How to Form an Affinity Group

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Jan 022020
 

From CrimethInc.

The Essential Building Block of Anarchist Organization

Turbulent times are upon us. Already, blockades, demonstrations, riots, and clashes are occuring regularly. It’s past time to be organizing for the upheavals that are on the way.

But getting organized doesn’t mean joining a pre-existing institution and taking orders. It shouldn’t mean forfeiting your agency and intelligence to become a cog in a machine. From an anarchist perspective, organizational structure should maximize both freedom and voluntary coordination at every level of scale, from the smallest group up to society as a whole.

You and your friends already constitute an affinity group, the essential building block of this model. An affinity group is a circle of friends who understand themselves as an autonomous political force. The idea is that people who already know and trust each other should work together to respond immediately, intelligently, and flexibly to emerging situations.

This leaderless format has proven effective for guerrilla activities of all kinds, as well as what the RAND Corporation calls “swarming” tactics in which many unpredictable autonomous groups overwhelm a centralized adversary. You should go to every demonstration in an affinity group, with a shared sense of your goals and capabilities. If you are in an affinity group that has experience taking action together, you will be much better prepared to deal with emergencies and make the most of unexpected opportunities.

This guide is adapted from an earlier version that appeared in our Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook.

Affinity Groups are Powerful

Relative to their small size, affinity groups can achieve a disproportionately powerful impact. In contrast to traditional top-down structures, they are free to adapt to any situation, they need not pass their decisions through a complicated process of ratification, and all the participants can act and react instantly without waiting for orders—yet with a clear idea of what to expect from one another. The mutual admiration and inspiration on which they are founded make them very difficult to demoralize. In stark contrast to capitalist, fascist, and socialist structures, they function without any need of hierarchy or coercion. Participating in an affinity group can be fulfilling and fun as well as effective.

Most important of all, affinity groups are motivated by shared desire and loyalty, rather than profit, duty, or any other compensation or abstraction. Small wonder whole squads of riot police have been held at bay by affinity groups armed with only the tear gas canisters shot at them.

The Affinity Group is a Flexible Model

Some affinity groups are formal and immersive: the participants live together, sharing everything in common. But an affinity group need not be a permanent arrangement. It can serve as a structure of convenience, assembled from the pool of interested and trusted people for the duration of a given project.

A particular team can act together over and over as an affinity group, but the members can also break up into smaller affinity groups, participate in other affinity groups, or act outside the affinity group structure. Freedom to associate and organize as each person sees fit is a fundamental anarchist principle; this promotes redundancy, so no one person or group is essential to the functioning of the whole, and different groups can reconfigure as needed.

The affinity group is a flexible model.

Pick the Scale That’s Right for You

An affinity group can range from two to perhaps as many as fifteen individuals, depending on your goals. However, no group should be so numerous that an informal conversation about pressing matters is impossible. You can always split up into two or more groups if need be. In actions that require driving, the easiest system is often to have one affinity group to each vehicle.

Get to Know Each Other Intimately

Learn each other’s strengths and vulnerabilities and backgrounds, so you know what you can count on each other for. Discuss your analyses of each situation you are entering and what is worth accomplishing in it—identify where they match, where they are complentary, and where they differ, so you’ll be ready to make split-second decisions.

One way to develop political intimacy is to read and discuss texts together, but nothing beats on-the-ground experience. Start out slow so you don’t overextend. Once you’ve established a common language and healthy internal dynamics, you’re ready to identify the objectives you want to accomplish, prepare a plan, and go into action.

Decide Your Appropriate Level of Security

Affinity groups are resistant to infiltration because all members share history and intimacy with each other, and no one outside the group need be informed of their plans or activities.

Once assembled, an affinity group should establish a shared set of security practices and stick to them. In some cases, you can afford to be public and transparent about your activities. in other cases, whatever goes on within the group should never be spoken of outside it, even after all its activities are long completed. In some cases, no one except the participants in the group should know that it exists at all. You and your comrades can discuss and prepare for actions without acknowledging to outsiders that you constitute an affinity group. Remember, it is easier to pass from a high security protocol to a low one than vice versa.

