On Friday, November 29th, there will be an unprecedented series of protests targeting retail giant Walmart.
Companies throughout the world have followed Walmart’s example, creating low-pay, low-security jobs. We have all seen our friends, family and neighbors struggle as they are forced to take jobs they know can’t cover their bills. We’re all paying the price for the Walmart economy.
All around the country, Walmart workers are standing up. They have gone on strike in Dallas, Cincinatti, and Southern California to protest Walmart’s attempts to silence them by firing and disciplining those who stand up for their coworkers’ rights. They’re tired of looking their children in the eyes and having to explain why there’s no food in the cabinets while they work for one of the most profitable companies in the world.
Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, and they’ll be holding protests to call on Walmart pay a real wage of $25,000/yr for fulltime work and to end the retaliation against those who speak out.
Workers in YOUR CITY are planning to act. Making Change at Walmart is holding a quick course in how you can support them and mobilize for action. Can you attend a protest training this week to learn how you can get more involved?
If you’re interested in supporting Walmart workers as they let companies know that Walmart-style jobs aren’t good enough for our country, RSVP and get more information.
We know that many of you, whether or not you work for Walmart, will be participating in Black Friday actions. That is why we are offering these tips to help you practice better nonviolent resistance. As always, stay safe.
#BlackFriday Practical Protest Techniques: Using Your Body and a Few Simple Tools
The aim of all the techniques in this briefing is to increase the length of time that you can remain at the site of an action and therefore hopefully increase the effectiveness of your protest, whether you are shutting down a Walmart, blocking the entrance to a military base, stopping a nuclear convoy, or preventing trees being cut down.
Using your body
If you have nothing else at hand, then the best thing you have is your own body weight. Sitting or lying down makes it much more difficult for security guards or police to push or move you away from the place where you want to be. You can increase this difficulty by passively resisting (see below). Co-operating with others can further increase your effectiveness. ACTUP used this in the 80s.
Sit close together and link arms with your neighbors. The more of you that can link arms the better. Five or more people can block a single carriageway of a road. More than a dozen and you can block both carriageways! Link arms at the elbow and bring your hands in front of you. Take a tight hold of your own wrists or elbows. You are now a bit harder to move - the police will need to break your grip before they can pick you up and carry you away. If you're linked together in a line, the people at the end are more vulnerable, so you might want to consider sitting in a circle. Five or more people can form a circle then link arms as above. If everyone's facing inwards, the circle can be made more impregnable by jumbling up your legs as well. If your facing inwards you won't be able to see what's happening behind you. Work together with your group and act as each other's eyes and ears.
Passive resistance is an age old protest technique used to slow down your removal from a protest once you have been arrested. To some people it's an ideological statement about not co-operating with the authorities. Essentially you simply relax your muscles so that you go limp. Best to do this when you're already sitting or lying, though you can passively resist from standing if you're willing to take a fall! By totally relaxing you make it much more difficult for the police to get a good grip of you and to carry you. Instead of being walked away by one officer, you will now have to be carried which will take several officers. Depending on how many police are at the action this will slow down the removal of you and your group considerably and they may even give up when they get tired, or if its too far to the police van. Relaxed muscles also hurt less when they get banged and bumped.
Be aware of the difference between passively and actively resisting arrest. If you flail your arms and try to wriggle away or try to release their grip on you, you may face a charge of 'obstructing a police officer in the execution of their duty'. Remember, it’s always your choice, so if it gets uncomfortable when they start to carry or drag you, you can get up and walk at any time. Wear old shoes and clothing that won't ride up when you are being carried. A rucksack can help protect your back. Some people advise that you break the rule about total relaxation, and keep your chin tucked tightly forward to stop your head dangling and possibly being damaged.
A Word on Communication
It's easy to get carried away and start shouting at police to let your compadres go, especially when friends are under pressure and possibly in pain. Remember that you need to be able to communicate with each other. Maybe the person being pulled out of your line or circle doesn't want you to hang on to their leg and play tug of war with the police, using them as the rope. You need to be able to hear them and respond if they ask for support, or ask you to let go. Keep communication calm and clear and talk through likely scenarios and personal limits in advance, if possible.
The Tools of the Trade
Borrowing heavily from 'Road Raging’
The most basic blockading prop is a banner – there's usually one around somewhere. Wrap your circle up tight in your banner to make it harder for police and security to break you apart. If the banner is made of a tough material so much the better. If you've thought in advance to stitch in a few loops of nylon webbing (old seatbelt or rucksack straps) through which you can stick hands and feet all well and good.
Padlocks and Chains
Blockading gates to cause confusion and may hold up work. Superglue or gum in padlocks means that they have to cut off their own locks and keep buying new ones.
A classic direct action tool. They fit neatly around pieces of machinery, gates and your neck. It is worth working in pairs when trying to lock on. The person locking on carries the U shaped section, and loops it around both a suitable fixed piece of machine/gate and their neck. Then their "buddy", carrying lock barrel and key, secures the lock, and hides, or runs off with the key. If locking on to a machine, someone must let the driver know that operating it will break someone's neck. If locking on, you may be there for some time, so choose your point carefully. They may remove any blankets or seats you have, and isolate you from other protesters, sometimes forming a screen around you.
You may want to keep a spare key about your person but they may search you for it. Any search should be conducted by a same sex officer. If the buddy stays (with key) within earshot, then you can be released in an emergency. It is important that anything you lock onto cannot be removed or unscrewed (like a vehicle foot plate or bumper). Gates can sometimes be removed from their hinges, so consider securing the hinge side as well as the opening side. If there isn't an immoveable object then D-lock yourselves together around the neck in pairs or groups and sit in the road.
If the police are not expecting you they won’t have the appropriate cutting equipment available immediately and so you might be able to stay there for an hour or so until they come with boltcutters. Most contractors have their own hydraulic boltcutters, which cut the strongest lock in seconds. The lock gives a frightening jolt when cut, so don't lock on if you have a neck injury.
You can buy scrap cars very cheaply, but you will get arrested if you're stopped while driving an unroadworthy, uninsured, untaxed car. You can use cars to blockade gates, roads, motorways - just about anything. You can immobilise the car by slashing the tires, removing wheels, or turning it over. You could also try building concrete lock-ons into the car, welding armtubes to the chassis or simply using D-locks to lock on to your own vehicle!
Make sure you have a local member of the National Lawyers Guild to observe your action and what the authorities decide to do with you. This is your right to be publicly disobedient
Resources for more info on lock-ons and blockades Road Raging UHC Collective NVDA toolbox