Occupy Portland Outsmarts Police, Creating Blueprint for Other Occupations

Photo by Paul

by Lester Macgurdy

The Portland Occupation stumbled upon a tactical innovation regarding occupying public spaces. This evolution in tactics was spontaneous, and went unreported in the media. On December 3rd, we took a park and were driven out of it by riot police; that much made the news. What the media didn’t report is that we re-took the park later that same evening, and the police realized that it would be senseless to attempt to clear it again, so they packed up their military weaponry and left. Occupy Portland has developed a tactic to keep a park when the police decide to enforce an eviction.

The tactical evolution that evolved relies on two military tactics that are thousands of years old- the tactical superiority of light infantry over heavy infantry, and the tactical superiority of the retreat over the advance.

Heavy infantry is a group of soldiers marching in a column or a phalanx that are armed with weaponry for hand to hand, close quarters combat. Heavy infantry function as a unit, not individual soldiers. Their operational strength is dependent upon maintaining the integrity of that unit. Riot police are heavy infantry. They will always form a line and advance as a unit.

Light infantry are armed with ranged weapons for assault from a distance. Light infantry operate as individuals that are free to roam at a distance and fire upon the opposition with ranged weapons. Cops firing tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, bean bag rounds, etc. are light infantry. They remain to the rear of the phalanx of riot cops (heavy infantry) and depend upon the riot cops maintaining a secure front and flanks to provide them a secure area of operations.

Protesters function fluidly as either light or heavy infantry. Their mass, because it is lacking in organization, functions as a phalanx, having no flanks or rear. Lack of organization gives that mass the option of moving in whichever direction it feels like, at any given time. If protesters all move to the right, the entire group and supporting officers has to shift to that flank. While the protesters can retreat quickly, the police can only advance as fast as their light infantry, supporting staff can follow and maintain a secure rear (if the mass of protesters were to run to the next block over and quickly loop around to the rear of the riot cops, the organization of the cops would be reduced to chaos). If that police cannot assemble with a front to oppose protesters, they are useless. The integrity of that tactic is compromised, and unable to maintain internal organization, the cops revert to individuals engaging in acts of brutality, which eventually winds up on the evening news and they lose the battle regardless of whether they clear the park or not.

Because of the lack of organization in a crowd of protesters, light infantry cops firing tear gas, etc. has little effect because it just serves to disorganize a group that relies upon disorganization in the first place. All it really does is disorganize the riot cops, who then resort to brutality.

The lack of weaponry on the part of the protesters grants them the luxury of opposing riot cops at close quarters, or remaining at long range in a refusal to engage the heavy infantry riot police at all. They have the advantage of the retreat, they can quickly move away, or in any direction, and the heavy infantry riot cops lack the swiftness to respond.

So far, all the occupations have, in a grave tactical error, agreed to engage the riot cops when they march in to clear parks. This has been a show of bravado that has the tactical benefits of providing media coverage of the brutal methods of police and the benefit of draining the resources of the oppressor by forcing them to incur the expense of arresting and prosecuting people for trivial offenses.

Photo by Lauriel

Now, to move on to the actual application of these tactical principles (that evolved by accident rather than conscious thought), we can take the example of Shemanski park on the 3rd. We occupied the park and set up a few tents and facilities to serve food and coffee. The police soon declared an emergency closure of the park and came out in force, with full riot gear and all the weaponry. The line of riot cops soon forced us out of the park, so someone decided that we ought to march to City Hall. It was about 9 pm on a Saturday night, so City Hall was closed, but we marched there anyway, 800 of us blocking traffic the whole way. Once there, the riot cops once again lined up to disperse the crowd. However, since City Hall was closed and there was no point in staying there anyway, someone had the idea to march down to the area of town where all the clubs were, so we took off marching again. The riot cops were trailing behind us, as was the truck with the giant speakers on the top repeatedly announcing “This street is open to traffic, individuals blocking traffic will be subject to arrest.” Announcing this repeatedly was useless. One principle of non-violent resistance is this: one person has to walk on the sidewalk, 500 people can walk wherever they please. The riots cops had no place to form a line, so they were crippled.

Since we had no clear destination, the police were unable to get ahead of us and set up roadblocks. They were helpless to do anything but trail along as an escort to the march. The only other response they could have had was for the riot cops to charge into the marching crowd and attempt to disperse it by brutality, which would have been mayhem that could have only resulted in a PR loss by the police department as the images of beatings and brutality hit the airwaves the next day.

The march, having no clear destination, marched wherever it willed through the downtown area, blocking traffic and light rail at will and growing larger as onlookers joined in. One of the participants of the march had a three-wheeled bike with a loud amplifier hooked up to batteries with which to hook up an iPod and blast party music the whole time. This kept the atmosphere enthusiastic and energized and served to motivate onlookers to join.

The ability of music to raise morale can’t be understated. Slayer, Metallica, etc. wouldn’t be good music for this because it would induce aggression. Rhythmic music that’s usually danced to or played in clubs works best. If a DJ would play it as the ball drops on New Year ’s Eve, then it’s perfect.

After marching for 3-4 hours, we eventually found ourselves a block away from the park that we’d been forced out of, so we took it again. The riot police lined up and prepared to take the park again, but the attempt was called off and the police just left. They realized that they would have to go through the standard military procedure of clearing the park inch by inch, only to have us go back out into the streets and march again while they, one more time, trailed along helplessly- their entourage functioning as a part of the march, creating an even larger disruption to traffic (the marchers covered a city block, the trailing police took up another city block, effectively doubling the size of the obstruction to traffic).

In summary: when the cops come to clear the park, don’t resist. As they are preparing for their military maneuver and use of force that the Occupiers cannot reasonably be expected to resist, the occupiers should be packing up their tents and baggage and loading them into wagons, bicycles, backpacks, etc.

Force the cops to clear the park inch by inch, but try to avoid arrest in so doing. Once they have cleared the park, rouse the crowd through loud amplification announcing that you intend to march (any destination will do). Get the music blaring and then march aimlessly, blocking traffic the whole way, for hours. The crowd will be energized and willing to march for a long time, being spurred on by energetic music and chants.

The police will eventually trim down their entourage because they realize that they are helpless. Eventually, work your way back to the park. Or, if the police have fenced off the park, head to another park. If the police force you out, march again and they will be forced to follow. Eventually, they will inevitably come to the conclusion that they would rather have you in a park than disrupting traffic.

The police have no response to this tactic, other than resorting to brutality. And if they do that, we win whether they clear the park or not.

  208 comments for “Occupy Portland Outsmarts Police, Creating Blueprint for Other Occupations

  1. cantadelalma
    December 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM
    • Jose Sonata
      December 16, 2011 at 5:52 AM

      March in the streets all you want – eventually someone will get hit by a car and you will WANT the police to come rescue your @ss.

      • flora florance
        December 16, 2011 at 3:21 PM

        Sure they will, that is what the police are for, not for defending corporate profits at the expense of the general populace.

        • Zoom
          December 16, 2011 at 4:11 PM

          The police clearing out your illegal indefinite occupation of taxpayer property has nothing to do with “defending corporate profits at the expense of the general populace”. Guess what, the rest of us in the general populace are sick of your outrageous behavior, are tired of you engaging in class warfare in our name, are tired of the strain you put on public resources, and are tired of you maligning good police officers. This is why they should arrest you rather than clear you out.

          • Isaac
            December 16, 2011 at 4:48 PM

            @Zoom. Speak for yourself dude! You are entitled to your opinion but there is a significant portion of the population that disagree with you. You do things your way well do it ours.

          • stan
            December 16, 2011 at 4:56 PM

            you are not “the rest of us”, so STFU. you speak for yourself. as a fellow gainfully employed pdx’er, i stand behind their actions and applaud their audacity. if i were in similar straits, i’d do similarly. but i have a family to provide for and luckily have that option. but i do not turn a blind eye. we need more civil disobedience to make sure government stays honest.

          • dominique
            December 16, 2011 at 5:00 PM

            Staying in the park allows more people to become aware of the injustice in this country. Many are still unaware. If it is an inconvenience to you, tough shit.

          • Jose
            December 16, 2011 at 5:04 PM

            Speak for yourself dude; half of the US population lives in poverty and are happy with the stance OWS all around the nation is taking.

            You are either a hired e-goon, or a well-off brat that has zero compassion for the plight of the poor. Happy holidays friend, may the warmth of the season spark a light of empathy in your seemingly bitter heart.

          • December 16, 2011 at 5:08 PM

            I really prefer to speak for myself. Don’t care for others putting words in my mouth. I for one, am NOT tired of Occupy wherever. It’s time to stand up against the corporations that pay little to no taxes while the people who do the work pay the majority of it all. If I were physically able to help with the protests, I’d already be there.

            Don’t speak for me. Speak only for yourself. You do not know what the person beside you is thinking, so stop speaking for them or me.

          • VroomVroom
            December 16, 2011 at 5:24 PM

            And you’re the exact reason why this country is in the shit. You think the rich are never wrong, they are never guilty of crime, and they do nothing but create jobs. But, if you haven’t noticed our steady decline since the beginning of that mindset among the greediest of politicians. We’ve lost jobs, we’ve lost our sons and daughters, we’ve lost our rights to privacy, we’ve had our economy taken to the barn and shot, the middle class is disappearing. 1 in 2 Americans are considered poor. People like you would have us just go along with whatever the people that hate the things they hate say. You want to know why people are breaking the law? Because they aren’t left with any other choice. Do you want to see people dying in the streets from starvation or disease? That is the track your people would have us on. You don’t think that though do you? Probably for some inane religious reason like “God wouldn’t let that happen. He says he will protect his sheep.”

          • Hurr
            December 16, 2011 at 6:08 PM

            Telling someone they do not speak for the masses, and then pretending that you do… well, that’s hypocrisy at its best.

          • steve
            December 16, 2011 at 6:10 PM

            Another FOX News propaganda victim.

          • December 16, 2011 at 6:33 PM
          • Jeff
            December 16, 2011 at 6:38 PM

            It would better if they were armed and showing their write to bear arms or disrupting town hall meetings like the tea party!

          • Camille
            December 16, 2011 at 6:59 PM

            I support the Occupiers… as do the majority of my friends (ranging in age). – Worship the golden bull!!! .. *sarcasm*

          • JustB
            December 16, 2011 at 7:55 PM

            Zoom, speaking only for myself, I love, love, love, love the audacity of their behavior. The sheer audacity of their disobedience. Be clear about just what civil disobedience means. Civil means it is non violent. Disobedience means they will not comply with requests or expected behaviors. No one in this nation gained anything by waiting for it to be given. It took civil disobedience, often met with violence. That is our heritage. And our duty when things go awry, as they now are.

          • Maryp
            December 16, 2011 at 8:51 PM

            Seeing as you fail to understand how corporate greed is most certainly a major factor here, one can easily determine that you are a regular Faux viewer. Climb out of your faux hole and join the majority of people who understand exactly what the protesters are doing and why. They are the ones, by the way, who are opposed to the class warfare in this country. Are you aware that independent studies have been done which clearly show that Faux viewers are continuously in the dark regarding current events, most specifically politics? Only the truly ignorant would vote against their own best interests – hence, the Faux viewer.

          • Master
            December 16, 2011 at 9:09 PM

            Wrong. Are you one of those paid bashers that get money by the post to give the appearance of people that dont agree with OWS or are you just really that dumb? Maybe a brainwashed cop? Either way, you are in the wrong place.

          • Electrobird
            December 17, 2011 at 12:32 AM

            You dont speak for me, Zoom. You are not the rest of us. I fully support the movement. Our democracy was hijacked by lobbyists and political campaign finance reform is the only way to rescue it. We need this and we need it now! Occupy Together! We are the 99%!

          • John
            December 17, 2011 at 3:28 AM

            You do not speak for me. I am a taxpayer, and so are the protesters. I support the Occupy movement 100%. Protestors should not be arrested, but I understand in this new Amerika with the detention bill and the Patriot Act that this is how it works, and people like you support the dishonest arresting of people invoking their First Amendment rights. Disgusting.

          • Serin
            December 17, 2011 at 4:50 AM

            do you know why people get arrested and still return besides the need to bring back power back to the people? Because it was not illegal after all. The charges are dropped. False arrest to a public place.. thus the name.. public park etc. It wasnt us that started class warfare. billionaires robbed our future with bail outs and you are tired of us defending you? please do call the gov and tell them you will gladly pay so banks and certain specific companies that use lobbiest can never fail and pay back bail outs. you be the slave..you can pay my share and my kids future share of this debt. If you think its not worth fighting for.. i dont know about you but when i get robbed i want justice.

          • December 17, 2011 at 5:12 AM

            Im fully SELF employed and I back the actions of OWS! You are not the rest of us. Youre just still asleep. A little less TV and a little more reading might help you. Im sure that if you actually KNEW what was going on in the world, all the killing and poisoning and destruction of lives, all in the name of corporate profit, youd be right out there with us. Youre being poison right now and dont even know it. So is your family and everyone you love. Read some of this stuff before you condemn it.

          • kevin
            December 17, 2011 at 7:41 AM

            Hey Zoom,the parks belong to all of us! You need to enlist and get ready for the next war to support Korporate Amerika. Obey,comply, forget. You are the mindset that our political leaders need!

          • Gericault
            December 17, 2011 at 8:10 AM

            I for one, am grateful for the Occupy Protestors. I cant go off and leave my family, or miss work, but I support the movement one hundred percent.
            Its time someone finally took it to the streets……enough is enough.
            We are awake……
            Why is only called class warfare when we fight back?

          • zack
            December 17, 2011 at 12:16 PM

            People who are protesting are taxpayers. Even illegal immigrants are tax payers. The general populace can go with the flow, you’re as fickle in your decision making and judgements as who you think the next american idol winner is going to be. Bug off.

          • Matt
            December 17, 2011 at 2:19 PM

            “Taxpayer property” LoL. Everything public is taxpayers property. If you don’t like your park being public and sometimes occupied, why don’t you stop having a park? Oh that’s right, you can’t because you have no choice, that’s the government making the decisions, and it’s the government doing all the owning and deciding, not the taxpayers. But continue complaining about people trying to make a change.

          • Ali
            December 17, 2011 at 3:24 PM

            You are ignorant to things going on around you. These people are there trying to defend the rights that you will soon miss. You may be outraged, but son’t pretend for a second that you can speak for anyone other than yourself.

          • December 17, 2011 at 5:05 PM

            Speak for yourself. I’m not tired of civil disobedience against corporate greed. Keep the pressure on OWS!

          • Sparticas
            December 18, 2011 at 12:50 AM

            I would Rather them waste our reasorce’s than the Politians.. comparibly the occupiers are inexpensive..

          • Whasat?
            December 18, 2011 at 8:48 AM

            Zoom- You wrote “the strain you put on public resources” What about the strain that GW Bush put on all our resources in that mad hunt for “weapons of mass destruction” ? I am sure that cost MUCH more than any “strain on public resources” by OWS.

          • marie
            December 18, 2011 at 4:26 PM

            it shows that we care but nothing can really help unless we stop shopping with the big stores we start making more items here in America so our people can work again I myself will be opening a store that only sells America made (all parts too) items and put only america goods just like walmart use to be. If we do things like that the big business assholes will understand that we mean business.

          • Mimi
            December 19, 2011 at 11:23 AM

            @Zoom~When the movement has hung in long enough for changes to be made, will you not benefit from them also? While I am happy that you are able to support your family, there are many of us who struggle each day just to get by. I am 61 years old, unemployed (with little hope of becoming employed at this age)and, but for the kindness of a friend, essentially homeless. In the last month I have whittled a lifetimes worth of belongings down to what I can fit into my car. How is that fair? Those occupiers speak for me loudly and firmly. Too bad you can’t see what you will reap from what they sow.

          • W8kwses
            December 19, 2011 at 3:11 PM

            Zoom, the class war, if you wish to call it that, began with Reagan’s tax cuts and proceeded on with Bush’s tax cuts, which succeeded in diverting the national revenue into the pockets of the rich. Then the war continued with deregulation among other things of the banks. Then the war continued with the creation of derivatives and credit default swaps, with which the banking system collapsed and had to be rescued by the government. Then not to mention two oil wars. Now that someone has started to cry, “Foul!” you say they are starting class war Jeeeze. Christ weeps.

          • Steven Matherly
            December 20, 2011 at 9:28 AM

            By “good police officers” I assume you aren’t defending the cops who bash the heads of unarmed, peaceful, nonviolent protesters. Or do you think that Bull Connor and the riot police at the Edmond Pettis bridge had the right idea?

          • dave
            December 20, 2011 at 10:27 AM

            Do you hate the entire bill of rights or just the first amendment?

          • December 21, 2011 at 3:40 AM

            Sick of it? Not at all. I have never been more proud of my people. The occupiers are living up to the highest ideals of democracy, and shining lights in the darkest corners of this country. We are grateful for their example, and wish them the best in all they do.

          • Mark Wisnewski
            December 21, 2011 at 10:38 AM

            No we’re not. Rock on OWS.

          • bobo
            December 22, 2011 at 9:54 AM

            “the strain you put on public resources”

            hahahahahaha, please. if we want to talk about strain on public resources lets at least look at the heavy hitters.

            1.Our endless culture of war overseas.
            2.Trillions of dollars in bailouts to Wall St.


          • don gould
            December 23, 2011 at 6:41 PM

            people who give comments like they are cops moron understand this it is peoples duty to resist fascists we are not given rights and then put those rights in the hands of the police for all time see what happens when you do that the banks rob us and the police protect them wake up

          • twoexpensivepiecesofpaperandnojob
            January 1, 2012 at 5:12 AM


            Class warfare has already been waged by the rich. They have destroyed communities and lives around the world. They should hope their behavior doesn’t lead to real “class warfare,” because the last time that happened, the French gentry lost their heads — literally.

          • Michael Roberts
            January 1, 2012 at 1:48 PM

            Speaking as another of the “rest of us”, @Zoom, you’re full of shit. Don’t presume to speak for me – I’m overjoyed that some Americans have finally seen the light and are refusing to take it. More power to the Occupiers!

          • Jarad
            January 1, 2012 at 2:22 PM

            No, the general populace is not. Please speak only for yourself.

          • Rick
            January 2, 2012 at 1:01 AM

            As someone who has repeatedly experienced police abuse their power (in contexts completely unrelated to public protests or political issues), I can only say: as long as “good police officers” idly stand by and let the bullies abuse their power – FUCK THEM. They are NOT good officers, they’re scum just like the rest.

            You know, all it takes … is for “good men” to do nothing.

        • GrannyTenderstone
          December 17, 2011 at 11:09 AM

          I guess this person fails to recognize that some OWS ARE cops. We are working, yes WORKING for their rights as much as anybody else’s. No maturity, no gratitude, no sense of their place in the mess they refuse to acknowledge. Drinking that poison tea…..

        • mgh3kusa
          December 18, 2011 at 11:55 AM

          Corporations should not even need to file corporate income tax papers, if they were not required to we would all be better off.

      • superglew
        December 16, 2011 at 8:05 PM

        lesson from the drivers manual: pedestrians always have the right of way.

        • December 19, 2011 at 8:07 PM

          “pedestrians always have the right of way.”

          That can be changed. All that’s needed is a law allowing drivers to run over “occupiers.” The police don’t have to do anything.

      • GrannyTenderstone
        December 17, 2011 at 11:06 AM

        We don’t hate the police, although we dislike strongarm tactics against those doing what our founder ENTITLED us to do. If you don’t like it, I will pray for you to wake up and smell the coffee — or the b.s. as it were. We are occupying for YOUR benefit so have some gratitude, you will see soon enough when it all hits the fan and you HAVE to join us. MARK MY WORDS.

        Now go study the Bill of Rights why don’t you?

      • guest
        December 17, 2011 at 4:10 PM

        I wouldn’t want to be the one who hit some protester in a group of 500 with my car – you better start apologizing quick before they flip your car on its roof…

        • December 19, 2011 at 8:12 PM

          This can be followed by a second car. I don’t know what the ratio of drivers to “infantry” will be needed but I’m sure that far fewer drivers will match the “infantry.”

          A protest by drivers might be interesting to follow.

          • December 21, 2011 at 3:46 AM

            “This can be followed by a second car. I don’t know what the ratio of drivers to ‘infantry’ will be needed but I’m sure that far fewer drivers will match the ‘infantry.'”

            –Joseph Herzlinger

            I’m glad you’re on public record with this idea, in case you ever decide to back up your words with actual murder. Thanks!

      • December 18, 2011 at 8:39 AM

        life is risk. That remark seemed superfluous to me. Run over yourself…And do a good job…We don’t need you.

      • kit beaver
        December 19, 2011 at 1:30 PM

        you’d probably be the one in the car with your useless hatred.