Make Decisions Together

Affinity groups generally operate on via consensus decision-making: decisions are made collectively according to the needs and desires of every individual involved. Democratic voting, in which the majority get their way and the minority must hold their tongues, is anathema to affinity groups—for if a group is to function smoothly and hold together under stress, every individual involved must be satisfied. Before any action, the members of a group should establish together what their personal and collective goals are, what risks they are comfortable taking, and what their expectations of each other are. These matters determined, they can formulate a plan.

Since action situations are always unpredictable and plans rarely come off as anticipated, it may help to employ a dual approach to preparing. On the one hand, you can make plans for different scenarios: If A happens, we’ll inform each other by X means and switch to plan B; if X means of communication is impossible, we’ll reconvene at site Z at Q o’clock. On the other hand, you can put structures in place that will be useful even if what happens is unlike any of the scenarios you imagined. This could mean preparing resources (such as banners, medical supplies, or offensive equipment), dividing up internal roles (for example, scouting, communications, medic, media liaison), establishing communication systems (such as burner phones or coded phrases that can be shouted out to convey information securely), preparing general strategies (for keeping sight of one another in confusing environments, for example), charting emergency escape routes, or readying legal support in case anyone is arrested.

After an action, a shrewd affinity group will meet (if necessary, in a secure location without any electronics) to discuss what went well, what could have gone better, and what comes next.

It’s safer to act in chaotic protest environments in a tight-knit affinity group.

Tact and Tactics

An affinity group answers to itself alone—this is one of its strengths. Affinity groups are not burdened by the procedural protocol of other organizations, the difficulties of reaching agreement with strangers, or the limitations of answering to a body not immediately involved in the action.

At the same time, just as the members of an affinity group strive for consensus with each other, each affinity group should strive for a similarly considerate relationship with other individuals and groups—or at least to complement others’ approaches, even if others do not recognize the value of this contribution. Ideally, most people should be glad of your affinity group’s participation or intervention in a situation, rather than resenting or fearing you. They should come to recognize the value of the affinity group model, and so to employ it themselves, after seeing it succeed and benefiting from that success.

Organize With Other Affinity Groups

An affinity group can work together with other affinity groups in what is sometimes called a cluster. The cluster formation enables a larger number of individuals to act with the same advantages a single affinity group has. If speed or security is called for, representatives of each group can meet ahead of time, rather than the entirety of all groups; if coordination is of the essence, the groups or representatives can arrange methods for communicating through the heat of the action. Over years of collaborating together, different affinity groups can come to know each other as well as they know themselves, becoming accordingly more comfortable and capable together.

When several clusters of affinity groups need to coordinate especially massive actions—before a big demonstration, for example—they can hold a spokescouncil meeting at which different affinity groups and clusters can inform one another (to whatever extent is wise) of their intentions. Spokescouncils rarely produce seamless unanimity, but they can apprise the participants of the various desires and perspectives that are at play. The independence and spontaneity that decentralization provides are usually our greatest advantages in combat with a better equipped adversary.

Bottomlining

For affinity groups and larger structures based on consensus and cooperation to function, it is essential that everyone involved be able to rely on each other to come through on commitments. When a plan is agreed upon, each individual in a group and each group in a cluster should choose one or more critical aspects of the preparation and execution of the plan and offer to bottomline them. Bottomlining the supplying of a resource or the completion of a project means guaranteeing that it will be accomplished somehow, no matter what. If you’re operating the legal hotline for your group during a demonstration, you owe it to them to handle it even if you get sick; if your group promises to provide the banners for an action, make sure they’re ready, even if that means staying up all night the night before because the rest of your affinity group couldn’t show up. Over time, you’ll learn how to handle crises and who you can count on in them—just as others will learn how much they can count on you.

Go Into Action

Stop wondering what’s going to happen, or why nothing’s happening. Get together with your friends and start deciding what will happen. Don’t go through life in passive spectator mode, waiting to be told what to do. Get in the habit of discussing what you want to see happen—and making those ideas reality.

