Peaceful protests are vital because protests that do not resort to violence are much harder to put down. Dictators are familiar with violence. When protesters stoop to their level, they know how to deal with them.
The world is more comfortable with dictators, or any government for that matter, who meet violence with violence. In today’s international communities, helped with instant communication, how the world looks at you is invaluable and key to survival.
Peaceful protests change everything. Dictators are hard-pressed when dealing with this type, realizing that the world does not look kindly towards violence against peaceful demonstrations. They are also keenly aware that the world is much more likely to support non-violent protests. It is imperative that protesters police themselves, make sure there are no weapons present, and prevent violent people from hijacking the movement for their own purposes.
Avoid mob violence at all costs. It divides the movement and alienates national and international support that might be forthcoming. Peaceful protesters may defend themselves, but only after exhausting all other measures. Martyrdom is to be expected in most revolutions, and that is unfortunate. However, protesters must never draw first blood. It is understandable that once the body count becomes unacceptable the protesters have every right to fight back. Even so, they must never resort to mob violence.
TheRevolutionCenter condemns mob violence of any kind before, during, or after a revolution. Even dictators deserve their day in court – if they surrender.
Work stoppage or slowdown
Work stoppage or slowdowns draws attention to the movement.
- Work slowdown might be the most benign and safest way to protest.
- Work stoppage is more dangerous, but has a greater impact.
Supplies and plans needed for protests
Ideally you want something that is easy to hide, easy to get at, and easy to get rid of. With that said, protesting situations are rarely ideal.
It is easier to be caught when bringing larger items to protests. However, if you have means of transportation, consider bringing some large items, along with larger volumes of everything else listed below. People who are without supplies will need them.
Each protester needs the following supplies
- Running shoes or sneakers
- Use a bag, knapsack, or bucket to carry items listed below. Your mobility is better the smaller the container. Only innocent items go in here.
- Drinking Water
- Baking soda
- Medical supplies
- Magic marker
- Change of clothing
- Rubber bands
- Heavy duty garbage bag
- Cloth or a paper towel soaked in lemon juice, cider vinegar, or even soda pop, and stored it in a plastic bag is good for Tear gas.
- A cell phone can stay in the container, unless you have used it to take pictures of the protesters. If you take pictures, phones need to go in your pocket, or stay in your hands, for quick deletion of pictures if needed.
- Keep the following in a pocket, separate container, or in your hands for easy disposal if needed.
- Contact information on how to reach next of kin. Whether you discard this information, in an emergency, depends on what the government does to the families of those captured.
- Safe house information
- Phone numbers
- Maps showing routes of escape
- Hard hat
- Gas mask
- Eye goggles
- Symbols of the movement – colored ribbons, flags, etc.
- Large pieces of cardboard for making posters, shelter, light barriers, etc.
- Posters are more useful if they have two sides. Those who know English can reserve one side for English. This helps when speaking to the international community. If other languages are pertinent to your area, use them widely as well.
Each protester needs the following plans
- A plan, backup plan, and tertiary plan; for when things get ugly.
- A meeting place that everyone comes back to when the protest is over.
- A friend checking that you are OK and made it home safely.
- Routes of escape away from the protest area.
Protest group needs
- Bullhorns or megaphones
- Cell phones or other means of communicating between groups, runners, and lookouts
- Buckets and garbage cans: Aside from their normal uses, they can cover up tear gas canisters, rendering them less effective.
- Buckets and garbage cans (with lids); protect equipment from water or smoke damage, carry equipment, large amounts of drinking water, extra clothes, etc.
- Baking soda and water: for cleaning out wounds, neutralizing tear gas, rinsing eyes, etc.
- Heavy-duty garbage bags: Used for shelter from rain or water cannons, garbage collection, tear gas, etc.
- Rope, string or wire: used for tying items together, building shelter, making posters, erecting barriers, etc.
Critical mass occurs when protesters lose all fear due to the size of their group. The object of every protest is to reach critical mass as quickly as possible. If there is a smaller group, absorb it. If there is a larger group, join it. Never stand around in small divided groups. If a larger group spots a smaller isolated group they should try to help the smaller one reach them, where there is safety in numbers.
Avoid being divided from your group. Do not advertise that you are a protester until after you reach a sizable demonstration. If critical mass is insufficient, and if violence against protesters too severe, abandon demonstrations for the time being. You can always fight another day. If needed, drop all items identifying you as a protester and make your escape.
If critical mass has been achieved, and if violence against protesters too severe, one will come to realize that a full-scale revolution is brewing. It always helps to recall the numbers you saw with your own eyes, when the government tries to deny them later.
Small protest groups
Keep the regime guessing by grouping and then retreating. Many small groups, at different and spread out places, can keep the government off-balance. The government cannot be everywhere at once.
Large protest groups
If opposition is not expected then people should converge at a central square, government building, or area known to all, preferably for its historical significance.
If a large opposition plans a counter protest, separate groups should start further away. Marching towards the planned site, their ranks can swell exponentially as they join with other like-minded groups coming together. Spies, or runners with cell phones, can report where the opposition has gathered. Circumvent these areas to avoid conflict.
If conflict is certain, wait until the last moment. At the right time, allied groups converging from all directions can form one huge force. This outcome is achievable with planning by group leaders, good communication, and luck. Even if all does not go as well as planned, small groups are less likely to be isolated. Everyone must have the greatest chance possible of finding safety in numbers.
- Government may use protesters of their own.
- If opposition group is smaller, hold your ground.
- If opposition group is larger, seek protection with larger group of allied protesters.
- Do not allow the opposition to divide and conquer your forces.
- Governments do everything when it comes to putting down revolution. They use agents posing as protesters to lure small opposition groups into thinking they are one of them. Protesters joining these mock protests are then attacked or arrested.
Danger index (1-10)
All types of protests need a danger index of 1-10. This gives people a sense to the type of risk they are taking.
We have marked most danger ratings below with a “?”. theRevolutionCenter needs help with Danger ratings and more ideas on Type.
Next: Government response
Written by Scott M. Eaton
Created on … May 20, 2011