Not a lot of people know this but I'm a veteran street action organizer.Submitted by Smudge Pot on Fri, 05/09/2014 - 06:48
OH NO NOT ANOTHER SMUDGE POT STORY!
I'm one of this movement's only veteran mass street action organizers. My speciality is security/medial/logistics or what we historically call "marshals".
What history? Who's history? Well ours, but I go back further than the Ron Paul REVOLUTION! And I'll tell you a story.
I activated in 1986. At that time I was a self-identified "libertarian" but in truth I really didn't know what it meant. I'd never heard of Rothbard or Mises or our other formative scholars, I just held the ethic "do what you want, just don't hurt or usurp the liberty of others" and other individualistic ethics. But also at that time, if you had a conservative bone in your body, you were likely in love with the mass-murderer, Ronald Reagan. And leftists were the only visible protest in this land.
Leftist antiwar types were the veteran street activists and mass mobilization experts. I learned from the best in this business. And it's also where I learned some things we bring to mass action: non-violence, non-violent conflict resolution and de-escalation. It's also where I learned that in mass action, professional relationships and liaison with folks like EMS, FD and PD are crucial to operational success. With just a few exceptions like when we did mass infiltration or literal takeovers of areas, building and installations.
Historically, before alt-media and the internet evolved, the single, top strategic objective of mass action was a 2 minute spot on what used to be called "film at eleven." You youngers don't remember this but during the day, on TV, you would see these teasers: "Thousands march in Washington DC, film at eleven." The whole world watched these late night news shows. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and massive volunteer efforts, 6 months of a whole year of planning came down to about 120 seconds on that "film at eleven" and subsequent newspaper coverage. That's how we got "the message" out. I mean, not like it's not cool to take the streets and blow off steam and have fun but without that media coverage, the whole thing was a BIG, FAT WASTE OF TIME.
So, surprisingly perhaps, we maintained professional and cordial relationships with those whom we might ordinarily consider "opposition" and this is police, EMS, FD and whatever government body, be it national, state or local, that we are dealing with.
Yup, in fact, we collaborated with them. We always have and any action I am associated with continues this tradition. First of all, it's called MESSAGE CONTROL. We don't want the MSM making it up for us, we want to spoon feed it to them. And we really, really, really don't want our mass action, which can arrest traffic and commerce in whole cities, to prevent the citizens and innocent bystanders to get hurt. We don't want to hold up the ambulance from patients that need them, we don't want to prevent fire trucks from getting to burning buildings and we don't want police not to be able to protect people that call for their help. We don't want a debacle. We want a positive, productive experience that flows into follow up actions. It's not just about one-finger saluting the establishment, we want to win hearts and minds and get THE MESSAGE across no matter what it is. Anti-war, anti-imperialism, anti-elitism, whatever, we want that message delivererd in a positive way by happy, smiling people that you feel you can trust as a media consumer.
It's still pretty much the same thing now. If we're not communicating in a persuasive way to NOT THE CHOIR then the whole action and all that effort was a waste of time. Now of course we have our own media, we already know everything our speakers are going to say but mass action remains a way to break out of our own box and speak to people that would not ordinarily even know we exist.
A mass action is a show of force. We can disrupt entire cities. We can SHUT THEM DOWN if we want. But security and logistics in this game is about responsibility and not letting things go wrong or....
or we lost the all-important MESSAGE CONTROL.
In message control, the media/press relations team, again, spoon feeds the press the message. All of the other functions of mass action are in a way supportive of the media and press relations team. This team has the press releases, the photo properties, the press packets, they set up a special press area to woo them with tasty treats and cool beverages (mass action usually happen in spring or summer for this reason), we attempt to corral them, we hound their editors weekly before an action, every single day in the week before the action and in fact all day long during the action. You have to understand how news desks work and it's basically this: you want the editor to send any journalist available at that moment to your action and every other team is alerted NOT TO TALK TO THE PRESS and if you see the press talking to anybody but media relations you directly intervene and CARRY THEM BODILY IF NECESSARY to the press relations area.
