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6 COMMON ISSUES OF SIT-IN’S AND NON-VIOLENT ACTIONS
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People are provoking you to enter into an argument (not a discussion) or are physically threatening you.

If they seem too aggressive to enter into a discussion, tell them you are in silent solidarity with the movement. If they become physically violent, know where the police are and walk near them without retaliating. This is often the hardest part of non-violent actions. But we walk in the shoes of giants, all who’ve suffered for our betterment, so know that history is in your favor. If you retaliate, you can guarantee that the conflict will be on the news, which will certainly hurt the movement. In addition, you will lose the moral upper-hand, which is vital to gaining and maintaining public support.

People who act as if they are in solidarity, yet are behaving in violent or disruptive ways.

It’s important to have a team of people who have the express responsibility of addressing these people. You want to assign people who are excellent at conflict resolution and can de-escalate a situation. First inform them about what type of behavior is expected at the protest. If they persist, have signs ready that state, “THIS PERSON DOES NOT REPRESENT OUR MOVEMENT.” This may seem harsh, but people who are saying vile statements or are acting disruptive often gain media attention that will be used against the movement.

People demanding to know what the movement is about.

The easiest way to address this is to have people that either have informational literature or are capable of clearly articulating the vision of the movement and its larger goals, specifically to people whom are unaware and are skeptical. An information booth or area is the best way to deal with this.

How to behave in the location of your sit-in or march.

This is probably the most important point. You MUST behave like a good caretaker of the location. You must care for it as well as it had been before the sit-in action. You MUST control cleanliness, bathroom issues (so people aren’t peeing and such in the area), noise levels (drums, other loud acoustic instruments and such should be limited to a specific time during the day. Lunch time; between 12-noon and 1pm during business days, 11am to 4 on weekends) The more you aggravate the surrounding people, who very well may be in solidarity with the movement, the easier it is to be removed under “Quality of Life” legal statutes. Marches may differ in relation to noise ordinances. But you must use good judgment in all cases.

When should you and who should get arrested?

The tactic of getting arrested was originally used to fill the jails and stop the system from functioning, which drives public opinion against the police, which forces them to resolve the issue. Well before Martin Luther King was murdered, he was outflanked by a police chief who read his books and studied his tactics. The chief created a network of jails so no one jail could be filled. This blunted the effectiveness of this tactic.

In modernity, it’s impossible to fill the jails, so now it’s been used to shame the system for arresting people for expressing their right of assembly and free speech. The best people to get arrested are elderly, ex-military, those with public notoriety, homeless vets, and high school age people. All of them have maximum sympathy factor with the general public. Other groups often are used to demean the movement by labeling them as “trouble-makers,” “thugs,” and the like who “had it coming.” Also, it drains resources from the movement that should be used for offensive strategic purposes. Getting people out of jail, dealing with court issues and such are defensive actions.

How do you bring others into agreement who may enter a conversation with you as being opposed?

This is something most people have problems with. They want to drive/argue their points until the other agrees. This often doesn’t work. You should assess who you are talking with and make your point in accordance to what you believe would be a “buy-in“ for that specific person. Once you’ve done your best, WITHOUT EVER RAISING YOUR VOICE OR BADGERING THEM, just let them know that you hope they understand you are doing this for the betterment of the entire society and to make the phrase, “And liberty and justice for all” more of a reality. Shake their hand firmly, refer to them as “brother,” “sister,” miss,” or “sir” and wish them a wonderful day. (i.e. “Nice talking with you miss and have a good day.”)


 

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