    • Pedro
      December 16, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      Nice article but this has been done many times before. I was in Oakland when we were trying to retake the plaza and we marched for hours to disorganize the cops.

      • December 17, 2011 at 5:14 AM

        Sweet! Then it does work 🙂

      • M. Light
        December 17, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        The one thing that makes this protest different than any other in American history is the “horizontalism” behind it. Occupy is not an attempt to change the system, but rather a new system. Democracy is a means to discuss policies and take action to the betterment of the society it serves. It must be inclusive of all levels of economic station or it is less than Democracy.

        The General Assembly process is a “direct” form of Democracy, and eliminates the middle men of the Media, Politics, and Business. Anyone who is against the idea of communicating with each other to form a better society isn’t thinking clearly. This stopped being a movement for change when the cops showed up the first time, and deepened when they showed up in 16 cities, and London Police labelled protesters as domestic terrorism. This is a far cry from the truth.

        The power of a leaderless organization is it’s ability to morph into each new challenge. It is equipped with the intelligence of every individual member, giving it the power to learn as each new challenge is met. It is motivated by the lack of motivation by authorities to serve the true interests of the people, while calling itself a representative political system. Occupy exposes these rifts, between true representation and control, and each time it does, more people rally behind it.

      • December 17, 2011 at 1:38 PM

        True. This was done in San Francisco as well. But we didnt put 2 and 2 together to make it a strategic plan. For those who want to continue to occupy public space, it seems that a short standoff, followed by a retreat and then a re-occupation is a great tactic. Then repeat this as many times as needed.

    • GBaker
      December 17, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      The Right to Free Protest is the way this country was established. Our forefathers had the ‘Boston Tea Party’ as an example of protest against taxation without representation. The Watts Riots are an example of how bad things can go when you try to suppress change by police action. And vote !! You cannot complain if you don’t vote for change !!

      • Michael
        December 18, 2011 at 5:24 AM

        You were doing fine until you added in the vote part, do you seriously think voting in a broken system where you have to choose between two individuals that are under the control of corporate america matters? So sad that you believe in the occupy movement but don’t even understand the full scope of how rotten the apple is.

      • Steven Matherly
        December 20, 2011 at 9:44 AM

        I have to respectfully disagree. The Boston Tea Party was a violation of law at the time and they did it anyway. Same with Occupy. Being an irritant is what makes Occupy so powerful. The oligarchs would love to have us just walk around in circles with our signs in the approved “free speech” zones they create for us.

        Also, the Watts Riots were waged by poor folks confined to ghettos. While many of the goals may be the same as Occupy the dynamic is very different. I am of the opinion that we should embrace ALL forms of resistance. Yes, I include “violent” means. To tell the slave with the boot to his neck that we support him only if he “nonviolently” resists is insulting and paternalistic. The man who beats his wife deserves what he gets if she fights back. Violence may demean us all but we can deal with the guilt only if we survive.

        Strategically speaking, however, it is never a good idea take on an overwhelmingly superior adversary. Nonviolence has its uses but the oppressor will kill you just as dead for carrying a sign as for carrying a weapon. The dead are only martyrs if the living benefit from their murder.

        Also, voting is for suckers!

    • S
      December 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM

      Guess what? I speak for myself along with everybody else here. I am not a protester but I do support the message.

      To the protesters: when you block traffic and transit that affects the people you are trying to stand up for. I am a commuter, I have a job to hang onto I cant be late or I get fired. When you block the traffic and I am late for work that makes me feel like you are protesting me and holding me accountable. Please keep this in mind and respect the flow of traffic and public transportation. Besides it just gives the mainstream media a way to get everybody p’d off at you.

      • Jess
        December 19, 2011 at 7:45 AM

        I’m glad that you support the movement, but at some point you have to give up on this “business as usual” mentality. I hardly think it’s fair to tell the people fighting for justice and equality for all that they should do it in a way that is convenient for all. It isn’t convenient standing out in the cold (or hot) all day. It isn’t convenient standing against riot police all night. It isn’t convenient being jobless. I can’t imagine someone would get fired for being stuck behind 800 people that have taken over the street, but maybe people like that exist. I guess my point is, don’t take it personally. Don’t let the self serving emotions of the world become your own. It isn’t all about you, or your boss, or your neighbor. It’s about the whole. These people are fighting for the whole, so I find it slightly rude to ask hundreds of people to stop disrupting the machine to make sure that you aren’t late for work. No. More. Business. As. Usual.

      • Daniel
        December 19, 2011 at 1:18 PM

        @S — It would be great if we could make change occur, while staying out of the way of everything else. But, think about what you’re asking for. If Occupy protests stayed out of the way of business-as-usual, the political and financial elite who run our country would have the luxury of IGNORING it.

        Consider this: occupying a park, instead of streets, is an effort towards being relevant (attracting attention and making a point), while simultaneously being out of the way so most people can continue to do their business. But, when the movement is kicked out of the park, where would you have them go? They can either go as a group (which maintains their mass, support, and power, but necessarily will be blocking the area they march through), or they can disperse in all directions (which, magically, allows you to continue your commute as planned, but also destroys all power the organization had to effect change, and allows the status quo to continue.)

        Is there another option I missed? When the movement is kicked out of a park, how exactly do you propose that we avoid obstructing traffic, without surrendering all of our power to the police?

    • December 17, 2011 at 11:05 PM

      Since when do the police rescue people from car accidents? I think you need to go back to kindergarten 🙂 That is a job for the medics, you call an ambulance, not the cops who pepper spray civilians 🙂

    • merlin999
      December 18, 2011 at 1:50 AM

      Love the tactics, as a student of military history I can confirm that you using proven strategies of the like of Alexander and Tsun Tsu.

      One thing I would point out, if the cops set on the sprinklers in the park they force you to leave it would be hard to take back.

      • becky
        December 18, 2011 at 1:36 PM

        I’ve seen them do the sprinkler thing and its not too hard to block if you’re prepared for it. You just run up to the sprinkler and toss a bucket over it. Put weight on the bucket and there’s no more spray. It will still create a mud puddle that can block a tent, but people can occupy the space on foot and won’t be afraid of getting wet. 🙂

    • Ben
      December 21, 2011 at 5:40 PM


    • Shar
      December 23, 2011 at 6:39 AM

      When they returned to the park did they set up camp again? Or just stay in the park?

  2. Brian S., Portland, Oregon
    December 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Love the info and ideas shared. Retreating and then returning to a specific objective could be a very useful tactic.

    I just have one question, what is the point/goal of marching aimlessly through downtown blocking traffic and MAX?

    Doesn’t that just piss off people we should be trying to recruit?

    • RohanM
      December 15, 2011 at 6:51 PM

      “Eventually, they will inevitably come to the conclusion that they would rather have you in a park than disrupting traffic.”

      • IowaBoy Dave
        December 15, 2011 at 8:03 PM

        It would also work better with scouts riding or walking ahead. However, when doing a Portland Lap, one must remember to change it up every time. Never do the same lap twice. And just thik what wold happen if the group split in two? In Seattle just prior to the Westlake attack of Nov. 15, th epolice rode ahead and set up a skirmish line. As the marchers neared them, the chemical attack began. “Chaos over confrontation! Do a Portland Lap!” Is that a chant?

        • ryan
          December 16, 2011 at 12:33 PM

          Hit skirmish lines with heavy calvary, oh wait this is still peaceful on our end.

      • Warren
        December 16, 2011 at 9:28 AM

        This is true! It is also serving to deplete their already dwendling budget. Make them spend money!

    • Al
      December 16, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      to inconvience a few working people for the good of the community is not an issue.

    • Julie
      December 16, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      Blocking traffic and MAX for demos, parades, and who knows what else is a Portland tradition that hardly bothers most natives anymore anyway.

  3. December 15, 2011 at 1:32 PM


  4. December 15, 2011 at 1:37 PM


  5. BONK!
    December 15, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Forever to known as the Portland Runawayandcomeback Maneuver.

    • Gary OccupyTucson Branson
      December 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM

      Or the Portland Lap, which I think rolls off the tongue a little better. “Hey guys, the police are here. Let’s take a Lap.”

      • BONK!
        December 16, 2011 at 9:18 AM

        My sis had this take: Portland, where even the protests are passive aggressive. We’re calling it “pulling a Bitchy Ivan.”

  6. fenster
    December 15, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    That’s a great idea but REALLY keep abreast of whether police are adapting to that tactic. If they feel frustrated and plan ahead they can set up a pen perimeter before clearing an area with the intention of breaking the large group into smaller groups and then trapping the smaller groups and enacting mass arrests. And things could get exponentially more ugly. Just stay on top of that.

    • December 16, 2011 at 12:17 AM

      For what? Dispersing as requested? For walking down a side walk?

      I dunno…. I’m not sure the idea that the police were legally arresting “protesters” would hold up in court. It would be very difficult to prove intent. Especially if people broke up into groups.

    • TexPaz
      December 16, 2011 at 3:33 PM

      To avoid the large “pen” tactic, be sure to have a group of protesters/supporter OUTSIDE the perimeter of any “pen” that might be set up. Then they can be a distraction/do an action elsewhere in the vicinity while avoiding possibility of arrest. I have also tried to convince a local group to be flexible when dealing with police and esp to not interact when they come by to harass. It is a small occupation. But they continue to interact with police to our detriment and loss of resources (signs, chairs, food, etc.).

  7. rothstei
    December 15, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    A similar thing happened at Jamison Park, previously (a different night than December 3rd). The police took some three and a half hours to arrest the people who would not leave the park, while supporters rallied around the sidewalks. Then, as soon as the police made the arrests, they took off, leaving the supporters to re-take the park! The arrests, while a brave statement of purpose and civil disobedience for the cause of free speech, turned out to be only the second act of a three act play. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if the protesters had left the park at midnight, and just rallied on the sidewalk together. Would the police have stood their all night to enforce the park rules, when no rule was yet being broken?

    I did enjoy the march of December 3rd, though. (The police did not let people stand on the sidewalks around the parks, but cleared all the surrounding streets as well.) The march was incredibly motivating, and had a great attitude. Totally non-violent and jubilant. A great thing to watch and participate in.

  8. AmazedandAmused
    December 15, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Fricken amazing. Hats off to a job seriously well done

  9. Charles
    December 15, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    I was thinking about this, and alternate ways to “march” that would bypass standard police control tactics. While marching in a large group is traditional and provides a sense of solidarity, these large groups can often be steered incorrectly by instigators at the front, or corralled for arrests by police. I’m curious about the feasibility and effectiveness of forming long lines along one or both sides of the street, much like that along a parade route.