Without a structure that encourages ideas to flow into action, without comrades with whom to brainstorm and barnstorm and build up momentum, you are likely to be paralyzed, cut off from much of your own potential; with them, your potential can be multiplied by ten, or ten thousand. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world,” Margaret Mead wrote: “it’s the only thing that ever has.” She was referring, whether she knew it or not, to affinity groups. If every individual in every action against the state and status quo participated as part of a tight-knit, dedicated affinity group, the revolution would be accomplished in a few short years.

An affinity group could be a sewing circle or a bicycle maintenance collective; it could come together for the purpose of providing a meal at an occupation or forcing a multinational corporation out of business through a carefully orchestrated program of sabotage. Affinity groups have planted and defended community gardens, built and occupied and burned down buildings, organized neighborhood childcare programs and wildcat strikes; individual affinity groups routinely initiate revolutions in the visual arts and popular music. Your favorite band was an affinity group. An affinity group invented the airplane. Another one maintains this website.

Let five people meet who are resolved to the lightning of action rather than the agony of survival—from that moment, despair ends and tactics begin.


Printable zine version of this article is also available for download.

 

Destruction of Amazon and Google Doorbell Surveillance Cameras

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Dec 092019
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Recently, we went on a nighttime stroll and removed some Google Nest and Amazon Ring doorbell surveillance cameras from a couple residential streets.

These products, which one can easily spot at night by their blue or green ring of light, are popping up more and more in Montreal and elsewhere. The cameras can store recorded video on the cloud for up to 60 days.

It’s been well documented that Amazon is using Ring to build a private surveillance network, fully integrated with police departments, under the guise of combating package theft.

On a positive note, these doorbell cameras make it easy to fight back against the giants of techno-capitalism right in our neighborhoods. They are easily removed with a small crowbar. It’s suggested to have a buddy with you and/or wear electrical insulating gloves as a precaution against the risk of shock from live wires. And be aware that the battery-powered camera may continue recording and transmitting even after being torn from the wall, while it’s still in range of its home wifi network; the user may also receive a notification on their phone.

Fuck Amazon, Google, and their encroaching techno-dystopia.

Fare Distribution Machines Disabled in Montreal Metro

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Dec 032019
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Over the past several days, motivated by an international call for transit fare strikes, the fare distribution machines in several metro stations were disabled by blocking the debit/credit card readers and coin slots.

The STM is continually hiking fares and deploying squads of wannabe-cop “inspectors” to harass, fine, and assault people over $3.50. Currently, the STM is even seeking to give its inspectors expanded powers to detain and arrest people and access police databases. Every effort to maintain and expand policing of people’s movements deserves to be met with resistance. Fortunately, there is no shortage of inspiration from around the world, above all the ongoing revolt in Chile.

These actions were experiments with some simple, effective, and fairly discreet means of sabotageing fare collection and enforcement. At this point in time, the method that gives us the most confidence is to apply super glue to both sides of a random unactivated gift card and insert it fully in the debit/credit card slot, and put more super glue in the coin slot after causing it to open by operating the machine as though you want to pay for a ticket with cash. We hope this technique can be reproduced widely alongside other tactics for taking these machines out of service.

Live free, ride free.

Flyer: When the Police Attack

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Nov 012018
 

Anonymous Submission to MTL Counter-info

The police are in our way. They are in the way of the demo continuing: to the next block, the bank windows downtown, the police station and government offices. They are also blocking our way towards something else: towards a world without bosses, cops, and prisons, as the good old slogan says. But before being in our way, they are first and above all… the police, an institution based on colonization, racism, and the state’s monopoly on violence. We will have no other choice but to confront them as an adversary in each of our struggles.

While demonstrations are not the only moments when we face the cops, they represent an unavoidable context. In demos, the police put everything at their disposal to spread fear among the opponents of power, to control our actions, to injure us and arrest us. In short, they deploy their forces with the goal of dissuading us from pursuing the struggle and changing anything in a real way.

We need to give ourselves the collective ability to defend ourselves. For us, a few Montreal anarchists, we think it’s a matter of spreading knowledge and practices of confrontation and care, while making an effort for groups and individuals who participate differently in the demonstration to work together. Basing ourselves on some recent demos in Montreal, let’s sketch out how different tactics can be used in a coherent way against the cops. There’s space for everyone!

  • Fireworks!
  • Reinforced Banner Crew: A reinforced banner serves multiple functions: it carries a message, it provides concealment (for a place to change clothes, e.g.), and it protects at least the arms of the people carrying it, thanks to pieces of wood and plastic added to its backing. Those carrying the banner are in a vulnerable position, as they often find themselves on the front line. Therefore it’s important to wear helmets and mouthguards. In addition, for their protection each banner holder is paired with another, more mobile person right behind them, who can hold a flag which can be used as a stick.
  • Mask distribution: Wearing a mask not only protects your anonymity – the more people wear masks, the more effective it is as a tactic. Police have a much harder time proving who threw a stone in a masked crowd. Even if you don’t plan on breaking the law yourself, wearing a mask is a great way of being in solidarity with those who do!
  • Graff Crew
  • Medics
  • Projectile gatherers: There are many ways of supporting confrontation with police indirectly! Whether gathering piles of bricks near a confrontation, or encouraging the crowd to stay together and close to the action when things get chaotic.
  • Anti-media team: No matter a journalist’s intention, cameras should be pushed out of rowdy demos – photographs will be used as evidence to put people in cages.
  • Back team: If a demo moves too fast, it can leave behind people who can’t move as quickly. A team at the back of the demo can communicate with people at the front, to find a speed that allows everyone to stay together as long as desired. In addition, cops don’t only enter the demo from the front and sides: a back team could improve the safety of the entire demo.
  • Functional Barricade: Impede the movement of police, while giving us cover to fight behind!

[PDF (en)]

[PDF (fr)]

In the Trenches: Pipeline Sabotage against Enbridge in Hamilton

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Sep 232017
 

From The Hamilton Institute

Pipelines are war; one built from the insatiable greed of corporations which have normalized violence against the land and its living. Our resolve within this struggle intensifies with each audacious assault Enbridge launches; each time they dismiss the concerns and requests of Indigenous Nations. Every court proceeding. Every act of intimidation. Every lie or false claim of safety or necessity. We’ve had enough.

So back when Enbridge started shipping in pipeline segments for their line 10 expansion, we started sabotaging them.

There are vast networks of pipeline infrastructure throughout Turtle Island. They are indefensible; perfect opportunities for effective direct action that harms nothing but an oil company’s bottom line. It’s in this spirit that we found ourselves going for long moonlit strolls through the trenches of the freshly dug line10 right-of-way. Wherever we felt the urge, we drilled various sized holes into pipeline segments while spilling corrosives inside others.

We do this in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of this area. A people who have been displaced, threatened and murdered since early colonial arrivals – who still continue to face this violence. Who suffer the consequences of this colonial capitalist society and the industries which drive it.

So – to Enbridge: You’re gonna want to replace every last section of line 10 that’s been laid out so far. We say this because we care for the environment, and don’t care about you – so take it seriously. And for every dollar you pursue from Indigenous Nations or individuals for defending their territories, we aim to cost you ten. #sorrynotsorry

To the public: It’s up to you to hold Enbridge accountable – in everything they do. Don’t let them risk your lives by installing pipelines they now know to be compromised. Don’t let them risk lives by installing pipelines, period.

And lastly, but not least, to our comrades and co-conspirators:

A How-To from the heart

You’ll need 1 a decent cordless drill, 2 a good smaller-gauge cobalt or titanium drill bit – preferably with a pilot point, and 3cutting oil. [Oh, the irony!]

With a righteous sense of adventure, prove your stealth ninja skills by getting into the right-of-way. Once you’re in there you’re pretty invisible from the road so long as you’re not fluorescent, adorned in glitter of fucking around with a headlamp too much. Take a breath, take a look, and then find your way to an empty pipeline and start drilling! Go slow [so there’s less noise, reverberation, and friction] and apply enough pressure so that you see metal shavings coming up – and then keep at it for 10 to 15 minutes. Cutting oil will help the process along by keeping the drill tip cool and effective.

Have fun. Stay safe.
And get the fuck out there!

Arson of two luxury cars in St-Henri

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Sep 082017
 


Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Inspired by the riots in Hamburg, we burned two luxury cars outside of a condo in St-Henri during the night of July 13. In a neighbourhood where people have to choose between food and rent, don’t be surprised when we set fire to your flagrant displays of class privilege.

We used a simple method: fire sticks half-covered in fire-paste. All the material can be found in a camping store. We lit the fire-paste covered end and placed it in the top corners of the car’s grill, between the headlights. We used two sticks per car. The fire is mostly invisible until plastic or motor oil catches fire, giving you time to leave unseen. Be careful: the fire can easily spread to cars parked close-by.

The police who violently enforce gentrification had these encouraging words to say:
“[Montreal police Cmdr. Sylvain Parent] said police have increased their visibility in the neighbourhood in response to the attacks, but it’s hard to stop people who want to commit crimes. “If there’s someone who wants to do something and they see a police officer pass, they’ll wait until we pass by,” he said. “If they really want to do something, they’ll do it anyway.”

Until next time,
Black Masked Winners (BMW) / Anarchistes Uni.es Dans l’Insurrection (AUDI)

How to make molotovs!

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Sep 042017
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
Disclaimer: This video is intended purely for informational purposes only, and does in no way encourage or condone any illegal activity.

We think that it’s important for confrontational tactical knowledge to be widespread for the coming storms of revolt. Confrontational tactics can make us safer, because the police become afraid. We need to be careful when playing with fire, but with care, molotovs can greatly increase our power in the streets.

Ingredients:

Empty 500ml beer bottles
Gloves
Gasoline
Motor oil
Funnel
Gauze or strips of t-shirt
Duct tape

Never touch any of your materials without gloves, to avoid transferring fingerprints.

First, fill the beer bottle half-way with a mixture of 2/3 gasoline and 1/3 motor oil. Adding motor oil makes the fire burn longer and bigger. Leaving empty space in the bottle makes it fill with gas-fumes, which will make the molotov more explosive.

For the fuse (shirt or gauze), tie a knot that will fit in the entrance to the bottle, 1 inch from the top. The fuse should reach the gasoline. If you turn the bottle upside down, the knot should hold. Use duct-tape to make the opening more air-tight, because gasoline evaporates.

For larger molotovs, you can use a wine bottle that has a cap you can twist back on. Perrier works too.

Beer-bottle molotovs can be transported in the packaging. Seal them in a garbage bag to diminish the smell of gasoline, and to keep them clean of fingerprints.

It’s safest to not wait more than 30 seconds to throw after the molotov is lit.

Stay safe! Stay fierce!

How to: fill fire extinguishers with paint

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Jun 292017
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
Disclaimer: This video is intended purely for informational purposes only, and does in no way encourage or condone any illegal activity.

Fire extinguishers filled with paint have been useful to anarchists in Montreal fighting gentrification, surveillance, and most recently, colonial advertising.

1. Steal the extinguisher

Find a water-pressurized fire extinguisher. They are metallic silver and come in two sizes.

Both sizes have removable tops, which are often attached with a nut.

The larger size is 9 L and has a schrader valve, like your bike tire, so that they can be easily repressurized. It is often found in universities, apartments and office buildings.

The smaller size is 6 L and needs to be repressurized with an air compressor. It is only found in restaurants because they are for grease fires, and are sometimes conveniently placed near the back exit!

2. Empty the water

Wear cotton gloves to avoid getting your prints all over the thing. Spray the water out of the fire-extinguisher, ensuring that the pressure gauge reaches 0 psi. We usually do this in an alleyway, but it can be done in your bathtub.

3. Fill with paint

Remove the nut and top section.

Fill the extinguisher about half way with a mixture of equal parts latex paint and water.

