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When not to run: Protest advice from a Street Medic

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
flashbangs  and tear gas are used by the SPVM with a helicopter overhead. contre sommet manif feb/2012
flashbangs and tear gas are used by the SPVM with a helicopter overhead. contre sommet manif feb/2012

Some of us are familiar with the clack-clack-clack of batons on riot shields and the boot-to-pavement double-step. We have heard the crack of flashbangs overhead and felt the sting of teargas.

We all know there can be terrifying moments during an action, but here are some reasons not to run when the police charge:

1) It’s fucking dangerous. People panic. Twist ankles. Fall. Get pushed. Trampled. Let’s stop putting ourselves in danger and keep our effing heads, k?

2) Running in panic can send you – and others following you – straight into a trap. Inattentional blindness isn’t just a term, it’s a reality.

3) It feeds into a natural animalistic prey/predator mentality, empowering the people chasing (the cops!) and disempowering the ones fleeing (us!). Stop fucking empowering the cops and empower yourselves! Develop a tactical mind and organize. SAFELY.

4) This one is blunt. Some will disagree, but: If you’ve taken the street, be prepared to defend and keep the street! À nous la rue! Don’t just say it – live it! Actions over words!

Unless the retreat is tactical (a decision that has to be made consciously and free of fear or panic by those participating) it’s cowardice or panic and a result of fear. You are allowing the police to set the terms instead of setting them yourself; stop playing their games and following their rules! Overcome your fear, and they will no longer control you.

5) If you run, you leave behind your comrades that ARE willing to stand up for (y)our rights! You are sacrificing them for you instead of standing together – as one – in a position where we are stronger. Where is the solidarity?

This is not to say you cannot leave, ever (clearly everyone has a different level of comfort and commitment) but understand your limits and leave accordingly. Don’t run home in panic! Leave with the peace of mind knowing you have reached your limit for the day and have accomplished what you can.


An afternote:

Not running is hard. Really fucking hard. Most of us are totally guilty of it sometimes, even if just for a few seconds before our brains click and go ‘hey, wait just one effing minute’. But working towards being able to overcome that fear is important.

This won’t be an overnight transition. It will take time and experience, but it will be worth it. I know, because I can imagine the day when we ALL don’t run, but instead hold our ground and face down the state. Together.

Also: This is NOT meant to promote you getting in over your heads! It is SO important to be conscious of your capabilities that day and use them to the best of (y)our advantage! Likewise, it is unfair to participate in certain tactics and then abandon your comrades for the safety of home while leaving them in a dangerous situation as a direct result of YOUR actions! Be mindful!

À nous la rue!

[originally posted at ]

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kai (Trish Mills)
Hamilton and Toronto ON.
Member since March 2013


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