    Say, if a large group met at the south park blocks with the goal of lining Salmon street between that park and the waterfront fountain. People would set off in two “caterpillar lines” down each side of Salmon St. towards the waterfront. The effective visibility of the protest would be much larger – instead of disrupting for one moving block, the messages would be visible for eight blocks from cars and Max, and provide a larger “surface area” for interacting with pedestrians. Protestors would obey traffic laws and crosswalks so there would be no disruption of traffic and everyone would legally be walking on the sidewalks. If police blocked one street or started arresting people for some reason, the lines could move around the blockade, or disband and reform further down the street, or on another street. Once the end destination had been reached, the lines could stop and simply maintain presence on the street as long as desired (depending on loitering laws, etc), then either continue to the destination or simply disband after a set time.

    Most importantly to my thinking, it doesn’t provide a solid mass of people to confront – there’s nothing for police to form a line against. They may be able to block, corral or tear-gas people at one place, but that would only be a small fraction of the overall protest and easily routed around.

    Also, if there are no traffic or business disruptions, that removes the justification for confrontation and arrests in the first place, while still getting the message out to as many people as possible.

    • Reisa
      December 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM

      I like this idea a lot. The ability to get people’s attention and, at the same time, engage in conversation gives this a greater value than a traditional march where most of the people really engaged already get it.

    • Brian T. Hanson
      December 15, 2011 at 7:58 PM

      This is a brilliant idea and should be spread far and wide to all Occupy groups…it allows for Occupiers to engage the other citizens on the street in ways that can win converts, as Reisa suggests…blocking traffic annoys potential allies, but this string march is more visible and certainly very difficult for police to counteract. Lets do it, people.

    • robbina hoodlem
      December 15, 2011 at 11:58 PM

      maybe we should also be looking into other military maneuvers, and even football and other organized movement tactics and put an occupy spin together. wouldnt hurt 😉

    • AL
      December 16, 2011 at 12:50 AM

      There’s the added advantage of remaining visible over a long walking distance. Rather than a passerby hurrying to get past an intimidating block full of people, they walk passing protesters for a long time and not able to get it out of their consciousness. And the protestors aren’t so intimidating to new passers-by, so conversation is possible. Recruit more of the 99%!

      • silly
        December 16, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        This ad-campaign was long gone well before I was born.

        But I wonder if this string-march-technique would lend itself to slogans modeled on the old Burma-Shave style of a single catchy “poem” distributed in chunks over a series of signs.

        (See http://burma-shave.org/ for examples of the originals)

        We’d just need a few poets on board to create some catchy jingles.

    • Lester
      December 16, 2011 at 12:56 AM

      A single file line isn’t really a party atmosphere, it’s really just. . .well, a recreation of the unpleasant and constantly occurring requirement to wait in line.

    • TexPaz
      December 16, 2011 at 3:39 PM

      In the same pattern….a non-march. Simply have a bunch of people wearing Occupy t-shirts (hand-made, of course) all show up in a certain area—downtown, a few blocks of downtown area, around the community Xmas tree —- wander about in twos and threes, or singly, even, go get coffee, visit a bookstore, buy a pizza….just have 200 Occupy-clad folks hanging around downtown doing what folks do….

  10. James Hetfield
    December 15, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    “When the position is such that neither side will gain by making the first move, it is called temporizing ground. In a position of this sort, even though the enemy should offer us an attractive bait, it will be advisable not to stir forth, but rather to retreat, thus enticing the enemy in his turn; then, when part of his army has come out, we may deliver our attack with advantage” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

    Very impressive. I think the key is ultimately timing. When it looks like a full scale attack is underway, you simply retreat, rather than “fight”, since as Sun Tzu says, they will not gain by making the first move. Then, when the park is available once more, you return: but it doesn’t have to be right away, when the police would still be out in force, nor does it have to be a chase situation.

    Everyone could actually take a break for a while, go get some food, peruse the books at Powell’s or whatever, then regroup at their leisure. Perhaps one hour, perhaps six hours. They would not even need to retain a mass, provided they had some kind of communication network to bring the swarm back together.

    This is actually the second impressive tactical move I’ve seen from OP recently, I remember about a month ago you all successfully got the police to retreat from the park by very slowly advancing towards them, but without any indication of impending violence. I know you’re championing spontaneity, but someone over there’s been reading some Sun Tzu, or something similar.

    • December 16, 2011 at 12:25 AM

      You used an interesting term there: Swarming.

      Flocking or regrouping.

      Streaming or moving from one area to another

      Trickle or breaking in to small mobile groups to flock later…

      I think there could be a useful vernacular here.

      • AgTip
        December 17, 2011 at 9:02 AM

        Isnt there a valuable bit on research on swarm psychology available? Or one might read Michael Crichton about the swarm.

        One decisive advantage the swarm has over the regiment is that the swarm can evolve quickly; the regiment requires retraining and possibly re-outfitting.

  11. NYPDs Different
    December 15, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    This is great work, thank you, but this tactic relies on a police force small enough to divide and force to give chase. Here in NYC, when they cleared Zuccotti, they could leave behind a force of 500-1000 riot cops around Zuccotti, creating a three block perimeter, while simultaneously sending squads after our snake marches. The problem we face is that, when organized well in advance (and NYPD had practiced this scenario nights before, and moved efficiently and militarily from staging onward) the NYPD, one of the largest armies in the world, can, in fact, stop us from flanking with marches.

    In any case, a great article, important work.

    • Locke
      December 16, 2011 at 3:14 PM

      I think the solution in that case is to occupy a space bigger than Zuccotti. Although I don’t think Central Park is the solution, can you imagine a police force in New York big enough to effectively keep people from returning to a space that big?

    • Palmer Luckey
      December 16, 2011 at 11:21 PM

      Since when is the NYPD one of the largest armies in the world? There are drug lords that have private armies tens of times bigger. Even countries like France and Sweden, very pacifist countries, have armies that are far, FAR bigger than the NYPD. Get some perspective, you only hurt the Occupy movement when you spew lies as if they are fact.

  12. James Hetfield
    December 15, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    NYPD, read the last part of what I said above. I think it would work, even in NYC. Dispersal and regrouping at will (via networked communications) is the key. It’s what the cops do, too.

  13. December 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    @James: According to Wikipedia, NYPD has 35000 officers, 4500 auxiliaries, and 5000 school cops. They also make use of Law Enforcement Explorer Scouts and Police Academy recruits. This also leaves out additional Manhattan law enforcement agencies: transit cops (another 600), port authority cops (another 1600) and so on. Let’s call it 40000 cops for 8.2 million people in all of NYC – it rounds up to 0.005 cops per person.

    Portland has 1200 cops for 600K people – 0.002 cops per person.

    Would your tactics have worked if there were twice as many cops deployed? Cops only need a force about half the demonstration’s size to successfully engage in kettling.

    • Hanspy
      December 15, 2011 at 5:21 PM

      Most of the time there much more protesters than cops.In the time i was younger(now 59) we had also a nice way to overrun the cops.I must admit it was not so peacefull as it is now.We had the peacefull protesters and a group from few100 to over 1000 heavy boys ready, that when the cops started to attack the protesters ,moved in on the cops in a nr from 5 to 10 per cop.You wil be amazed how soon the cops retreed to there stations. Must admit there was no danger for getting shot and no harm was done to the cops. Just trow them to the ground and sit on them.Also have we in a real big protest with even some leopard tanks in use by the cops, barikade the police stations with old cars.Just trow 50 to 100 old cars around an station and you wil see that they dont like that.And they cant come out to assist there buddies.But as i say before, i live in Holland and cops hardly shoot here.For sure not on protesters. That is a dead sinn here.Shoot a protester, even woonding him, you have big problems.

      • NashvilleJohn
        December 15, 2011 at 8:36 PM

        I don’t really know about that tactic nowadays. Even if you outnumber the cops 10 to 1 if they can wave a can of mace and down your group of 10 thats all the time they need to break out the zip ties and have 10 people headed to a paddy wagon. No matter how cruel it looks police will always use mace unless more force is required. Size won’t help you if the cops have mace, even if you are wearing gas masks they would likely just grab for your mask and lift it and spray in your face anyway to stop you.

        • Felicia
          December 15, 2011 at 9:19 PM

          I’m all for carrying a big fan. That way if they pepper spray you it gets blown back in their faces. Just get one of those big Hollywood fans. It’s funny, the reason we won the Revolutionary War is because England was so proper with their tactics against a bunch of untrained who used their guns to put food on their tables. They came at the English in all different ways because they were unorganized and didn’t know any better.

          • December 15, 2011 at 10:49 PM

            Apart from Lexington & Concord, the colonial forces pretty much got their asses handed to them regularly. They weren’t able to make much headway until they got a lot of formal training – and, ultimately, the French Navy lending a helping hand (or fist, as it happens).

          • Twaag
            December 15, 2011 at 11:56 PM

            Except the light infantry vs. Heavy infantry, run away reform lines tactics discussed in the article are very similar to Cowpens, well if not the quite the same as Portland, it was the same tactic Sun Tzu mentions as an earlier comment.
            Besides, We aren’t at war, that’s the problem with the mentality of some of the protestors, kudos to Occupy Portland, don’t yell at the cops to fight you, they’ll likely do it without you screaming insults, and they’ll look way worse, don’t get arrested and don’t get beat up if you don’t have to. Occupy, Run, Occupy, repeat.

          • Nine
            December 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM

            leaf blowers

      • December 15, 2011 at 11:02 PM

        So… you’re talking about anti-nuke or anti-Pershing protests, right? The cops have had a lot of time since then to adopt better tactics – and in the US at least, to become much more militarized. The culture of policing in the US has also gotten far more us-versus-them in the last 30+ years. Add to that the relative lack of organized European-style street protests in the US (the only street-fighting protesters willing to even come close to what you describe are the right-wing anti-abortion militants, the KKK and related fascist groups, and a tiny cadre of hardcore left militants) and I don’t think you can make a meaningful comparison…

      • Rice
        December 16, 2011 at 5:31 AM

        Obviously you spent more time ‘protesting’ than going to school. Your post is barely coherent. Not to mention just as idiotic as the other brilliant ‘plans’.
        Do you losers really think that you’re going to ‘outsmart’ a police force?
        I’ve said it before, this so called ‘movement’ has dwindled down to high school grandiose ideas that only serve the purpose of pissing people off even more than you already have. The very fact that you’ve laid out your genius plan for all to read speaks to the childish temper tantrums and hissy fits of children. People are sick of you, you’re so insignificant now you barely make it on the tale end of a slow news day. Once again, GET A JOB LIKE THE REST OF US AND THEN YOU WILL HAVE SOMETHING TO DO OTHER THAN LIVE IN A PUP-TENT IN A PARK!!

