?
    • If you intent to stay for a long time, what is the most comfortable space? Can you find a dry place in case of rain?
    • Think about a plan B: in case you don’t reach the place you chose, is there a second best option?
  • Ask [email protected] if a similar action has been done before by another group and if you can use their legal advice.
  • If not, ask the legal experts in your group for advice. The legal experts in the national action circle ([email protected]) might be able to help out, if needed.
  • Make sure there is a lawyer on stand-by on the day of the action. If you don’t have contact with a lawyer yourself, ask [email protected] for advice.

5. Prepare materials

  • Design and paint banners or t-shirts, if needed. Maybe you can also reuse existing materials. Contact @laura_xr on Mattermost if you want to reuse any materials from other groups.
  • Design and print flyers, if needed. Check with [email protected] if there are existing designs and templates.
  • Buy or find any other materials you need.
    • If you need money for the materials, collect money within your own group.
    • Contact the finances circle [email protected] if you need support with fund-raising.

6. Make a communication plan

  • Contact the communication working group of your local or collective (if you have one) for advice and to make sure they are aware of your action plan
  • Write a press release (think about the languages you want to use and calculate enough time for good translational)
  • Write draft texts for social media
  • Find a photographer and/or someone to make video
    • Ask around if someone in your group is good at photo or video
    • If you can’t find anyone contact [email protected] to ask if someone from outside your group is available.
    • Don’t forget to ask the person making video to be available for editing afterwards!
  • Make a plan on when and how to contact the press
    • NOTE: Getting attention from the press is not easy. A single press release will not be enough. You need to invite journalists individually by phone or do actions during an event where the press is already present.
    • Think about when to inform the press. You can do it as soon as the action starts – press release should be send out by the back-office – or you can do it beforehand under embargo. For very sensitive actions, only inform trusted journalists beforehand and don’t use embargoed press releases.
  • Send a message to [email protected] to inform them about the action so they can prepare to amplify your communication via the national channels.

7. Do a proper rehearsal

  • Rehearse carefully everything that is possible to rehearse in the most realistic situation possible. It is like in the theater no one ever goes on stage before having tried out every single step!
    • Are you going to say or shout something? Practice it together in a place that is similar to where you are planning to the action – go outside, practice in the metro, on the street, in front of your friends…
    • Do you need to do something with your clothing or with props (banners, flags etc) on the spot? Try it out to make sure it works and you can do it quick enough. Practice how you take props with you and how you can take them quickly out of your bags or clothes.
    • Can you practice the end-scenario? Do it! How will you react when the police asks you to leave? How does it feel to be carried out and how does it look on camera?

8. Organize a briefing

  • Find a good location and time to do a briefing.
    • Make sure ALL activists are there.
    • Best is to do it just before the action but sometimes the evening before works better.
    • It is practical to be at walking distance from the place of the action.
  • Explain people the plan, with as much details as possible, preferably showing pictures and a map of the location.
  • Make a clear list of all the needed tasks in beforehand to be attributed during the briefing. Make sure people are well instructed about their roles.
  • Create a specific Signal group where all participants share who to contact in case of arrest. Add the arrestees support person to this group:
    • Important: the arrestees support person should NOT take part in the action in any way. This role can be combined with the role of back-office. If you are with a very big group, ask people to fill in the arrestant form and give these to the arrestees support BEFORE the action starts.
  • Take enough time to do a good worst-case-scenarios session with everybody involved:
    • What could be different from what you expect and how will you react?
    • What could go wrong and what do you do in the different alternative scenario’s

9. Optional: inform the police

  • For some actions, it is smart to inform the police beforehand. This can limit the repression and make your action sometimes more effective or more accessible for new rebels.
  • You can decide yourself if you want to inform the police beforehand or not, but there is one golden rule: do not trick the police, or tell them lies. Obviously this doesn't mean you always have to tell the police everything you plan to do. Be smart with that!
  • If you are not sure about your approach to the police, you can ask @laura_xr on Mattermost for advice.

DURING THE ACTION

  • Activists do the action!
    • Please make sure everyone stays as safe as possible during the action: take care of traffic, bring water and food and appoint people to speak to angry bystanders.
  • People in support roles make sure the activists are safe
    • If activists are in a position where they can not move (glued of chained to something), make sure they have at least one person assigned to give support. This can be giving food and water, but also talking to the police.
  • Police spokes person contacts the police.
    • The advice is to do this as soon as the action starts and to explain the police exactly what is going to happen.
    • If the police is not present directly, you can consider calling them yourself to explain the situation
  • Live streaming via Facebook is recommended, to spread the message but also for your own safety.
  • Photography: bring along a good photographer that tries to not get arrested. She/he sends the images to the back-office as soon as possible!
  • Video: bring along a good filmer that tries to not get arrested. She/he sends the footage to the back-office as soon as possible!

AFTER THE ACTION

  • Arrestees support person checks if people are arrested
    • Don’t just assume that people are ok, make sure you see them or receive a message from them
    • If people are arrested, contact the personal contacts that people shared in the signal group to inform family or friends.
    • Think about a media strategy: do you want to send on update about the arrests to the media? Do you want to spread the news via your social media channels.
    • Next step: be patient. The first 12 hours during administrative arrest there is not much you can do.
    • If people are not out after 12 hours, contact your lawyer and get advice on what to do. Also, inform [email protected] on what is happening.
    • Try to find out at which police station people are and organize a team in front of the door to receive the activists when they come out.
  • Do a good debrief directly after the action, with all people who have taken part / with those who haven't been arrested. And don’t forget to celebrate!
    • In case of arrest, try to organize a short debrief as soon people get out or within a few days after the action. Arrest can have unexpected impacts, it is important to have a space to collectively share experiences.
    • Make sure there is someone from your Regenerative culture working group appointed as person to speak to. Arrest can have unexpected impacts, it is important have someone to talk to individually if needed.
  • Edit the video and spread it on social media as fast as possible.
  • Organize an evaluation: this can be done during a specific meeting or can be done digitally
    • Share your lessons learned with @laura_xr on Mattermost
    • Make plans for the next action!