Here is an organizing guide to help you plan your own direct action to stand up for climate justice:
PUTTING THE WORLD AT RISK:
The Canadian government has and continues to fail to address the climate crisis. They continue to wait while millions are dying or becoming displaced due to the climate crisis and have prioritized destructive projects like that tar sands over the fate of humanity. The time for inaction has passed. We can no longer allow our government to wait, stall, or block progress instead we must pressure them to act and push for a just, ambitious, and binding deal that listens to science and is led by the voices of Indigenous communities and those most directly impacted by the climate crisis.
We will soon be less than two weeks before the Copenhagen talks – probably the most important climate talks that have ever taken place. In Copenhagen the Canadian government along with governments around the world must commit to a just, ambitious, and binding deal that listens to science and is led by the voices of Indigenous communities and those most directly impacted by the climate crisis. In the lead-ups to these talks the Canadian government has been seen around the world as one of the largest obstacles to progress, actively blocking any attempts to reach an agreement.
WE MUST CHANGE THIS COURSE!!!
We are hoping that your group will help and join at least 9 other cities in a series of rolling occupations that will take place in 10-different Canadian cities in the 10 working days preceding the Copenhagen climate talks – Nov. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30 Dec. 1, 2, 3, 4 of course dates after that are welcome as well. The idea is to hold a 24-occupation of a government official, climate destroyer, or climate crisis financier in a different city each of those 10 days but we need your help to do it.
This guide is an attempt to help you organize your local group to take action and join this nation-wide effort to push for justice and to take our planet back.
In organizing an occupation/sit-in there are 18 questions or steps that can be addressed by each participating group. This is by no means an exhaustive list but should provide at least an outline for taking action and putting your occupation together.
- WHO ARE YOUR ALLIES?
- We can outreach to other youth and allied groups – ie. faith groups, First Nations, directly impacted community members, and other groups working on climate issues can all be allies in this work.
- Think of the groups in your area that might be willing to join this action directly or be able to support it.
2. WHO IS YOUR TARGET?
- We are hoping to target elected officials, climate crisis financiers (ie. banks), or climate destroyers (ie. shell/exxon) in at least 10 different cities with a different person in a different city being targeted each of the 10 working days before Copenhagen.
- Possible considerations for choosing your target could include:
- Degree of influence in meeting demand.
- Did they support Kyotoplus or Bill C-311? http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/campaigns/kyotoplus/pledge/red-list-mps#m_top
- Do they fund climate destruction/tar sands projects?
- Are they actively involved in escalating the climate crisis?
- Location (is it visible? Easy to access?)
- Popularity – is your company/official well know by the public?
- Distance from you and/or accessibility?
3. WHAT ARE THE DEMANDS OF YOUR ACTION:
- Every group should come up with what their own demands our for their action. Bellow is a brief suggestion you may want to consider:
- We want climate justice! Our government can no longer stall while millions are displaced or will die due to the climate crisis. We want them to commit to a just, ambitious, and binding deal that listens to science and is led by the voices of Indigenous communities and those most directly impacted by the climate crisis.
4. WHAT ARE YOUR RESOURCES?
- We have a network of young people across the nation that understand the urgency of acting to stop the climate crisis.
- Depending on the nature of the sit-in and the length that each group decides they will organize to stay will determine what resources are needed.
- All groups when thinking about resources should remember to consider food and water needs, bathroom needs (diapers, pee buckets), ways to contact media, informational needs for public and press, action needs (locks, chains, signs), dress etc.
5. DECIDE WHAT TACTIC TO USE?
- The recommended tactic is to use sit-ins or office occupations.
6. CHOOSE A DATE:
- Each group needs to decide their date of their action. It would be great if groups were able to select their date as quickly as possible and circulate it to email@example.com. We are also hoping that people can be potentially flexible in their dates as we are hoping to have actions on every single working day in the lead-up to Copenhagen.
- The dates we are working around are Nov. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30 Dec. 1, 2, 3, 4 of course after the summit begins is always good as well.
7. CHOOSE YOUR TONE:
- The tone of the action should be peaceful and calm but should also convey the seriousness of the climate issue.
- It’s best to agree on how you’re going to behave at the action site so you know what to expect from your group members. Some guidelines we recommend you follow are those used at the WTO actions in Seattle, Nov. 30, 1999.
- 1) We will use no violence, physical or verbal towards any person
- 2) We will carry no weapons
- 3) We will not bring or use any alcohol or illegal drugs
- 4) We will not destroy property
8. DO A SCOUT:
- Try to scout your location at least a week before hand preferably on the day and time that you are considering deploying your action. This will give you a good idea of the dress of people that attend the office, traffic, security response, visibility etc.
