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Announcement :: DNC
Affinity Groups and Direct Action 101
25 Jun 2004
Guide and introduction to Affinity Groups and Direct Action.
Affinity Groups 101 and How To Plan An Action

Affinity Groups 101

"The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack. The Strength of the Pack is the Wolf"

In addition to the open-air bazaar to celebrate and the convergence center to organize, the Bl(A)ck Tea Society is calling for a decentralized network of affinity group actions to resist the DNC on the Day of Action, Thursday, July 29.

Local Bl(A)ck Tea organizers are here to facilitate and coordinate affinity group actions, but not to plan them. This means that autonomous groups across the nation must assemble and plan actions prior to their journey to Boston. This is a call to initiate the formation of autonomous affinity groups in your area, if you have not done so already.

An affinity group is not something to be formed on the spur of the moment. An affinity group should be composed of a small handful of individuals who are comfortable working and organizing together. Individuals within an affinity group must be on the same page politically, socially, as well as tactically. All members of the affinity group must be well aware of the situation at hand and must come to consensus regarding tactics in the street prior to entering the streets -- this includes back-up plans, as well as jail solidarity ( In the heat of the moment, if a single individual panics or otherwise feels too uncomfortable to continue, the entire group fails.

An affinity group is based on a network of relationships. Each individual is directly responsible for the safety and interests of the group, while the group is directly responsible for the safety and interests of each individual. It is these intertwining relationships that give the affinity group its strength; by the same token, a single poor relationship will bring down the entire group. An affinity group is only as strong as its weakest link.

This decentralized approach to protest in the streets has been organized for safety reasons as well as for practical reasons. With all actions being planned and executed at the affinity level, security risk is at its lowest point. Even if the State should manage to seize an entire affinity group, the operation shall remain intact. This network of actions will enable all affinity groups involved to assess their own risk level, and protest or celebrate as creatively as they can imagine. If you have any questions regarding the formation of affinity groups, their function, or their purpose, contact the Bl(A)ck Tea Society at nodnc04 (at)

How To Plan An Action

When organizing a network of decentralized direct actions, most of the planning and organizing must be done at the local level by autonomous affinity groups. Each affinity group much reach consensus regarding tactics and, more importantly, exactly what they wish to do. Planning an action should not be a spur of the moment thing. Affinity groups should decide on their primary goal and should have at least one secondary goal.

This guide is intended to facilitate the planning process. It will follow the various stages of a fictional action. While the action itself is purely fictional, the specific details will be similar for any action.

Hypothetic Action Plan:

All too often, yard gnomes are viciously oppressed by homeowners seeking to compete with each other in placing the most unneeded and obnoxious objects in their yards. From miniature windmills to flowerpots in the shape of chickens, to pink flamingos and the elusive yard gnome, they all must be liberated from the evil clutches of the tyrannical homeowners. For these reasons, Affinity Group Alpha and Affinity Group Beta (No Gnomes Cluster) will be executing Operation: No More Gnomes.

Operation: No More Gnomes is a two-pronged plan. The initial phase of this operation involves the quick and efficient removal of all lawn ornaments in a three-block area of ground zero. Affinity Group Alpha will execute this phase. The second phase of the mission will be executed by Affinity Group Beta and involves the planting of a young sapling or shrubbery in the place of each lawn ornament to illustrate the superior visual appeal of Mother Nature's ornaments. The two affinity groups together will be designated the No Gnomes Cluster.

In order to successfully execute Operation No More Gnomes, much planning must be done prior to entering the streets. The three-block radius was decided upon after much discussion of how much ground the affinity groups could successfully cover. After much debate, three blocks eventually won consensus approval. The next stage in the planning must be to place ground zero on the map. If only three blocks can be covered, then the placement of the center of the liberation zone is crucial. It must be placed in an area that has a high lawn ornament count, low traffic, and high cover (objects to hide behind).

Once ground zero is placed upon the map, a detailed field observation unit must be dispatched. The route must be scouted and carefully mapped in detail. All relative information must be recorded. Specifically, exactly how far into the respective homeowners' lawns are the ornaments located? How much do they weigh? Are they secured? Will they be awkward to carry? Do the homeowners have lights on motion sensors? Do they have dogs? Are there sprinkler assemblies, swing-sets, or other objects that will be in the way? Are there other objects present that may be used for cover?

Once all data is recorded, specific roles must be assigned. Two Alpha comrades will enter each homeowner's lawn and quickly liberate the ornaments. One Alpha comrade will wait on the opposite side of the lawn to receive the ornaments and secure them in camouflaged sacks; another Alpha comrade runs the sacks to a secure location deep in the woods for collection later. The final Alpha comrade will patrol the street and keep surveillance of the entire operation. Should possible hostile personnel be sighted, it is this comrade who will sound the abort signal and howl like a coyote. This will enable all members of Affinity Group Alpha to stealthily and quickly escape, while any passerby (hostile personnel included) will not think anything of the sound, as coyotes are common in the region.

As soon as Affinity Group Alpha disappears into the shadows and moves on to the next target, Affinity Group Beta will spring into action. The requires the No Gnomes Cluster to remain in close proximity with each other, however still remain far enough apart as to not give away each other's position.

As Affinity Group Beta descends upon each target, they will have to move quickly and quietly. One comrade will carry the shovel and quickly dig a hole where the ornament once stood. Two comrades will run across the lawn with the young sapling or shrubbery and quickly plant it in the hole. Once again, the final member will stand guard and watch over the operation, always ready to sound the abort at a moment's notice.

...This example was meant to illustrate the various steps involved in planning and executing an action. Ideally, each affinity group should have a back-up plan. In this case, in the presence of danger, the group would simply fall back, regroup, and attempt another target. This might not always be the best option however; sometimes a complete turnaround may be needed. Please carry out your plans carefully; be safe, be effective, and have fun! If you have any questions, contact the Bl(A)ck Tea Society at nodnc04 (at)
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Re: Affinity Groups and Direct Action 101
25 Jun 2004
"All too often, yard gnomes are viciously oppressed"

This is great! Funny *and* informative. Nice article.
Re: Affinity Groups and Direct Action 101
26 Jun 2004
When one Affinity Group Alpha member inadvertanly drops said lawn ornament on her/his foot, requiring immediate emergency medical assistance ( pink flamingos can be heavy )the trained affinity group medic steps up to treat and help evacuate the injured comrade. For more on what an affinity group medic does, and why every affinity group should have someone in this role, contact the Boston Area Liberation Medics (BALM ) Collective.