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Home  » Action Handbook 

Direct Action Action Handbook

For those new to nonviolent civil disobedience and direct action, following are some good documents about how large actions are organized, how democratic decision making takes place in very large groups, and, most importantly, how to stay safe during an action.

If you're looking for more hands-on experience, there are lots of trainings available.

Organizing Structure

Affinity Groups and Clusters
An affinity group is a small group of 5 to 20 people who work together autonomously on direct action or other projects. You can form an affinity group with your friends, people from your community, workplace, or organization. A cluster is a group of affinity groups.

What is a Cluster?
A grouping of affinity groups that come together to work on a certain task or part of a larger action.

Consensus Decision Making
"... a decision making process based not on 'majority rule,' but the greater agreement of the community..."

History of Affinity Groups
The idea of affinity groups comes out of the anarchist and workers movement that was created in the late 19th century and fought fascism in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Anarchist movement provides an exhilarating example of a movement, and the actual possibility of a society based on decentralized organization, direct democracy and the principles behind them.

Direct Action Roles for Affinity Groups

The Spokescouncil
A spokescouncil is the larger organizing structure used in the affinity group model to coordinate a mass action.

1st Affinity Group Meeting Agenda Sample


Know Your Rights info
by Midnight Special Law Collective
These materials cover basic information about your rights and dealing with police and the criminal justice system. Includes: Dealing with Police, Basic Legal 1/2-sheet, Legal Steps & Choices chart, and Police Misconduct Report

Legal Solidarity
by Midnight Special Law Collective
Legal Solidarity is a set of strategies where people protect each other in the criminal justice system by using group decision-making an action. These documents cover basic information about the theory and practice of Solidarity in jail and in court.

Legal Support Person
by Midnight Special Law Collective
This handout is geared for activists, not the legal team. It covers basic information about how to be the legal support person for your affinity group. (1 page .doc format)

Shooting the Wounded
by Midnight Special Law Collective
This is a guide detailing how to document your injuries for lawsuits, the media, and criminal defense. (2 pages .doc format)

Legal Observer Guide
by Midnight Special Law Collective
This is a comprehensive guide for activists, law students, or lawyers to learn the basics of legal observing. Topics include how to take notes, preparation and practice, equipment, and effective use of a video camera.

What is Jail/Court Solidarity?
Jail/Court Solidarity is the name for a variety of tactics by which direct action arrestees influence the legal process and take care of each other through collective action.

Safety and Medical

Preparing for Action

Staying Safe & Sensible in Action
by Scott Weinstein