FILM AT ELEVEN!
OK from here you can just guess there's lots of other teams. You can imagine we need stuff like portapotties (logistics), security (security/logistics), medical capability (people pass out all the time at summer actions and it might be due to an underlying medical condition), I have had people pass out, have actual heart attacks, one time on a long march we actually birthed a child and many other roles. There's the stage and sound crews, these days we have live web streaming crews, there's people managing the speakers and keeping them all ready to go, we have people coordinating lodgings, transport, there's runners carrying messages and this is all just the day of action. There's a ton of behind the scenes prep work.
Remember we liaise with government agencies? Ok for most of these actions we are "pulling permits". Yeah unfortunately in most places we need permits, official permission to be there. Therefore we need action plans which detail what we will do, who is gonna be there, what times we can operate in and for that we submit action plans but we rename them as "event plans". These are detailed down to the level of maps that show where our stages are located, where the all-important portapotties are gonna go (hint: down from prevailing wind), water plans (people need water or they pass out in summer), evac plans (if a shooter shows up, how do we get everybody out of there as fast as possible), legal reps (if anybody is arrested we need to follow up on them and make sure they are not lost), we have lost children, lost parents, lost dogs and cats, lost and found property, all kinds of things we try to manage so OUR PEOPLE ARE SAFE.
This means we are not only liaising with government agencies, for that time we are literal partners working together to insure a safe scene and again, CONTROL THE MESSAGE. Drunks need to be dealt with, crazies and counter-protesters have to be dealt with in a diplomatic manner (they have the right to free speech too) but if you do permitting right, our usual oppisition becomes our protection: we are specifically granted rights to an area for a limited period and if we do it right, they take care of the big problems with us.
So with all these details, the best planners actually plan a year out. With us, we've always been lucky to have 6 months lead time and believe me, that is barely enough time. Event organizers including myself are always UTTERLY EXHAUSTED by the time the action is successfully concluded and the follow up work is done. It really is a mega stress load. The poor MCs and scheduling planners have to play babysitter and diaper changer to all the speakers, all the speakers have demands like....OMG ever time we have done an event with Dr. Paul as a speaker, every other speaker demands to go immediately before or after Dr. Paul, they want 5 start hotel accomodations, in the case of a WELL KNOWN ECONOMIST WE ALL KNOW AND LOVE, he demanded a chauferred limo driver for the whole weekend, they are all a bunch of prima-donnas and I'm glad I don't have to deal with them.
My role is security/logistics. I'm one of this movement's only mass street action security experts because I came to this door with over 20 years experience working events coast to coast. Not all of them overt either, I have many covert and stealth actions under my belt and by the way, opposition knows this, my dossier must be 100 pages long by now. I'm a known "direct activist" but BECAUSE I WAS TAUGHT BY THE BEST, frankly people in the FBI and now DHS might have some confidence in me: they know they are dealing with a forthright person who will partner with them to uphold community safety.
WHAT'S SO COOL ABOUT THE WAY WE DO MASS MOBILIZATION EVENT SECURITY?
First of all, what the lefties taught me are things like "non-violent conflict resolution" and "de-escalation". See in many places we operate, we're not allowed to be armed. Don't even try to bear weapons into a DC action, especially around the White House and Capitol Hill. And in fact the agencies rely on us to get the word out about disarmament: we and they don't want to see us holding sings mounted on wooden platforms, these can be used as weapons, we tell people mount your sings on carboard tubes. Leftists often wear masks to obscure their identiy. We don't encourage this, we want to reassure them that we are ACCOUTNABLE. We tell people not to bring beverages in glass or metal containers, use plastic. We prefer not to use massive banners that can obscure visability, we try not to deply massive sculptures that might conceal bombs, we encourage peopel to be cordial. This is who we are but we make efforts to REASSURE agencies and not amp them up. It goes further.
