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Announcement :: DNC
Guide to Decentralized Actions
15 Jul 2004
Guide to Decentralized Actions

During the DNC invasion of Boston, the BTS will be pursuing a 3-pronged approach ( of a Really, Really Democratic Bazaar, a Convergence Center, and a day of Decentralized Actions. While many of us are familiar with the workings of a decentralized action, we are also aware that many of the ideas and tactics will be new to some people. We are therefore doing our best to provide information and outlines (both from outside sources and our writing) to assist people. Our resources will cover the role of affinity groups and clusters ( and their place in the larger context of a convergence such as the DNC. In addition to these general resources, we also offer the following primer on the specifics of how groups can plug into the Day of Action during the DNC.

What are Decentralized Actions?

- Actions planned and executed by autonomous groups without centralized command and control.

- In contrast to the "big march" approach, no one will be be telling you where to go, what to do, when to do it, or what political agenda you must support. Also in contrast, however, decentralized actions require a greater degree of maturity and responsibility on behalf of the participants.

- Affinity groups will be able to plan and execute actions that appeal to them, using tactics that they support and believe to be effective, at a risk level that they can more accurately choose, and that constructively connects with local issues that are important and meaningful to them and the community at large. These benefits, however, come with the requirement of abandoning the passive observer demeanor that is so often found in large centralized actions and becoming a truly active participant.

How does this work out in practice?

- Local organizers provide framework, infrastructure, and support. BTS is committed to providing any resources possible, to the greatest extent possible to affinity groups and clusters to facilitate the planning and successful execution of decentralized actions. - Affinity groups must provide their own autonomous energy and a plan. We cannot stress this enough: When you come to Boston at the end of July, COME WITH A PLAN for decentralized action. - We are committed to providing any resources we have available from local reasearch to site selection to housing for pre-event site visits and so forth, but the initiative must originate from the affinity groups and autonomous clusters themselves if these actions are to be successful.

What if I don't have an affinity group?

So, you came to Boston without an affinity group or without any sort of plan for the Day of Decentralized Actions. We knew it would happen for someone, despite our urgings to the contrary. So what do you do now?

Well, first off, stay safe. You should at least have a buddy to look out for you in protest situations. If no one is looking out for you, how will we know if you got arrested on bogus charges when all you were doing was walking down the street, leaving the convergence center?

Spontaneous affinity groups are not the wisest of decisions (it's probably too late to plan an action, anyway). You should have a level of trust with the people you do an action with and be on the same page politically and tactically.

So perhaps this rules out a lot of the exciting and interesting things you could do during the day of action, but it does not prevent you from participating in a supporting role. Medics, indy media, food not bombs, childcare - a lot of the groups supporting all of us desperately need an extra hand. So instead of entering the protest pen of a march and doing the same-old routine, lend a hand to the folks on the ground.

And next time: Be prepared! Cops are prepared for centralized action now, and our tactics in such situations have grown predictable. If we build up an expectation that there will be decentralized action and people come prepared for decentralized action, then it can be an effective strategy (and surely a lot safer and lower risk than standing in a protest pen surrounded by cops who know exactly where you came from and where you're going). But to work, decentralized action requires a much higher level of commitment and participation from affinity groups. In Boston, we're ready to make that leap. We hope you are, too.

What you can do if you don't have an affinity group or a plan...

- Run water to protestors (Medics will not be able to do this, so we desperately need volunteers to help keep people hydrated!) - Help get food for, cook, serve and clean up Food Not Bombs meals - Put together an event at the Alternative Village or at the Bazaar - Be a legal observer (Must have attended training previously) - Help run errands / get supplies for convergence center - Volunteer to help out with childcare - Ask groups directly what other things need to get done that they don't have enough people to do.
See also:

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Re: Guide to Decentralized Actions
15 Jul 2004
yeah i've got this Ryder truck i need help loading and then i need someone to drive it to one of the streets adjacent to the Fleet center on a really tight schedule -- can one of you anarchist protestors put down your puppets long enough to help me out with this really neat decentralized action? thanks!
Re: Guide to Decentralized Actions
18 Jul 2004