4. Pressurize

Reattach the top section, and make sure it’s tight.

For the 9 L, pressurize with a bike pump until the gauge reads 100 psi.

For the 6 L, there is no schrader valve, so you will need an air compressor, found at hardware stores or most pawn-shops. Remove the hose, and connect the air compressor tubing, using a 3/8” male adapter.

Set the air compressor to 115 psi. You may not even need to depress the handle of the extinguisher for the pressure to slowly raise to 100 psi. If you need to depress the handle, remove the safety pin and depress it gradually. Stop as soon as it reaches 100 psi, to avoid paint going into the tubing.

Return the safety pin and secure it with duct-tape.

5. Clean

Wipe down with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol to remove any fingerprints!

Check out the how-to page at Montreal Counter-info for more direct action guides: blocking trains, shutting down pipelines, demonstrations, riots and more!

“The only reason why we should reach to the higher class is to create disorder and disturb, but certainly not to corrupt graffiti like some people do. My goal is to install the insolence and violence of graffiti where it has no reason to be. Graffiti is a whole, and one cannot only take the parts he is interested in. The remaining parts can be found on your storefronts.”

A recipe for nocturnal direct actions!

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May 172017
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

[For reading]
[For printing, 11”x17”]

“Direct action, simply put, means cutting out the middleman: solving problems yourself rather than petitioning the authorities or relying on external institutions. Any action that sidesteps regulations and representation to accomplish goals directly is direct action—it includes everything from blockading airports to helping refugees escape to safety and organizing programs to liberate your community from reliance on capitalism.”

A Step-by-Step Guide to Direct Action: What It Is, What It’s Good for, How It Works

We believe that the greatest barriers to participating in direct actions are social ones: finding comrades to build affinity groups takes time, patience, and trust (see How to Form an Affinity Group: The Essential Building Block of Anarchist Organization). This recipe assumes that you already have people who you can get mischievous with.

Before we had ever done a night-time direct action, we felt hesitant to begin. We had no one to teach us the basics, and feared making stupid, easily preventable mistakes. For that reason, we want to share several logistical tips that we feel may be helpful in carrying out these actions.

Legal disclaimer: All information contained in this publication is for educational purposes only, and does not condone or encourage any illegal activity.

1. The secret is to begin

First, you need to choose the target of your direct action and what tactic you will use. Although this could vary widely, for this recipe we’ll use the classic example of smashing out the windows of a gentrifying business in an urban neighbourhood.

Think about what the action will communicate to people you’ve never met – from possible accomplices to the most passive citizen. What possibilities might this communication open up? For example, the numerous smashings of luxury businesses in Hochelaga and St. Henri over the past years have communicated a resistance to gentrification, have spread signals of disorder (see Signals of Disorder: Sowing Anarchy in the Metropolis) that visibilize how anarchists are fighting back against social control, and in some cases, have contributed to such businesses having to close up shop.

There are introductions to ‘security culture’ available elsewhere (see What is Security Culture?), but here we’ll just say to do all of your planning in person, with people you trust, outside of houses and with no phones present (both being vulnerable to police surveillance).

When we started getting our hands dirty, we found it helpful to first get comfortable with less risky activities like graffiti or wheatpasting posters, practicing the same communication habits we would later apply in attacks. This helps us become acquainted and feel more comfortable with our ability to act in stressful conditions (encounters with police, evasion, etc.) and our relationships with each other.

2. Scouting

Scout the target ahead of time; look for the safest entrance route and exit route, prioritizing paths with fewer cameras (alleys, woods, bike-paths, train-tracks, residential areas). If you use bolt-cutters to cut a hole in a fence, will that open more possibilities? Have fun subverting the urban organization of space designed for social control to your purposes of social war.

Be discrete; don’t point at the cameras you want to smash, or walk in circles around the target. Decide where to position lookouts (if you think you need them), posted up smoking at bus stops that aren’t on camera, for instance. How will they be communicating with those doing the direct action: hand signals, inconspicuous shouts of random names to signify different situations, walkie-talkies, flashlights, burner phones (see Burner Phone Best Practices)?