In what the left has codified as NVA (non-violent action) and NVCD (non-violent civil disobedience) we actually CHOREOGRAPH the action, in other words, you guys say we can't cross this line, we intend to so how are we gonna handle that? How's that gonna work guys? You guys are gonna put up a fence, we're gonna climb over it, you guys are gonna arrest us, how do we keep a perimiter on this area and to what jail are you gonna send us and how are we gonna follow up and get our activists back? Then we train our activist: go ahead and climb over the fence, shout your slogan, make your statement and then SUBMIT PEACEFULLY TO ARREST. Don't worry, we have the leagal team following up, we will get you out. But we want to tell the agencies hey, we're not here to hurt you, we want you officers to end your duty shift and go home in time for dinner with wifey and the kids and not get injured:
WE'RE NOT HERE TO HURT YOU, WE'RE HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE. MESSAGE CONTROL.
Some of you won't be surprised that we hear all the time from cops and agents "we support your right to free speech and protest" and we tell them "we support your right to go home with your ass in one piece and kiss the kids goodnight".
And that, young ones, is where the real work is done. On the streets. Real action, real people, real lives. And the smudge story should end here on this positive note right?
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE!
The non-violent methodologies of de-escalation are great lessons for how we approach security and public interaction but hey, check this out: we have this as a resource (where I am in command) but ADD TO THIS OUR METHODOLOGIES AND GUESS WHO WE ARE?
WARRIORS THAT'S WHAT.
I have often said that our movement encompasses all talent and all skill. If it's neccessary we have it. And we happen to have lots of ex military people, ex law enforcement and what that means is this:
WE DON'T USE MUSCLE IN ACTION. NOT MUCH REALLY BUT IF WE WANT IT, WE GOT IT.
Ho yeah babies, if we need muscle we are muscle. So the training we have evolved and can evolve more is this role of peace keepers and helpers, servants in fact but if push comes to shove? Well don't push unless you want to be shoved. They are big and so are we now. Daddy's little children grew up to be great warriors of account and we don't use violence. We just do what we do. So with this combined training, we are kinda all that and a bag of chips.
This reveals itself as important with issues like the Bundy Ranch debacle where we saw warriors just doing what they do and it's important to understand that our, well not really OUR militias but militias and actual militants we rub elbows with can benefit from our way of doing security. And I'll tell you something right here: the militias rely on their military training. What some seem to have forgot is that the United States Military is at least supposed to be under civilian command of a civillian executive.
The thing here is like a chainsaw. A chainsaw is meant to cut things into two pieces, that's the only thing it's built to do but a chainsaw is incapable of hitting it's own off switch. Left to itself it will run and cut until it runs out of gas.
It takes one of us to hit the kill switch when we want to stop destroying stuff. Chainsaws don't switch themselves off.
If anyone is contemplating direct street action, I now invite you to consult with me. It doesn't mean you have to take my advice, it's doesn't mean you have to do things my way or even involve me but I'm offering my consulting services now. I'm Smudge Pot and I am in service: we serve, that's what we do.
Don't hesitate to get in touch.
With that I conclude with the assurance that we love you. No less than the warriors at Bundy Ranch were ready to lay down their lives for you on the spot and still do, no less do us peace keepers and marshals. Perhaps a bit more because we are ALWAYS UNDER AUTHORITY and it is our pride to come when we are called and go where we are sent, aho. Take these words and this logic and accept the many decades of experience it represents. I have personally trained 143 of you with the help of other trained warriors like Daniel Faubion, Bigshow and Catherine Bliesh. Each of us us orered to listen for the sound of the bell when it rings. When the bell rings, we come and we serve. We are no less warriors, we just use a more wide range of weapons and many of our weapons are instruments of healing.
Aho. It has been a great honor to protect you. And to raise a new generation of peace warriors. The greatest honor I have ever had in my life. And I'm ready for more. And we love you and this is why we do as we do.
Mitakuye Oyasin. I am Smudge Pot.