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Formations may be employed to disperse, contain, move or block large numbers of people examples; columns, skirmish lines, wedges, half-step movements, and controlled rushes: “The use of formations is particularly effective when attempting to disperse crowds in urban areas because they enable the police to split a crowd into smaller segments” (Narr, Toliver).To protect officers particularly in line formations other officers will be sent to protect these officers blind spots and behind them. Scouts may be sent to nearby rooftops, helicopters may also be used (Narr, Toliver).

Communicate: Tell the cop your action is legal, ask what law you’re breaking, ask how you’re breaking it (Remember that the police will not necessarily be truthful);

  1. State that you have right to protest
  2. Demand to see their superior officer
  3. Bring vocal attention to violent, harassing cops (i.e. get crowd to shout “shame, shame” while pointing at cop).
  4. If there is an injunction, ask for copies of it. The injunctions must show if there were any specific time and place restrictions.

TACTIC: The French CRS‘s tactics against a long demonstration march is to attack it at several points and chop it into segments, rather than to merely try to block it at its front end.

COUNTER TACTIC: Safety cannot always be found in numbers. When in a narrow street with mass people rushing a barricade, most of the people are left standing helpless because they cannot reach the front line. At this point if there is enough people to span a block or more it may be wise to spilt into two marches both with shielded walls. The more the police force is thinned and the greater they are caught off guard and confused the better chance at success. “Because the police are restricted to following ranking officers and their commands (at least while maneuvering) if your march splits while the shadowing police force only has one officer among itself, it cannot break in two to follow both groups.”

Defense Tactics

TACTIC: Police will seal roads and other exits to contain protesters in a single area (known as kettling) to prevent widespread damage and wait until the protesters tire.

COUNTER TACTIC: “The main question is then, when can you split? A good rule of thumb for safety with a march is that there are enough people to cover slightly more than one city block. This is necessary to prevent being boxed in from two intersections at once. If numbers are double this, than splitting up is not only feasible but a very smart move. Also, keep in mind that the odds of getting boxed in a trap are greatly lessened when there are, say, three marches walking along different streets as the police have far more repositioning to do and are probably spread too thin if they didn’t expect your move. Multiple shield walls roaming a city also provide far better coverage for affinity groups that may wish to perform more dangerous operations.”

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TACTIC: Police will arrange themselves in a square formation with a command team at the center. The command team is protected on all four sides by echelons of troops deployed in groups of 10 or 12 officers. There is also an arrest team at the center of the square.

If a threat suddenly appears in a different direction, the echelon facing that direction is designated the front of the unit. The entire team can change direction without a lot of reorganizing. If a section is under attack, the whole team does not move together. One echelon moves at a time while the others provide covering fire or an actual physical screen using riot shields.

As the officers move forward into a crowd, they push at anyone who doesn’t respond to verbal requests to move away by. If they still refuse to move, the unit continues moving forward, but the front line opens up and passes around the protesters. Once the specific people are inside the square, the unit stops and the arrest team processes the rioters. The front line closes and the unit can continue moving.

COUNTER TACTIC: (From Occupy Portland).  If the police attempt to box in a crowd whether at a demonstration or while Occupying a space, do not stay and hold ground. Pack up and organize as quickly as possible and star moving. The cops will have no place to form a line. They have to wait for orders and are in heavy gear slowing them down. The cops would litterarly have to chase down and beat protestors to stop the. If the police do not know where the crown is headed they cannot set up road blocks and become more disorganized.

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TACTIC: Barriers: Metal inter-locked barriers are the typical means of blockading marches by the police.

COUNTER TACTIC: If individual police officers are allowed into protester lines, they will begin arresting and beating those particulars. A shield wall that is maintained can save scores – but always remain wary of being boxed in at such times.

Shields: One handed easier to maneuver, 2 handed more protection

With any style of handles you use, remember that you will want to either wear thick gloves, or make sure that your knuckles have some clearance. Once the shield gets hit, your knuckles will be receiving the brunt of the blows.

If police are present behind the barrier and safe from an advance, the shield wall should advance close enough so that people reaching from within the wall can pull it down. If the police resist the movement of a barrier, persons in the shield wall should try to advance so that their shields extend over the barriers protecting hands that are pulling it down and knocking away those of the police. Supplies:

Bolt cutters to cut through fences. Ropes, chains, and grappling hooks to pull down fences.

Mattresses, furniture pads or heavy blankets to lay on top of barbed wire during breaching. Balloons filled with paint to use as “bombs”.

Historically, retreating armies suffer the worst losses. The same is true in demonstrations when people break and run in fear.

The shield wall then in the frontline must act to play rear guard, which can be done by walking backwards at a good pace. If needed, a one-armed shield holder can brace him or herself by grabbing the arm of the person next to them “Hold the line!”. If the entire crowd is in danger or panicking, tell everyone to link arms or sit down.

If retreating is necessary pull down barricades, trash cans or any other barriers behind to block the police from following.

If police use any Rubber bullets or like weapons: Steak out exits/cover, make sure that there is another person or object between you and the shooters.  If you are walking, walk behind another person, and if standing, try to take cover.  If you see the person in front of you going down, then you need to find cover fast. When it comes to running away, always run in zig-zags. 

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When the Police Advance

“Assigning a member of the control force to photograph faces of crowd members is an extremely effective part of monitoring. When individuals in crowds realize they are being photographed, security forces neutralize the anonymity that adds to their brazenness. Crowd members need to see the photographer. The photographer needs to be in uniform. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that individuals in the crowd are being photographed (still or video) by the control force. Ensure the safety of the photographer. Should the mob turn violent, photographic evidence can be remarkably beneficial.”

COUNTER TACTIC: To prevent being identified or arrested on the way home from an action you can either try to dress the same as everyone else (“The idea of wearing this uniform is that if every single person in the Bloc looks relatively alike, it is hard for the police to determine which individual did what”) or dress to were you cannot be identified and find a place to duck into and change afterwards.

Arrests: If an empty bus appears, then you can expect sweep arrests. If a squad of bike police disappeared in another direction, they are probably out to outflank you.

Review of police practices that the mass detention of protestors not actively engaged in violence can create significant problems for law enforcement agencies; criticisms, complaints, negative impact on media image, questions legitimacy, litigation most costly. Few arrested ever appear in court and most are charged with offenses that would not usually warrant an arrest or detention.

Sampling of Mass Arrest and Booking Considerations (Concerns): Booking/processing area, Temporary holding facility, Security, Media issues, Handcuff release devices, Documentation (photo/video/written) of arrests, Arresting peace officer(s) ,Identification of arrestees.

“…We have a very close relationship with our private corporate partners. We have a webbased tool that allows us to send out digital police alerts from our major incident command center to our partners so they can move resources around the downtown corridor.” (Narr, Toliver).

Targeted Individuals

TACTIC: Waiting for large groups to dissipate and often waiting for a­­­­­­­ smaller group often attacking the most dedicated.

COUNTER TACTIC: Stay in large groups. One in, all in. One out, all out. Others?

TACTIC: Targeting Leaders including medics.  “Leadership. Crowd situations are ripe with confusion and uncertainty. Members seek direction. The first person to give orders in an authoritative manner is likely to be followed. A skillful manipulator can channel the energy of a crowd toward violence or calmness. In riot situations, target the group leadership at the early stages for apprehension. Leaderless crowds are much easier to disperse (US Air Forces Manual).

COUNTER TACTIC: Everyone learning and preparing to provide medical care and leadership when needed, constantly change roles and keep cops confused. Others?

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