It helps to know what the traffic patterns are like at the time you’ll be acting. How busy is foot traffic? Where is the closest police station, and what are the most patrolled streets? Doing the action on a rainy night at 3 am means there will be fewer witnesses, but also fewer people to blend in with afterwards when police might be combing the area, so sometimes closer to midnight will make more sense. Once you’ve gained confidence in nocturnal actions, maybe you’ll want to experiment with day-time actions that are more visible to passersby and thus harder for the authorities to invisibilize, like the looting of the yuppie grocery store in St. Henri last year. Leave at least a week or two between scouting your target and the action because that’s the average amount of time it takes for surveillance footage to be overwritten.

3. Fashion decisions! (and other prep)

Wear two layers of clothing; a casual layer for the action that includes a hood and hat, and a different layer underneath so that you don’t match any suspect descriptions. Blend in with the character of the area; it doesn’t make sense to dress like a punk in a yuppie neighbourhood, but it does make sense to be in flashy jogging gear if you’re going to be running down a bike-path. Baggy clothing can help to disguise body characteristics. A hat and hood will keep you relatively anonymous during your approach – most cameras are pointed from above, so your face will be mostly obscured when you’re looking down.

You can pull up a full mask for the last few blocks and the action itself (see Quick Tip: How to Mask Up). Depending on the terrain and where cameras are located, you may afford to wait until right before the action to mask up to avoid arousing suspicion preemptively.

Expect to be seen on camera during the action. Don’t get too paranoid about cameras in the surrounding area – a standard CCTV camera has poor resolution in the dark, if police even bother to get the footage before it’s overwritten automatically. All surfaces of any tools you’ll be using should be thoroughly wiped with rubbing alcohol ahead of time to remove fingerprints, and cotton gloves should be used during the action (leather and nylon will retain your fingerprints on the inside). Do not take your cell phone, or if you must, remove the battery; it geo-locates even when powered off.

Make a plan in case a good citizen intervenes, or starts following you to call the police. Dog-mace has worked wonders for us, but if that feels too intense as an immediate response, being verbally confronted by a masked group is enough to deter most people.

4. It’s witching hour

Once lookouts are in their locations and they give the agreed upon starting signal, take a final glance around, and go for it! For breaking the windows of a gentrifying business, bring enough rocks for several windows, aim for the bottom corners, and make sure you’re finished up within, say, thirty seconds of the first crashing glass pane. If you also want to put glue in the locks, paint-bomb the sign (see Paint bombs: light bulbs filled with paint), pull down the cameras (see the tips in Camover Montreal), write a graffiti message (in blocky ALLCAPS to hide hand-style particularities), or anything else that’s relatively quiet, do this before you make a kerfuffle breaking the windows, or plan for an extra friend to do it simultaneously.

Ditch everything including your top layer of clothing at the soonest appropriate place along your exit route – cops have lights that will reveal glass shards on clothing (more of a problem if you use hammers than rocks). Find creative hiding spots ahead of time to ditch anything you don’t want found, but as long as your materials and clothing are free of fingerprints it shouldn’t matter. The exception to this is arson tactics, where DNA forensics are more likely to be used, in which case you may want to take everything with you in a backpack and dispose of it farther away.[1. A note on DNA forensics: a basic principle is to never touch (or otherwise contaminate with hair, sweat, skin cells, dandruff, saliva, etc.) anything you’ll be leaving behind, because unlike fingerprints, DNA can’t be scrubbed off. Surgical gloves (sold at many drugstores) used with ‘sterile technique’ (learned on youtube) can allow you to manipulate materials without contaminating them once they leave their packaging. This should be accompanied by securing hair under a tight-fitting hat or swimming cap, a surgical mask to prevent airborne saliva, and wearing a long-sleeved shirt you’ve never worn that goes under your gloves (or even better, painter’s coveralls used for mold and asbestos removal). Work on a raised surface so that you don’t have to be bent over your materials. Have a second person (taking the same precautions) drop materials out of their packaging and onto your ‘sterile field’ (you can use a newly opened shower curtain, for instance), so that once you’re sterile you don’t contaminate your gloves with packaging you may have touched. To transport your materials, seal them in a garbage bag.]