        • Sarah
          December 16, 2011 at 4:52 PM

          Rice- unless you write perfectly grammatical Dutch you’re hardly qualified to comment. Oh, you didn’t realize he wasn’t a native English speaker? Says a lot for your reading comprehension. What were YOU doing when you were supposed to be in school? Attending neo-Nazi militia training camp? Or just snarling into your beer as you listened to Rush?

        • SFonda
          December 16, 2011 at 6:27 PM

          Your grammar is hideous. Based on your own logic, the exposure of your intellect has rendered your point moot. Sorry to say this but you sound like every other hockey mom who tries to talk politics by repeating popular sloganry. The rhetoric of your kind has been reduced to sloganry. It’s like the McDonalds of conversation. Thanks for your input.

        • Mama Miller
          December 16, 2011 at 11:07 PM

          The OWS protesters are NOT insignificant, and people are NOT sick of them! Maybe in your little group of friends that is the case, but I am impressed with this determined, intelligent, adaptable group of true patriotic Americans, who are willing to take their time, energy, and resources to speak out against corruption and greed in our banks and government. A very large percentage of the occupy protesters are either employed, retired, or students, who are working as protesters in their spare time. And very few of them are living in a tent only because they are bums who have no other place to live. Most are educated, motivated middle-class Americans who care so much about our country and its future that they are willing to stand out in the rain, risking arrest, to wake the rest of us up to the fact that our country is going down the tubes FAST and to point out changes that can be made to reverse the trend.

  14. Assy Nipple
    December 15, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Saw something similar in Oakland. I called it the zombie march. The police couldn’t really keep up with it and they kept changing directions. Eventually they stopped and the police moved in and then it became a war zone

  15. G.S. Arnold
    December 15, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Awesome. It’s the Redcoats vs. the Colonials all over again.

  16. December 15, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    That is the weakest thing I have ever heard. You are not an army, and comparing “Get the music blaring and then march aimlessly” to a military tactic is giving yourself way more credit than you people deserve. I’m getting sic of you Occupiers giving revolution a bad name. If you’re not willing to fight, die or even go to jail for a night for your cause then how much do you really believe in it. Martin Luther King wasn’t afraid to get arrested, neither was Gandhi. All you’re doing is playing games that cost everyone else money. Why don’t you actually do something other than sit in a park that will effect real change. Until then this revolution is bullshit!

  17. Carol Falk
    December 15, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    If we learn from experience like this, and never give up we are un-stopable.
    “The tactical evolution that evolved relies on two military tactics that are thousands of years old- the tactical superiority of light infantry over heavy infantry, and the tactical superiority of the retreat over the advance.”

  18. Liam C
    December 15, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    What if the cops just keep following you?
    Sure it’s pointless, but it’s their job as opposed to the volunteer ‘guerrilla’ group you guys consider yourselves. Frankly, if you take it to the absurd extreme, 20 dudes getting paid will walk in a giant circle a lot longer than 200 dudes not.
    Compare the size of marathons with the amount awarded and you’ll see the same premise: people hate walking, except for money.
    Eventually they’ll call you the ‘Occupy Parades’, arrest you all for not having permits, and charge the movement with the cost of the “police escort”.

    • marathon man
      December 17, 2011 at 5:39 AM

      99% of people running in a marathon are not interested in the financial award you mentioned.

    • merlin999
      December 18, 2011 at 2:49 AM

      if it’s a war of attrition, the state wont be able to pay for the cops over time. Good call!

  19. Hart
    December 15, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    If people bring their cars downtown, it’s their own damn fault if they get caught in a street march. This is how we do shit here. They don’t like it, they can stay in Tigard.

  20. Hank Pfeffer
    December 15, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    I dislike the military tone, though I certainly admire the tactic. Why not use a water metaphor?

    Did you know the cops are using a Sleep Deprivation tactic on the few static Occupiers here? Media blackout. Pass this on, please. “Sleep Deprivation Used By San Diego Against Occupiers.” or “Republican Mayor Rejects Christmas Truce In San Diego.”

    I’m working on this concept: “If we’re not going to kill each other, we have to talk.” I have amorphous backing from OSD, won’t try for GA till appropriate. Trying for negotiations while messing with mayors head.

    You guys have had it hard. Thank you for hanging in there. It’s warmer in San Diego. We got room.

    My Facebook page has a lot of stuff on it about whats going on in San Diego. Hank Pfeffer.

  21. Yoshi
    December 15, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    Actually this does a lot more than simply frustrate the police. It drains their resources. To borrow from Sun Tzu, it lenghtens their supply lines. Every cop on that line is getting paid overtime. And for some departments, hazaard pay as well. Every hour delay is that much more money being spent. Pretty soon, it doesn’t become cost effective. NO Police department has unlimited resources. Would this work with twice as many cops? YES. Here’s how: Break up into smaller groups, and scatter. To fully surround a group requires about a 10 to 1 ratio. The cops might be able to block the streets; what about allys, yards, etc? The point is to flow AROUND THEM. Be as water. “When my opponent outnumbers me, I avoid him” Sun Tzu. We can’t match them for training or equipment. But at the same time; it’s not costing us nearly as much to be there as it is for them to be there.

    • merlin999
      December 18, 2011 at 2:53 AM

      yep brilliant call, if your opponent offers a battle you can’t win… don’t fight. Retreat, all that weaponry and armour will get pretty tiring to carry after a while. Classic light infantry tactics

    • December 19, 2011 at 7:34 PM

      This tactic is great, but I guess that it really depends on where you are. In LA, where I am, for instance, the occupiers couldn’t come back because they arrested all of them for a misdemeanor (with a $5,000 bail), made them kneel on the pavement for seven hours and then barricaded the lawn of city hall and proceeded to arrest trespassers.
      More power to Portland.

  22. Sam Awry
    December 15, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    The Japanese who protested the expansion of Tokyo Airport for years and years developed a very supple,elegant martial art based on similar principals. However ,getting attacked by the Poice is the single most effective tool for getting the message across,as Ghandi and King well knew- their tactics were based on passive nonviolent resistance which elicits public sympathy and support. Getting caught up in battling the police,and strategizing how to do so can be exactly the kind of sidetrack the control structure intends it to be. Only Pawns identify with fighting pawns. Using public actions to build public support is absolutely essential.

  23. Mike Peake
    December 15, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    In Los Angeles, they came in unannounced and set up roadblocks in places two blocks deep. In other words, at intersections down the street from the site, and also one block further out.

    Take a look at their planning and execution, they are very proud of it:


    Also remember that the 1% use the cops as behaviour modification. They are attempting to create in us, a cost/benefit analysis. If they can make the results of #Occupying so awful (courts, fines, brutality) for us that we shy away from it, they win. This push-pull struggle is increasing in amplitude, with Texas charging those at the port shutdown who used PVC pipes to link to each other, with something ridiculously over-the-top. They’re going to begin issuing felonies for protesting, or something else ridiculous. They have only this direction. As the man said, throw yourselves upon the gears of the machine so that it cannot operate…they will become so ludicrous none shall stand with them.

    • Mike Peake
      December 16, 2011 at 8:47 PM

      A judge rejected that the Texas protesters were guilty of the felony with which police charged them. 🙂

      Go #Occupy Portland!

  24. damien
    December 16, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    This is exactly as it needs to be thought about. Infantry tactics. Police need to mass in numbers, which takes time, while protesters can have better communications and better agility to change plans.

    The idea is not to engage police where they are strongest, but rather to dissolve and reform in another location. Where they are weak, the police will not act against a crowd, for fear of retribution.

    Where they are strong, the police will act against a crowd.

    The goal should be to enact a series of flash mobs at places where the police are weakest, and to withdraw and redeploy when confronted by organised force.

    • merlin999
      December 18, 2011 at 2:55 AM

      oil on the floor, marbles for the horses to slip on?

  25. nigel
    December 16, 2011 at 12:22 AM


  26. December 16, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    I wanted to throw this out there: they’re going to go for leadership of the movement. Assign participants days of the week: this enforces ownership of the movement by the participants. It requires that everyone play a rotating role of responsibility, even if they initially lack experience. If worried about identification in front of snoops, use day of the week titles: someone calling out for Wednesdays, and a few people by that title respond to listen, think as a dynamic group, will not be as easily identified. Days can always be reassigned on much longer Occupations. Just a thought.

  27. Andrew
    December 16, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    So what you are saying is that you can use military tactics with unarmed civilians? What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Yes, the police have the capabilities to respond swiftly and precisely. No, not having weapons is not an advantage. Yes, the police are much stronger and are trained. What you have isn’t a ‘disorganized mobile group’. What exists is a group of kids who have it better than any third-world farmer would ever expect. What really strikes me though, and this is now obviously written in stone. Is that the occupy movement aims to use peace to achieve their goal of so called change, yet talk about using military tactics to evade the police. What message is this movement trying to send? Perhaps you need to hire a different writer that hasn’t watched so much V for Vendetta. Yes, revolution is great. It changes who becomes the middle class, however, talking about it and not actually changing anything is useless. The same arm-chair negotiation is seen all the time in America. When the people you use to represent your movement are mentally ill homeless, drug addicts, and young hipsters. Then it’s no wonder you’re not being taken seriously. If the government was truly threatened by Occupy. It would cease to exist.

    • LeaveaReplyCancelReply
      December 16, 2011 at 6:18 PM

      Those in the pundit class usually say “get a job”, never “find work”. It’s classist, insulting, naive, displays a lack of understanding of the media, economics, and politics. They also use the same words as the mass media does: “like the rest of us” (a classist argument if there ever was one) macho claims about impotency, and apparently in this case glorifying the intelligence of the police force at arresting people involved in non-violent protest.
      It’s just the kind of thing they are protesting. Pray that they manage to succeed in some small way for your own sake.

      Lastly, pardon my bluntness, no one really has so much “spare” time to be polite concise and intelligent on a public forum and not get paid for it…
      All the best,

    • merlin999
      December 18, 2011 at 2:58 AM

      military tactics to avoid violence… it’s quite simple.

