Introduction To Swarming
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ABOUT THIS TRAINING
Note: This training is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Laws and procedures vary by city, state and country. Consult local activists and attorneys for more precise information relevant to your area.
This training is an introductory course to swarming, a nonviolent direct action strategy to blocking the streets. This information was provided by Extinction Rebellion and modified for NooWorld.
This training is a 3 Minute read.
In street protests in which riot police go against protestors, the logic says that protestors are not going to win because riot police have all the advantages. The advantages a protestor does have at a street protest are speed and swarming. The idea is to get a lot of people to make protests and break the law in the city. The swarming variant of this is to have people in small groups moving around a city blocking the roads. Some of the big advantages of mass participation are that it is open and inclusive.
SWARMING AS NON VIOLENT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
What does swarming mean in the context of non-violent civil disobedience?
You don’t have to be in face-to-face contact with the opposition. When police or security forces are approaching, you can retreat, regroup, and go somewhere else.
A face-to-face contact scenario is to go on a road, sit on a crossing, and stay there until the police come and drag you off.
STYLES OF BLOCKING THE ROAD:
- Style of the pollution campaigns in London - stay on the road for approximately seven minutes. Retreat when the lights change to red so the cars are still there. The lights change to green and the cars move forward. Move onto the road again when the lights change to red.
- Stay there until the police come - Once police start removing someone from the road, everyone calmly gets up, heads off in various directions, and regroups in another nearby location, and blocks the road again.
- Scouts - Have scouts at the end of the road. When scouts see police come around the corner, everyone gets up, disappears in the crowd, and blocks the road somewhere else.
RULES OF SWARMING
Swarming requires nonviolent discipline and organization, but only organization within a particular group. Swarming is not a top-down approach.
The basic rules of swarming:
- be respectful towards passerby, drivers, and police
- maintain non-violent discipline
- get up when the opposition is about to take you down
- go around the corner and do it again.
This can work for several thousand people.
KEY PARTS OF THE CITY
Vulnerable to being blocked and fastest way to shutting down a city:
Block the bridges: Blocking bridges will close the city in half. You can usually estimate that if you are blocking a very busy street, the cars will go back about a kilometer every ten minutes. In some regions, you will be able to see this on Google Maps.
Block the exit to a roundabout: Blocking the exit to roundabout blocks both the roundabout and all the approach roads. Blocking during rush hour has an exponential effect on the city.
Tip: make sure everyone is wearing normal clothes so that they can disappear into the crowd. You don’t want to be indistinguishable from other people who are walking around.
Swarming in action from Extinction Rebellion Deutschland
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