Ideally, even if you are detained by police on your way out, you’ll have nothing on you that they can use to connect you to the crime. Know your story of why you’re in the neighbourhood, or be ready to remain silent because if they find evidence to contradict your story, it can be used against you in court, while your silence can’t be held against you. When arrested in Quebec, you only have to give the police three pieces of information: your name, date of birth, and address (this may differ in other places; it may be useful to be knowledgeable of local laws before carrying out any illegal action).

Once you’re arrested, saying anything else will do more harm than good. After providing the above three pieces of information, you can repeat the following phrase: “I have nothing more to say. I want to speak to a lawyer”. (If things go south, check out How to Survive a Felony Trial: Keeping Your Head up through the Worst of It. In Montreal, get in touch with the Contempt of Court collective for help with legal representation.)

A typical police response (if there even is one – often times vandalism is only discovered the next morning) will involve police first going to the scene of the crime, maybe taking the time to ask possible witnesses if they saw anything, then driving around the surrounding streets looking for possible suspects. If you get out of the immediate area quickly, you’ll avoid all of this. Hiding can be a viable option if something goes awry and leaving as planned looks risky – backyards, corners of driveways, rooftops, bushes, etc. can all be helpful in waiting it out.

5. Sweet dreams!

Consider using a bike to get out of the area quickly – you can have it locked a short jog away. Bikes can be disguised with new handlebars and saddles, black hockey-tape on the frame, removing identifying features, or an all-black paint job.

It’s best to avoid using cars if possible – a license plate is far easier to identify than a hooded figure on a bike. But if you must because the location is too difficult to get to otherwise, be careful. You could park a bike-ride away in an area that’s not on camera. Be dressed totally normally when entering the car. Take back roads and know your way around. Don’t use cars that may be already known to police, in case they have been tagged with a GPS surveillance device, and don’t use a rental (in part why Roger Clement got caught for arsoning an RBC branch against the Vancouver Olympics).

Rest well knowing that you’ve fucked up a small part of this fucked up world.

Check out How to safely submit communiques if you want to claim the action! Also check out this How-to page for more direct action guides: blocking trains, shutting down pipelines, demonstrations, riots, and more!

How To: Wheatpaste

 Comments Off on How To: Wheatpaste  Tagged with:
Feb 162017
 

Wheatpasting is a simple, dirt-cheap way of spreading ideas, news, analyses, and creative expression outside of (and against) the pacified modes made available by the institutions that control and mangle our lives. Let’s reclaim, together, the means of expression from the media, Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, and everything else that reduces us to mere observers of life. Poetry is in the streets!

WHAT YOU NEED
•1 cup of flour
•2 cups of water
•Stove or hotplate
•A pot or pan
•A large paintbrush
•A bucket or container
•Flyers that you want to put up
•Latex gloves (if you don’t wanna walk around with drippy hands)

(OR, you can use a gallon of pre-made “wallpaper paste,” which can be bought cheaply at hardware stores. If you do this, you can skip these first three directions.)

DIRECTIONS
•Mix the 1 cup of flour with 2 cups of water together in a pan and stir until there are no lumps.
•Heat the mixture by boiling it until it thickens.
•Cook for about half an hour, and then let it cool.
•Put the wheatpaste solution into a container, grab a paintbrush, some flyers, and head out into the night. Keep in mind that wheatpasting is not “legal” and therefore, it is best to go late at night and avoid being seen by cops.
•When you locate a visible, non-porous surface like metal or glass, use the paintbrush to apply the wheatpaste to either the back of the flyer or the surface itself and smooth the flyer down so there are little or no air bubbles. Put some more wheatpaste on the front of the flyer (especially the edges) to secure it to the surface.

 

Print PDF here, for making two-sided posters that have this short instructional guide on the back.

Source: Plain Words