  28. bogbeagle
    December 16, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    This puts me in mind of the Critical Mass demos of the 90s.

    A large group of cyclists would simply ride around town … not stopping or blockading, simply exercising their right to ride around the public highway. It was the motorists who created their own congestion, as a result.

  29. Andrew
    December 16, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    The hunter will always become the beast it seeks to destroy.

  30. December 16, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    When the enemy advances, we retreat!
    When the enemy halts, we harass!
    When the enemy seeks to avoid battle, we attack!
    When the enemy retreats, we pursue!

  31. Psymon
    December 16, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    Dear Occupy Portland,

    Please get over yourselves.


    • merlin999
      December 18, 2011 at 2:59 AM

      no thanks

  32. TC
    December 16, 2011 at 6:22 AM

    Some seriously stupid people commenting here.

    Don’t you realize you people are a joke in the eyes of working Americans????

    OWS = terrorists and nothing more.

    • Noah
      December 17, 2011 at 2:24 PM

      Terrorists, really?

      I’ve never seen so many peaceful, unarmed terrorists.

    • merlin999
      December 18, 2011 at 3:00 AM

      hippies yesterday… terrorists today. Did I miss a meeting?

  33. Rusty Shackelford
    December 16, 2011 at 6:40 AM

    So you just walked around town aimlessly till the cops gave up?? Since the entire theme of the Occupy movement has been that no one really knows wtf they’re actually supposed to be doing, I suppose it finally paid off for once.

  34. anon
    December 16, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    The only worry here is if they have enough cops to surround the march. Then they can pen everyone in like on the Brookland bridge.

    IT is important to always have a group of marchers in an intersection, because then it takes more police to form the line. Wide areas are also excellent because it streches the line and they have to move slower.

    Finally, splinter groups attempting to flank the police can force them to halt for extended periods of time, or double the length of the line they need.

  35. DktrStrangelove
    December 16, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    Nice work. Someone’s been reading The Art of War.

  36. Radish
    December 16, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    Might not hv worked in l.a.  Cuz there were too many cops..1600… 1/2 would stay in park and the other 1/2 would follow and prob use brutality on those marching.  They dont care if protesters are peaceful…

  37. DonGg
    December 16, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    Great info,, I always thought have everyone show up with some throw away tents and scatter through out the park would be a interesting strategy.. Divide and conquer!!!!

  38. stevelinux
    December 16, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    You’d think that with all this effort to design “tactics” for perpetual marching and camping, that we could come up with some kind of demands or some message other than we like to live in public parks and get high while playing in drum circles?

    • Noah
      December 17, 2011 at 2:38 PM

      Touche. But the problem is, while we all want to see change, we don’t all agree on the specifics.

      Contrary to what you say, that’s really not so important. The real point is to raise the consciousness of the public, and make our presence felt by the political actors.

      But I agree with you on one point: we should be having more policy discussions. We could even bring some erudite discourse to the media coverage. Then the so-called “1%” would not be able to write-off our opinions so easily.

      • merlin999
        December 18, 2011 at 3:04 AM

        just to get people like yourself to believe real change is possible would be a revolution

  39. Justine
    December 16, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Here’s an insight from a member of the press about continuing Occupy/police conflicts. I talked to a San Francsico Chronicle reporter last week during the Occupy Oakland Port march. I asked him if he thought the media’s coverage of the Occupy movement was fair. He said Occupy is a really difficult issue to cover because it’s about EVERYTHING. Reporters need to be able to pick apart an issue and distill it down to 1,000 words. He said he thought it was unfortunate that the Occupy movement coverage keeps turning into a police brutality issue which deflects focus from the real issues.

  40. Ray
    December 16, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    You can damn a lake, but you can only divert a river.

    The mobilization of a force is contingent on its ability to carry with it the necessary temporary encampment and logistical materials to occupy anywhere. Foldable tents on wheels, kitchen trailers, media center backpacks and IT hotspot carts need to be a staple of large scale protests so that in effect the river becomes the occupation, giving little stationary resistance for the opposition to act upon. The barrier to police efforts, besides the obvious PR nightmare, is the budgetary expense that is strapping these cities. This is the battle of attrition.

  41. Ben
    December 16, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Sun Tzu would be proud.

  42. Catbus
    December 16, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    You know what this sounds like? Critical Mass, but on foot. Chicago gave up trying to fight CM a long time ago (except for a brief confrontational period when some idiots thought taking the expressways was a clever idea) and now just directs traffic around it.

  43. ratcity
    December 16, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    finally! my brothers & sisters r beginning 2 think responsively & tactically 2 a military assault by the police, rather than standing idly by chanting “the whole world is watching” as brothers & sisters r beaten with clubs.

    its important 2 note that although thinking tactically in this way uses the language of violence & militarism – which has, i believe, made some of our brothers & sisters uncomfortable with discussing & using these tactics – it is actually co-opting the the language of violence & militarism 4 liberation.

    much more needs 2 be done in this regard, remembering always that the police will begin 2 respond 2 new tactics with even newer tactics of their own.

    clearly though, standing by and watching a protest area being turned into a war zone by the police must end & new tactics must emerge.

  44. December 16, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Great article. Good job.

  45. Bill Peterson
    December 16, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    The Chinese board game Go is played by placing stones on the intersections of a grid. When you completely surround a batch of your opponents stones you get to take them off the board.

    Blow up a map of your city’s streets and play Go using that as the grid to learn the strong points and weak points where you can get kettled.

  46. pcw27
    December 16, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    What jackass decided to post an article based on how to provoke the police into violence? You know how bad all this “Us vs the Police” stuff makes us look? We want less violence in these protests not more!

  47. December 16, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    This is a GREAT tactic and reminds me of Bruce Lee’s teaching about how important it is to be like water ie fluid! But what is the big picture strategy to get Wall Street out of our Government?

    Keeping America aware that the Status Quo has got to go and the system is broke is a Vital mission. I hope it will also include other tactics like mass Teach Ins, frequent Mic Checks of agents of the Status Quo, and getting Candidates for the 99% of us on ballots everywhere. We have to shake the tree of fascism from the roots if we are going to see the fruits of liberty and justice!

    Great article! Keep the information and lessons flowing.

  48. Terry L. Austin
    December 16, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    I don’t have time to read all the comments, so sorry if this has been mentioned already: This has happened spontaneously in other places. For instance, I was listening to a live feed when the police came to clear Occupiers from Tompkins Square Park in NYC. Few people were there (most were in Liberty Park), so they gave way and started walking downtown, with the cops trailing them for many blocks. (Eventually, the guy with the live feed camera got in a cab and went back to Liberty Park.)

  49. kym
    December 16, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    I support the movement but I do not support disrupting traffic and the people who are trying to get around the city to do what they need or want to do. I think this aspect is costing the movement and turning possible supporters off. Life is hard enough without the disruption of getting around. Rethink this attitude of blocking traffic, I think it’s a huge fail. After all you are only disrupting the very people Occupy is trying to help.

    I am seeing this as becoming more about ‘out maneuvering the cops’ then what the actual movement is about.

  50. AW
    December 16, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    Wow, talk about someone that needs some therapy. Your article was completely understandable so don’t worry about this schmuck. I’ve been in the Public Safety field for over 20 years, Military Vet as well, you all have more support than you could imagine. Most of us are just to afraid to give up our jobs because the Big Corporations and Banks have taken or will take what we have worked a lifetime building. I don’t blame the youth or you for doing what your doing. I spent a lifetime doing things the “Right” way and in the end, the 1 percent is going to drain it all away from me in the name of “Conservatism” However you swing it, this comment is from someone who thinks they are educated and probably a member of the “Tea Party” who are being led around like foolish puppets by the rich. Talk about uneducated. I’ve got my degree and it doesn’t make a bit of difference. You either have to decide to walk all over other people, steal other peoples money, cheat them or have no moral values to move forward in this society so “Bravo” for trying something different and don’t worry about this bitter washed up spiteful fool. Merry Christmas and good luck. Again, you have more support from the average worker and public safety employee’s than you know.

  51. Susan
    December 16, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    In Asheville NC, a couple hundred people marched (unannounced, unplanned) in the streets one day and it was filmed by the police. Later, the police arrested about 8 people in the video they had filmed that day. It was a daytime march, no one covered their faces and the police did not arrest that day – but they did warn people to stay on the sidewalks.

    However, one guy they arrested was not even there – so they must have make a mistake there. It was rumored that there would be many more arrests, but so far that did not happen. Possibly because of an general outcry against the tactic.

    So, there may be a downside to this tactic, but I would say go ahead with it if you think that is a good idea.


  52. Paul MacDonald
    December 16, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    When I first read this, I was amazed that someone actually wrote the following:

    “Their mass, because it is lacking in organization, functions as a phalanx, having no flanks or rear. Lack of organization gives that mass the option of moving in whichever direction it feels like, at any given time.”

    and wasn’t called out on it.

    This is NOT the nature of a Phalanx. It’s defined, more or less, as a straight line that moves forward. The PROBLEM with the Phalanx, as exposed by Alexander the Great, is that when a SMALLER FORCE manages to break the centre and everyone goes all willy-nilly.

    Smaller and lighter against a mob is EXACTLY what the cops are trained for. That the protesters left the park and were able to return is simply because the police didn’t wish to HOLD the park. Had they decided to bust heads and make arrests, people would soon have learned the lesson that Darius did.

    On another point: that this wasn’t on Channel 7 Action News is irrelevant to the leaders of this leaderless Occupy movement. I’m sure they were informed that if you run away and then return, then (short of physical violence on the part of the authorities) you can continue to do so with impunity.

    Terrible article.

  53. Lennart Regebro
    December 16, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    This is why riot police normally (but apparently not in Portland) *block off all exits*. Then they let people through slowly, in small groups. And then when the areas is cleared, they keep it blocked off until protests subside.

    So you did outsmart the police. Create a blueprint? Seems unlikely. The Portland police just didnt really know what they were doing. Next time they will.

    Sorry to being a bummer.

  54. Kris Craig
    December 17, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    Really? Thats what youre patting yourselves on the back for? Returning to the park after they cleared it?

    Look, I support the Occupy movement. But if its going to survive, we need to have less self-gratification and more intellectual discipline. They cleared the park, then you returned later. Thats not a brilliant new tactic. Its an obvious counter-move that protesters have frequently done throughout history. It was the right move, no question, but enough with this look how brilliant we are! bullshit. If you need to jack-off that badly, thats what porn sites are for.