- You may want to do a secondary scout the day of your action just to ensure that nothing has changed ie. Security increased.
9. MAKE AN ACTION PLAN:
- Think through the action from start to finish. Assign action roles, make a time schedule, list supplies and equipment needed, finalize logistics. Make backup plans just in case!
10. ASSIGN ROLES:
- Exact roles will differ depending on the nature of the action but here are some good roles to think about:
- Organizer: does what it takes to make this action happen. Recruits, inspires and supports people to participate in the action and beyond. Holds people accountable to doing their tasks. Often helps sets up decision making structure and helps organize meetings.
- Scout: Someone that scouts the location before the action providing the logistic information for carrying it out.
- Artists: make and support others to make art, such as banners, picket signs and puppets.
- Transport: Self-explanatory, really – many actions need vehicles, and vehicles need drivers, map-readers, and places to park. In most cases drivers will need to avoid arrest, so they can drive people home as well.
- Jail Support: Stays somewhere safe and away from the action, next to a phone. They should have all pertinent information about each member of the group such as their name, if they want someone contacting if they’re arrested, and if so who, etc. They take calls from the police station and from legal observers, and co-ordinate post-arrest support, which might involve tracking down anyone who was arrested, ensuring that a solicitor knows they’re in custody, and picking people up from police stations on their release. They should have access to transport to reach all the police stations in the area, and know how to get to them. They might take snacks, cigarettes, water – whatever people will want when they are released.
- Legal Observer: Stays on the fringes of the action and is responsible for responding to calls from those taking part in the action if the police are being unreasonable or are making arrests. They should take detailed notes of interactions with police including names of anyone arrested, police badge numbers, what took place and exactly when. They can also help police station support people by finding out which police station arrested activists are being taken to, and what charge they’ve been arrested on. A camera or video recorder can be helpful. Being a legal observer is no guarantee of immunity from arrest.
- Police Liaison: Conveys information and demands between the police and the group. Ideally your police liaison will be articulate, calm, and able to communicate diplomatically with the police. They can try to de-escalate the situation as much as possible to avoid police over-reaction. It’s important that the group give the police liaison a clear mandate. Are they empowered to take decisions for the group? In most cases they are not the group’s decision maker, and it helps to communicate this clearly to the police early on. They can facilitate the decision making process though (and slow down the police response) by acting as a go-between and consulting all activists, then reporting back the decision to the police. Like observers, they aren’t immune from arrest!
- Media Liaison: Helps facilitate the interactions between the group and the media. They prepare news releases and make calls to get the desired media on site at the time of the action. They should know the issues and be able to speak clearly and articulately to reporters and TV cameras. Media work is often split into two distinct roles‚ background media work (writing and sending news releases) and the spokesperson on site.
- Medic: The more people who know medical care of any kind the better, but in many types of action it is wise to have at least one person who knows basic first aid.
- Direct Support: Provides direct personal support for arrestable people. This person may risk arrest, but tries to void it. Depending on the nature of the action this means bringing water and food supplies to action participants and keeping everyone high-spirited and informed. Activists may be scattered over a wide area, and action support is vital in keeping them in touch with the overall progress of the action. They might also be needed to carry messages and facilitate group decision making. For actions involving lock-downs it is best to have at least one support for every two people risking arrest.
- Action Participants: Quite simply the people carrying out the actual action (climbing, locking down, sitting down Medic – An affinity group may want to have someone who is a trained street medic who can deal with any medical or health issues during the action.
- Photographer: Takes photos. Someone (or the photographer) uploads them to a website and gets them to the media.
- Videographer: Takes footage. The videographer can choose to remain on site and hand off the video footage to a support person who creates copies of the tape and delivers them to television stations. The videographer can create a short video following the event to distribute via youtube in order to inspire other people.
- Lawyer: helps reduce or dismiss the charges placed on people as a result of the action. The lawyer represents the person at court. It is best to retain a lawyer before the action. Lawyers often work for free if asked.
11. GET A LEGAL ASSESSMENT:
Consult a friendly lawyer in the city and find out about potential charges and repercussions. Talk in the hypothetical. If you do not know of a friendly lawyer consult with other groups regarding potential charges. Or contact a legal aid society in your city.
Generally for this type of peaceful action charges could likely be:
- Trespassing – this is not a criminal code offence. It is like a parking ticket and will not result in a criminal record it is generally a fine in most jurisdictions but is different province to province.
- Mischief – this is a criminal code offence for interfering with the ‘use and enjoyment of property’.
12. DEVELOP A MEDIA STRATEGY:
13. MAKE YOUR VISUALS AND AUDIO:
14. PRACTICE THE ACTION:
15. PERMORM THE ACTION:
17. DEBRIEF THE ACTION:
18. FOLLOW UP: