This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

May-June 2010

6 tips for protesting the G8 and G20 in style and safety

Gillian Bennett

Protesters against the G20 in Toronto. Photo by Jesse Mintz.

Protesters against the G20 in Toronto. Photo by Jesse Mintz.

From June 25–27, the world’s most influential political and economic leaders will descend upon Muskoka and Toronto for the G8 and G20 summits. Joining them will be thousands of protesters advocating everything from anti-globalization to climate justice.

If you want to get in on the dissent, check out this advice for emerging activists from Mike Hudema, the man behind Greenpeace’s “Stop the Tar Sands” campaign and someone who’s no stranger to direct action.

Connect…with people you trust. Attend activist training camps, join a Facebook group, and talk to local and indigenous communities to discover how you can support them. Good places to start are the Toronto Community Mobilization Network and No One is Illegal.

Arm Yourself…with knowledge. Educate yourself about the rich history of civil disobedience and all the rights we enjoy today because of it. Read classics like Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience or books by AK Press, an anarchist publisher with a great alternative bookstore.

Pack…protective shoes you can run in; heavy-duty gloves; shatter-resistant eye protection; clothing that covers most of your skin; a gas mask or goggles with a vinegar-soaked bandana for protection from chemicals; and noisemakers. Optional: rollerblades and a hockey stick to shoot back tear gas canisters—Canadian-style.

Be Aware...of the variety of tactics employed by diverse groups of activists. Some may feel that vandalism is warranted, whereas you may not. Decide beforehand what tactics fit with your personal convictions. And watch for police provocateurs who may show up undercover to incite violence and discredit activists.

Prepare…to be arrested. If you decide that you are willing to risk arrest, speak to a lawyer or civil liberties association beforehand so you know your rights and what to expect. Get a jail support person off-site who knows of your personal needs (e.g. if you need regular medication) and will be able to communicate with your lawyer and advocate for you.

Reconnect…once it’s over. Travelling to the summits is great, but make sure to also support causes in your own community. The old adage still stands: act locally!

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