Sample Mobile Street Tactics Training
“You will need to deal with fast-moving, ambiguous, and unstructured situations that will test your resourcefulness to the utmost.” CIA Recruitment Manual
I. Preparation and Support:
Hi, welcome to Washington DC, it’s September 29, you’re out on the
street, and of course this is what you’ve done before you leftŠ.
Made sure you have someone looking out for you, your stuff, have a
contact at home who can help mobilize support and a prearranged
Eaten well – water, food in pocket
Dressed well, – layers, prep for cold, tear gas and water cannons
Jail Names –
Place for ID, stuff
Identified your goals for the day, several potential targets, regroup
spaces and safe space.
II. Don’t Panic, etc. Awareness
–Grounding-how to not panic, not get carried away by rage, but stay
in a state in which you can take in information and make conscious
choices-fear anyone? What does it feel like-tense up body, then
consciously relax, feel feet on the ground (if time), Rage anyone?
What does that feel like? Ground again.
–Moving while grounded
group stands up, put arms out to the side, and slowly bring
them in until they can just see their thumbs wiggling at the edge of
their peripheral vision. Help them notice how wide their peripheral
vision can be. Then they mill around in the space, trying to stay
grounded and aware of what’s going on on the edge of their vision.
Trainers play police or prison guards, snatch someone from the crowd
to see if they react and protect the person. Good for helping people
to not get surrounded, surprised by police.
–(‘Murder’-People mill about staying grounded, in wide attention,
shaking hands and introducing themselves to each other, trainer
squeezes someone’s hand three times, that person becomes the cop,
snatches the next person. On the next round, the cop squeezes
someone’ hand three times, that person becomes the ‘cop’, etc.)
–(Triangle-people choose two others (without telling them) and try
to stay equidistant from them both at all times as the group mingles.
Variation-two people at random stand still, see how different the
group movement becomes.) (Parentheses mean do them if time allows.)
–Buddies-People choose buddies and mill about keeping aware of their
buddy’s whereabouts at all times-trainers again ‘snatch’ someone.
–Shouting “I’m ____, I’m being arrested,”
–Swarm: Protestors standing, police attack, crowd swarms around to
absorb the intended victim. Practice several times.
–Dropping, going limp, demonstrate with two police, one protestor.
Protestor tenses his body, police demonstrate picking the person up
and carrying him off, relatively easily.
Now protestor relaxes completely, goes limp except for
tucking chin to prevent head from bouncing. Police try to drag the
Now the protestor breathes deep, visualizes roots anchoring her to
the ground. Again police try to drag her off.
(if time, the whole group practices in groups of three)
–Puppy piling: When cops snatch protestor, she drops, neighbor
throws herself on top, forming a bridge with hands and knees, others
pile on top, attempting to protect their own stomachs, and each
others’ heads, etc. make the following points: Person on the bottom
must curl up and make themselves small.
Second person must form a bridge, brace some of the weight.
Don’t make so huge a pile you crush the people on the bottom.
Often most useful in jail situations to prevent people from being
singled out and taken away. Higher risk-you may get beaten or
arrested, but a useful deterrent especially when cops are outnumbered.
III. Affinity Groups–
Affinity groups: Explain affinity groups, roles, etc. Divide into
groups of five or six. Mill about while keeping track of the whole
–Regroup: all mill about, at a signal, all scatter, affinity groups
try to regroup using call, drumbeat or rhythm.
Flags-Introduce flags for different levels of risk. Affinity groups
choose which flag they will follow: high risk or low risk. Recruit
flag bearers. Group again mills about as flag bearers walk together,
at a signal, flags split and groups follow. Repeat until group can
do it easily and smoothly.
Hassle lines: Protestor in department store/store manager
Protestor in Smithsonian/security guard
De-escalation-bring out body language, eye contact, remembering
grounding, staying calm, posture, legal issues with cops
V. Street safety:
Rumor-at end of debriefing, someone runs in, says cops are
downstairs, we’ve got to get out! See what happens, remind group of
grounding, discuss rumors, street safety:
Awareness, peripheral vision
Regroup plan, safe space, multiple possible targets
Buddies, affinity groups, clusters, etc.
Crowd Dynamics – what’s going on, who’s around me, allies, threats,
how does it feel
Cop Dynamics – what are they doing, formation, masks, commanders
VI. Stop Action Role Plays:
A solid line of police with nightsticks of rolled newspaper:
A crowd of protestors:
–Protestors standing, police advance with batons held in both hands
to push crowd back. Note how easy it is to move a standing crowd.
Stress the crucial role people in back lines have in protecting
people in front.
–Protestors standing, police advance, crowd sits down. Don’t hit
yet: note how much harder it is to move a group of people sitting.
Discuss why you might do one or the other.
(–Amoeba: Protestors sitting, police advance, attack one person.
Crowd absorbs the intended victim, by people behind grabbing and
pulling, people on the sides grabbing victim’s arms, pulling back and
squeezing in. Practice several times.)
–Calling attention: Practice the amoeba, this time with other
protestors calling the attention of the media by pointing. Possibly
add Oming if it seems appropriate to the group. Protestors in back
in safe zone can run and get media.
–Street negotiations with cops-discuss this possibility and make
sure you frame it as a political decision the group should make.
Point out safest place for negotiator to be (in the middle of the
crowd, at least to start), why you might decide to do this (buy time,
etc.), and underline that negotiator is a spokes for the group, NOT
empowered to make decisions for the group.
2. Side snatch:
–Protestors regroup, change police, advance again. Police swing to
the side, snatch someone.
–Discuss-linking arms, perimeter formation
–Protestors form up, advance, cops block in front, second group of
cops comes from behind.
4. Differing levels of risk:
–group divides into two contingents-a higher risk that will follow
the red flag, a lower risk that will follow the green flag:
Protestors advance, cops advance and meet them, green flag retreats
to safe space.
–group divides into three: blue will attempt to break through, red
will sit down if cops advance, green will go to safety.
–standing line, holding hands, linking arms, sitting and linking,
linking legs, (if time, knot,)
Pain compliance holds
VIII. Self Protection
“Getting hit on the head lessons”-
–horses–teach human carpet,
–dogs-look at handler,not dog, protect extremities, etc.
—clubs and beating: Demonstrate protective position: curled up to
protect stomach, hands in fists behind back of neck, face tucked
down, if lying on the ground, on right side in fetal position.
–Chemical weapons-tear gas and pepper spray, what to wear, you can
breathe, eye wash, gargle and spit, detox, etc.
–remind group of grounding-are they grounded? Breathe, relax,
release fear the role plays and discussion have brought up.
Legal number, where to get further training.
Short discussion of jail:
System designed to tear you up, humiliate, break, destroy
Pits one against another
Prepare for love and rage
Support one another, meet, organize, but also have fun, dance, sing,
teach classes, have speak-out’s teach-ins, discussion, rituals, ti
chi, etc etcŠ
We have more power/safety when acting collectively than acting alone
Jail solidarity is about forcing system to deal with us as a group,
–Discuss need for post action meetings, debriefing, trauma symptoms,
what helps? Telling the story, listening not fixing, grounding,
advocates with professionals.