Role plays and brain-storming
The police train all the time to confront and control protesters. Medics train as well. So protesters should also train to counter police tactics, and to ensure their direct-actions are more effective.
How do protesters and medics train?
The most effective and most enjoyable way is to do role plays, and practice some of your technical activities and tactics. After each role play, debrief with the five questions we list below. Practice expected or worst case scenarios and then you can troubleshoot the problems, and enhance the possibilities.
It is amazing how quickly role place with proper debriefing teach us how to understand and act effectively in situations that previously seemed chaotic and downright scary. We have seen participants in role plays quickly go from being clueless scared victims of police tactics, to being pro-active, taking counter-measures to protect themselves from the tactics, carry out their objectives for the demonstration, and most of all, enjoying their actions.
Medics set up a scene where there are medics, protesters and police. Protesters may be yelling or injured or panicking. Police may be attacking. Medics have to treat the injured in a highly charged environment.
Protesters planning direct action or just confronting hostile police, can experience why protesting together in groups is much more effective than working individually. With a group, you can determine a common purpose, work for each other, and assign different roles for members to be scouts, communications team, tactical team and support.
Start with a simple role play scenario, and then try more complex ones as people start learning how to be more effective.
The person running a role play scenario briefs each group separately, (and sometimes 'undercover' individuals separately) as to what their role and attitude is, and how they might try to fuck-over the other group.
After the roleplay scenario is finished, we then go through the 5 Question Group Debriefing (see below). You debriefing objective is to point out protester and police dynamics, understand their tactics, think creatively, troubleshoot, and test options to keep effective despite opposition.
Take some difficult examples that confounded you or your group previously and go over them again.
-The police not calling or letting an ambulance through, and your injured patient must get to a hospital quickly.
-Protesters with different objectives, tactics, organizations, etc. at the same demonstration working at cross purposes.
- There is a new fence that needs to come down. How can that happen? What skills and equipment will you need?
-Disaster strikes you demo, you have a severely injured patient and not enough medics and/ or adequate supplies. The police are advancing. Tear gas and rocks are flying everywhere. Your cell phones are dead.
-There is a riot going on, people are getting injured and also captured, and the medics are divided about their willingness to risk arrest.
- 5,000 people are marching down the street, and your group at the front sees that the police are going to try to break it up/block it/attack it with chemical weapons, etc.. How does your group respond? How do you communicate to others behind you? What do you say and do to prevent a marching hoard from pushing people in the front into the hands of the police?
- You need to occupy a certain location that is guarded. How can you carry out your mission?
- The demo is spirited but peaceful, but an angry protester or provocateur is throwing rocks over your heads at the riot police, and they might take this as an excuse to now attack with all their weapons. What can you do? How will you do it?
- The police have surrounded you, all is calm, and are sending in tactical squads of three or four to pick out and remove certain militants. How will you protect you comrades from getting taken away?
- Their is a fight developing between two protesters, or a protester and a passerby. How do you de-escalate the violence?
After each role play, everyone gathers and does the 5 Question group debriefing.
1. What happened?
(In intense situations, it is not always obvious to an individual what actually happened. When everyone answers, we get a more global perspective).
2. How did you feel?
(Feelings (fear, anger, helplessness, frustration, joy etc.) are important to recognize and learn how they affect our ability to be effective in intense situations).
3. Who made decisions?
(Was it you, other medics, protesters, police, or no decisions made? This is to help understand how decisions are made in intense or chaotic situations).
4. What decisions were made?
(It is sometimes not apparent that decisions were made. This helps us to understand this dynamic).
5. What other options could be chosen to for a better result?
(Creatively think, what options, even in a crisis, would have changed the outcome?)
For medics, the debriefing should include an examination of the health care techniques used, and how to improve them.
Then, run the role play again with lessons learned, and see if you have a better outcome.