    Also, stop comparing this to military campaigns. Youre not an infantry. Youre not a Greek phalanx. Youre not Maverick from Top Gun. Youre protesters engaging in civil disobedience to draw attention to social injustices that have been plaguing our society for generations. When you engage police, its not a glorious battle. Its an opportunity to attract more coverage from the media, which generally tends to be drawn toward sensational events such as this.

    I hate to burst your bubble, but the police didnt withdraw because they felt defeated. They didnt withdraw because they were frustrated by your persistence. They didnt withdraw because clearing the park inch by inch would have been too tedious. They withdrew because they were ordered to do so. And the order was probably given in order to avoid the bad PR that would result from having to repeatedly clear the same park in one day.

    But dont kid yourself: The police could just as easily have moved in and arrested anyone and everyone who refused to leave. This has happened numerous times elsewhere. And so long as theyve got you in a jail cell, you obviously wont be going back to that park (or anywhere else for that matter).

    In other words, you got lucky. The powers that be decided to fall back and regroup. It is a victory and you should celebrate, but dont get cocky. The police will be back, you can be sure of that. And next time, they might not withdraw when you return.

    Im not suggesting that you change your tactics. In fact, so long as you remain NON-VIOLENT, youve got my support. What I am suggesting is that the guy who wrote this article is a naive, egocentric fool who doesnt know half as much about history and tactics as he thinks he does.

    So get your head out of the clouds and save the self-aggrandizing fantasy for another time! You imployed a very simple, very predictable, and very old tactic. This tactic worked. But that doesnt make you a great general and it doesnt make an unarmed group of protesters a revolutionary army. You dont get to pat yourself on the back just because you know how to wipe your ass. Its good that you (presumably) know how to use toilet paper effectively, just as its good that you returned after the police cleared the park. But thats not brilliant and its not a new tactic.

    If you figure out how to stop rubber bullets, then you can brag. Until then, get over yourself and dont waste our time with these childish delusions of grandeur. Youre just making the rest of us look bad. Now, I suggest you get to work planning your next move before the police return.

  55. doug lusch
    December 17, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Keep up the great work OWS, civil disobedience, there ain’t no shame in that game!!! Thank you for putting yourselves on the frontline, WE THE PEOPLE shall force change from the bottom up!!! This is the bloodless beginning of AMERICA’S SECOND REVOLUTION!!! TRUE peace and love to all my brother’s and sister’s in the fight for freedom, liberty, equality and justice for ALL!!!

  56. Kathleen
    December 17, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Dear Zoom: The First amendment *IS* the permit, and therefore, camping (such as the Patriots in George Washington’s Army at Valley Forge did), marching, protesting etc can *never* be illegal.

    (*Note to The Occupation*: What about having an easy way to put some kind of message or quote from the Bill of Rights on the tentage? Then, it would be political free speech and another way to sue local authorities when they demand they be taken down. Just my tuppence.)

    Furthermore, Dear Zoom, the Bill of Rights specifically, and the Constitution as a whole, enumerate the necessary and sufficient conditions of the *inalienable* rights specified in the Declaration of Independence, which started us all down this road and brought us to today. Inalienable means that we, individually and severally, can *never* give away these rights because they are an intrinsic part of our humanity. The desire for these Liberties and the love of these Rights, are the fingerprints of our Creator, and, for the Founders at least, proof of It’s existence. Therefore they are the sacred manifest in the mortal world, *free* of *any* specific religious baggage, hence the Constitutional mandate of the First Amendment to protect The People from any imposition of religion upon them by the Federal (and later the State) governments. Only in this way can The People support, protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, and bear true faith and allegiance to that same Constitution. See also: Occupy Portland, Wall Street, et. al.

    Inalienable *ALSO* means that no one individual, or group of us Citizens, may give away these rights for the rest of us. That would be you, Zoom, to whom I am referring in this case.

    BTW, Dear Zoom, you are aware, yes? – that the Second Milita Act of 1792 required all of the able-bodied to report for duty to their local milita, the modern equivalent of which are the local National Guard units. You have done, that, right? You are, yourself, obeying that law, right?

    OTOH, if however, you are asserting that the Constitution has been abrogated and that you *support and agree* with that action, then, my fellow American, my duty as an Officer and a Gentleman by act of Congress (you probably think of us a Veterans and that’s cool too) is to inform you that you fall under the definition of a Domestic enemy of the Constitution, and that I am oath-bound to protect Her from you; see also: First Amendment, camping, marching, etc etc. I’d prefer to carry out that duty peacefully, if it’s all the same to you. Hence, my support of The Occupation.

    Q.E.D. Thus endeth the Civics lesson. So far.

    Yr. Obed Scrvnr,

    Kathleen – USMCR 1980 – 1982; USAF 1982 – 1986 , and on behalf of my deceased mother – USMCWR 1943 – 1946

  57. Andrew
    December 17, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    The counter to this kind of aimless marching in Applegate’s book “Kill or Get Killed” is for police flying squads to arrest the “Communist” leaders of the crowd with as much excessive force as the law might be seen to allow. Supposedly these are seen to be at the back of the crowd and employing runners, bullhorns and/or radios to control their dupes.

    This is ineffective and poses a problem when the crowd is leaderless. It also poses a danger when police try to identify non-existent leaders and make examples of them. Be aware.

    I have found that vehicles of any description working with protesters are an immediate target of police action. The vehicle can be seized and towed.

    I don’t like the analogies to heavy infantry and light infantry tactics because in a real war — which thankfully this is not — military riot control methods would be employed, followed by first selective and then lavish use of deadly force. This happened in the various 1960s urban riots, where the Kerner Commission felt compelled to point out in its report that area effect weapons are not appropriate tools for riot dispersal.


    The more things change, the more they stay the same . . .

  58. December 17, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Anyone who follows the line that demonstrating is selfish and against tax paying people, want to be flown off to Sierra Leone and see first hand what the greed of government and corporations do to a nation that has no means of fighting back.

    Go live like a third world person and tell your fellow man not to shout up for change. Here’s some advice. Get your head out the clouds and open your eyes just a little bit. You might see something.

    As for the OCCUPY movement, good luck to you all from a middle class, middle aged, taxpaying Englishman.

  59. marty
    December 17, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Im all for the occupy movement as I have seen the decimation of the middle class first hand in my job as a tax accountant. BUT PLEASE, at least consider that our Police are people just like you and I they are not bankers, they have families, they can get tempered and worked up just like you can . They are generally good, patient people. There is no need to incite or blame police or see them as the enemies. There may be a time when this gets worse, when they have to make a decision to SHOOT you under orders,and you want them to have feelings of sentiment for you as many due because of the needed overtime. At least consider these points.

  60. John
    December 17, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Occupiers are such little kids…”military” strategy analysis of how to cause public problems? Reminds me of a child playing cops and robbers

    • December 20, 2011 at 7:10 PM

      I think you mean how to solve public problems.

  61. Lawful Man
    December 17, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    No Legal Entity has authority over a Lawful Entity. Man is a Lawful Entity and so is a Peace Officer. Citizens are Legal Entities and so are Police and Law Enforcement. Legal entities require a lawful entity to play the role of the legal entity for it to exist as more than an Idea.

  62. Mato Ska
    December 17, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Street theatre is not change, anymore than campouts are resistance. Kris Craig said it right. It does appear as if more than a few people are beginning to have too much fun and are beginning to see the whole thing as a military struggle for control of territory, rather than as a struggle for support of the people. Claims of being the 99% need to be substantiated and demonstrated beyond large demonstrations and civil disobedience.

    Provocations will have consequences, then these same people taunting the police will be nowhere to be seen. No identities in tactical leadership, also results in no accountability and responsibility. Masks and bandannas over your face will not obscure your own individual culpability in the repression that follows. It just guarantees that the agent-provocateurs will never be identified. If you want to organize show what you mean- prove to people this is not just another deadend or worse.

    Start doing something concrete. At least FOOD NOT BOMBS gives out food. They are a charity organization, nonetheless. If you are just social workers, then don’t pretend you are being political. The fact is you are just preying on those of us going through difficult times, same as the Salvation (make that: Starvation) Army. If you think it’s fun being poor and that we have nothing else to do then go to your demonstrations, you might want to grow up a little.

  63. David Bell
    December 17, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Here in Oakland we have cameras on traffic lights. On these cameras are microphones used to triangulate sound to locate the many gunshots we have every night. If one were to put dry ice in two liter soda bottles and then 3-4 or more blocks away from any large scale police action, the resulting “kafuckin kaboom” will be heard on the system and result in the need to send the trrops (or some of them) to investigate. Note that these are very loud and that the cap must NOT be screwed tight until placed. They are also legal. They are relatively safe but it is best to place them away from people (perhaps toss them on rooftops).

  64. bellestarr
    December 17, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    At the risk of being ignored once again-I have repeatedly suggested for over a month that we occupy like the Hyatt until police are mobilized and pick up and fade into the city regrouping at a predetermined place like wells fargo until the police are mobilized and essentially run them around until they are scrambled and confused.
    But, as OSF legal I am used to being silence and calumniated for trying to make this a real action instead of an ad hoc response-be proactive not reactive.

  65. Martin Houston
    December 18, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    The tactics mentioned here are very similar to those that OccupyLSX used in London on D15.

    We had a street carnival starting at Picadilly Circus and going round the busy parts of London including the Ritz!

    The carnival lasted 2 hours and then the cops swooped and confiscated the two bike trailer sound systems.

    A big heavy sound system is a liability. Better would be a dozen or so people with heavy duty ‘Boom Boxes’ playing sound streamed over their phones from a central source.

  66. jamie sachi
    December 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    My name is Jamie and I am with occupons Montréal. I just wanted to let you know that I love this article. It is a true inspiration and the essence of intuitive conflict strategy. Keep up the creative distortion!!!

  67. Stannous Flouride
    December 18, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Just beware the lessons of Boudica, the Briton queen who took on the Romans. She beat them time after time but eventually got caught in a place from which there was no escape. Her followers (in your case the media), who had come to watch the last Roman Legion get defeated, encamped behind her and her warriors could not get through.
    They were slaughtered.

    Don’t ever go into a place without multiple exits!

  68. Big VA
    December 19, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    This article prooves an interesting point. The occupy movement has lost sight of any goals they may have had. I thought the occupy movement was in response to corporate greed and political involement in big business. All this article does is talk about the police force. I don’t see how draining police resources helps your cause. If I were victimized do to a lack of police presence in my neighborhood because they were down dealing with marchers blcoking traffic I would be very upset. You are not warriors you don’t have tactics or a stated goal. You’ve worn out your welcome across the globe and have nobody to blame but yourselves and your lack of cohesion

  69. December 20, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    I’m glad this worked for them. I think the important part is that it was spontaneous. Trying to build a formula is not the key, reacting to the situation is. It’s not every city’s police force that ACTUALLY CARES about their PR. In NY I watched on livestream as the police repeatedly set up roadblocks and sectioned off a random march and brutally arrested who they could. They managed to get the group split up and they were having a hard time figuring out where everyone was and how to regroup. Again I say: I’m glad this worked for them, and it’s a good story of how to react, but it would be dangerous for others to take this as a recipe for success. The real recipe for success is the fact that it just happened, in organic response to the unique situation.

  70. December 21, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    Lester – I am interested in having an honest and open discussion with you about your observations….

    The police will eventually trim down their entourage because they realize that they are helpless. Eventually, work your way back to the park. Or, if the police have fenced off the park, head to another park. If the police force you out, march again and they will be forced to follow. Eventually, they will inevitably come to the conclusion that they would rather have you in a park than disrupting traffic.
    The police have no response to this tactic, other than resorting to brutality. And if they do that, we win whether they clear the park or not.

    In large part I agree with you. I do not consider myself an Occupier (if anything, I am involved in the American Spring Movement – I live in a suburb of Madison, WI). But… the PEOPLE’s Movement is mult-faceted and however we label ourselves – we are all fighting the same war.

    I initially supported Occupy and sincerely continue to hope Occupy will grow into a national Movement so massive in scope that it rivals the Civil Rights Movement in size, scope, purpose, energy, spirit and success. But – as it stands today – I have grave concerns and deep disappointments for Occupy’s ability to harness all the energy bubbling up in America today, energy and desire for fundamental change. My biggest concern is that Occupy is expending enormous amounts of energy setting up conflict with local Police Departments and City Councils (who are every bit as victimized by big money as the rest of us) instead of going after the core of the problem. The core of the problem is money in our election system, in our legislative system and in our polling processes.

    To that point – Hart Research Associates conducted a national survey about the Citizens United Decisions. http://freespeechforpeople.org/sites/default/files/me10129b_public.pdf

    In that survey Hart Research Associates found that Nearly four in five (79%) Americans support passage of an amendment to overturn the decision and make clear that corporations do not have the same rights as people, thus giving Congress the authority to limit the amount of money corporations can spend on elections. ….

    It is rare to find such consensus in America – and it would be a travesty if Occupy as a unified Movement did not address this consensus in a substantive way. Occupy prides itself on governing by consensus, yet there is a clear consensus within the American population (the PEOPLE Occupy is professing to lead) for a constitutional amendment and Occupy is not yet tackling that consensus in a unified way.

    In a perfect world – it would be fantastic if Occupy Actions collaborated on getting the corporate money out of politics and repealing corporate personhood at the same time. My ideal scenario would be to take lessons from the Civil Right’s Movement.

    As the Civil Right’s Movement matured it moved from sit-ins and Freedom Rides to intentionally effecting the discriminatory political process. Much of the Civil Rights Movement focused on Voter Registration and undoing the discriminatory laws in Southern States that made it impossible for blacks to register and vote.

    And now, 60+ years later America finds itself at another cross-roads. The People’s Movement is still in its’ infancy. What began out here in Wisconsin and in states like OH, FL, MI, IN, etc… last spring is now taking hold in the Occupy Movement. The one common thread through all of these different PEOPLE’s uprisings is the corruption and greed in our system, the corruption and greed brought upon America by money in our election systems, in our legislative processes, in setting up our voting machines. Until WE the PEOPLE eradicate money from these areas, all other problems will remain – we will be battling the symptoms but still dying from the disease.

    Concretely there are things Occupy can do. My thoughts are as follows:
    • Work with the Dylan Ratigan Get the Money Out Project
    • Work with their state Occupy legal teams to develop language for a state constitutional amendment similar to Dylan Ratigan’s national constitutional amendment.
    • Canvas local areas to garner signatures on petitions (developed by legal teams) that would either put public pressure on state politicians or force state politicians to pass state constitutional amendments barring corporate money from political processes.
    Imagine Occupy Actions sending an advance working team out to small, rural communities. Imagine your advance working team connecting with local city councils and explaining that you want to change the United States Constitution and the applicable State Constitutions and you will be canvassing the area for signatures.
    Imagine talking to folks with decimated Main Streets because of big money coming in through the Wal-marts of this world. And explaining to these people why these constitutional amendments are necessary. (I think they’ll get it pretty quickly – big money hasn’t only taken their Main Streets it has shut down their family farms). Imagine talking to these community leaders about working for them and asking them for permission to “Occupy” a local store front while you are doing your canvassing work.

    Imagine asking city leaders to work with you in getting camera crews out there from local television stations to interview the canvassing workers and city leaders…..
    Imagine – over time – Occupy actions all over the country coming on board and having the occupations move from one home-town community to the next … occupying shuttered plants, abandoned farmsteads, and empty store fronts. All the while getting signatures on hard-copy petitions to amend the state and federal constitutions.

    This is my dream, not only for my home state, but for my country. That the PEOPLE’s Movement intentionally move out into the country, that the occupations not remain in the urban areas but move out to where the people are – just as the Civil Rights Movement took their voter registration campaign out into every nook and cranny of the rural south.
    While all of you consider “Switching gears and occupying factories, schools, and foreclosed homes is not only a way to take the movement underground and make it more easily defendable, but also a way to open up Occupy to extended mainstream appeal.” Please consider using all of the energy out there to do something productive, something any main street American can understand while they go to work every day – use that energy to start and manage a national effort to pass a constitutional amendment.
    One last thing – I mentioned that I am from the Madison, WI area. As you may know, when the Koch Brothers managed to purchase our Governor’s office and every other branch of Government the PEOPLE rose up in huge numbers. We had PEOPLE “Occupying” our Capitol Building long before “Occupy” was a word. Out here we referred to our Occupiers as “the Capitol Village”. Well Walker was successful in removing the 24/7 Capitol Village from their “Occupation”. But… as successful as he was at ending the 24/7 occupation, he has not been successful at ending the PEOPLE’s Occupation. WE the PEOPLE (and I attend when I can) continue to “Occupy” our Capitol Rotunda every business day at noon for the Solidarity Sing Along. When the hour long sing along is over – we each go on our way. We each go out into the community and go to work and volunteer on the recall drive and do the other daily stuff of life that is required to reclaim our state from the Koch Brother’s.
    My point is simple, if the Capitol Village had dug in their heels and sought to continue a 24/7 occupation of the Capitol Rotunda a lot of energy would have been used up fighting a useless battle, it would have produced nothing but frustration for the citizens and Capitol Police alike. Instead, the Capitol villagers took the high road and decided to fight the real fight, they decided recalling Walker and other Koch politicians was more important than getting into daily conflicts with the Capitol Police. They decided our energy was better spent on the war instead of the battle. And lest anyone think we gave up the 1st Amendment battle to be able to gather in our house and protest freely think again – read this documentation thread. WE are still protesting, we are still making it clear to Walker and company that the Capitol is our house… but we are doing it in a way that preserves our energy for the war – for the recalls…. http://www.wearethedemocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=147

  71. PDXOutdoors
    December 21, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    It’s this kind of clear, rational tactical analysis that needs to be applied to the political goals and methods of OWS. I hope there are folks making an effort to steer the movement(s) in ways that won’t just solidify and codify those we are trying to persuade.

  72. Shar
    December 23, 2011 at 6:41 AM

    Did they set up camp again when they returned to the park?

  73. don gould
    December 23, 2011 at 6:52 PM


    In corporate towers where fascists grow
    Controlled by bankers row on row
    They mark the place for us to die
    Most know not the reason why
    Yet for their pleasure all men must go

    We are the dead short days to go
    We live, feel the dawn, see sunset glow
    Love and are loved, and soon we may lie
    In poisoned fields

    Take up your quarrel with the servants of the one below
    So we may live .We must overthrow
    The torch of truth, be yours to hold on high
    To show who it is that would have us die
    We must strive to let the whole world know
    Or we shall sleep in poisoned fields where nothing grows

  74. alan logston
    December 26, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    While standing on a corner waving a sign that said Buy American Made a person drove by and flipped me the middle finger or was that Gold Finger!

  75. -S
    December 27, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    Interesting, this tactic was also accidentally used in Albany, NY last Thursday when the police tried to remove the tents. As the last tent was about to be dismantled, the occupiers suddenly took it, and “floated” it to City Hall, then all round town for a long long walk, escorted by the police. It was surreal. Then back to the park… where unfortunately violence happened, pepper spray, etc.

    Here are some photos
    and an account of the day, step by step:

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  77. Tony
    January 1, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Suggested theme song for this tactic (Destination Calabria):


  78. Danie
    January 1, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    I continue to be amazed at the selective rage the Occupy movement employes in its actions and rhetoric. Why is there no occupation of the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, Fannie May & Freddie Mac, the houses of the representatives on the House Financial Services Commitee who were complicit in every phase of the housing crisis?

    Do you people realize that without these government institutions, the improper financial gambles of a *minority* of businesses would never have happened?

  79. CapslockFury
    January 1, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Unfortunately, you yanks are all up the creek.

    What I find personally insulting (and so does most of the world) Is that you stood idly by whilst hundreds of thousands of people died (die? has it ever stop happening?)in your stupid wars on Terror without so much as a bloody token resistance to it.

    What had to happen to you to stop being so damn selfish as a country? Someone had to hit you at your wallets. And hit you hard.

    Your fall is coming, like it or not. The protests just really show up how far gone you all really are.

  80. geoff matheson
    January 1, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Yes, tactical retreating is valuable.

    just a small point, a phalanx is probably the most organized military structure in know existence. In generally consisted of 10ft spears carried by 6 ranks of soldiers. Manuvering a wall of spears was extremely difficult — protestors are not phalanxes which have flanks and sides btw.

    ok now that this is out of the way. Your post outlines the primary justification of skirmishers and touches on some points of gorilla warfare. But you must know, as Sun Tzu puts it, a smaller force will always succumb to a larger one.

    Some advice: The police will chase your tail for a while but, easily have the means to establish a containment area. It all comes down to intelligence. You need to remain one step ahead. Employ these tactics within zones that contain public transportation, which can’t be cordoned off.

    • geoff matheson
      January 1, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      The real branch of military tactics you should examine is: swarm tactics

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