Direct Action

Good Manners & Affinity GroupsGood Manners & Affinity Groups by Mask Magazine & Tides of Flame

An easy-to-print and distribute one page zine introducing anarchist affinity groups and basic street tactics. It includes tips on how to form affinity groups, how to move within demonstrations, basic crowd navigation, security tips, and even suggestions for how affinity groups can be used outside of a demonstration context.


(A)BC's Mini Guide to Protesting(A)BC’s Mini Guide to Protesting

This is a mini-zine that functions as a pocket-sized guide to protesting. It provides basic information in an easy-to-distribute zine, covering topics such as what to bring (clothing, food, water, etc), what not to bring (drugs, alcohol, piercings, etc), what you will encounter at a larger protest (i.e. affinity groups and other concepts such as “diversity of tactics”), and more. There is also a list of websites for more detailed information on the topics covered. It’s the kind of zine that would be helpful to mass produce in a situation where there were going to be a lot of people newer to large-scale protests in attendance.


Voting vs. Direct ActionVoting vs. Direct Action

This short zine from Crimethinc provides arguments against voting and electoral politics in favor of direct action. It also includes a section titled “12 Myths about Direct Action” that deals with common criticisms of direct action.


    The Radical CheerbookThe Radical Cheerbook

    The Radical Cheerbook is a collection of cheers intended to be used by radical cheerleaders at anti-capitalist protests. Radical Cheerleading is a tactic aimed at bringing energy and excitement to what might otherwise be stale and boring protests. An old radical cheerleaders website describes it as “…Protest+Performance. It’s activism with pom poms and middle fingers extended. It’s screaming FUCK CAPITALISM while doing a split.”


      Resistance in the StreetResistance in the Street

      Resistance in the Street is subtitled “A Guide to Keeping Safe & Free in Crowd Control Situations.” Known in some circles as an update to the classic “Fight the Man and Get Away Safely” zine, Resistance in the Street focuses on how to keep free from law enforcement while still keeping an offensive posture in the streets. It looks at how to dress, affinity groups, the importance of defense and knowing escape routes, basic police choreography, and the like. While some of the technology has no doubt changed since the early 2000s when this zine was written, much of its advice would still be helpful to those participating in a street conflict.


        Radical DefenseRadical Defense

        Radical Defense covers defensive street tactics for those who will be engaging in mass street actions. It covers evacuating wounded people, breaking police holds, unarresting, breaking police lines, and defensive equipment. The zine accompanied a workshop that was given during the anti-globalization era, but much of the information is still relevant.


          Pepperspray, CS, & Other “Less Lethal” WeaponsPepperspray, CS, and Other ‘Less Lethal’ Weapons

          This zine is a lengthy exploration of the various “crowd control” weapons that police and other security forces often use in protest situations. The zine includes not only tips for identifying which weapons have been used/are being used, but also outlines proper treatment protocols. There are also suggestions for purchasing gas masks and other protective gear. As always, the information contained within should be used for reference only and ideally accompanied with a street medic training.


            How to Organize a Protest MarchHow To Organize A Protest March

            This zine provides a basic outline of how to organize a “protest march.” This is defined as your basic, run-of-the-mill march. Whether or not we like them, anarchists seem to frequently get into positions where they feel compelled to organize such marches. This guide will help you do that with ease–or help make a case against doing it…


              How It Is To Be FunHow It Is To Be Fun

              This zine is an introduction to anarchist street tactics, designed to be distributed to new anarchists. It was written in the context of the upsurge of interest in anarchism during Occupy Wall Street and covers what to expect at protests, how to form affinity groups, what to do at a protest, etc. It’s a good accompaniment to older zines on the topic such as Blocs, Black and Otherwise.


                Health and Safety at Militant ActionsHealth and Safety at Militant Actions

                This zine was produced by an action medical collective called On The Ground. It’s goal is to empower—not frighten—people by giving them information about the potential risks and dangers of militant protest. It covers what to wear, staying safe and sensible in an action, what to do in case of injury, and chemical weapons aftercare.


                  Fight the Man and Get Away SafelyFight The Man and Get Away Safely

                  This zine looks at how to safely survive situations created by police violence and confrontation. It gives practical advice on how to get out of those situations without going to jail or the hospital. The zine focuses on defensive measures and basic police movement.



                    Excited DeliriumExcited Delirium

                    Billed as “a protestor’s guide to ‘less-lethal’ weaponry,” this zine is an incredibly thorough introduction to commonly used police weapons. The zine provides a detailed look at all different types of weapons including electrical weapons (such as the TASER), chemical weapons (tear gas, pepper spray, and others), projectiles (pepper balls, rubber bullets, bean bags, flash-bang grenades). The zine ends with some suggestions on how to protect yourself from these weapons.


                      Earth First! Wolf Hunt Sabotage ManualEarth First! Wolf Hunt Sabotage Manual

                      This comprehensive guide explains the how and why of hunt sabotage aimed at saving wolves. With an increasing number of states (including Michigan) allowing for the hunting of wolves, this zine outlines one response. From the inside: “Hunt sabs are an effective tactic at stopping, inhibiting or drawing attention to the massacre of wildlife. Hunt sabs most often include direct intervention and are meant to disrupt a hunt. Actions can take the form of a blockade comprised of dozens of people at the office where wolf hunting permits are sold, or along roadways where hunters are engaging in hunts. But it also includes powerful propaganda, such as flyering communities before a hunt, or sharing this manual at your local NRA meeting and outside permit offices.”


                        Don't Back Down!Don’t Back Down!

                        Don’t Back Down! Is an an introductory zine on what to expect in mass protest / direct action scenarios. The zine has some basic information on supplies for street protests, affinity groups, consensus, and medical information pertaining to tear gas and pepper spray. However, what really sets this zine apart is its discussion of herbal first aid, tips for diffusing violence (against people, not property), an overview of participating in a riot, emotional aftercare, and post-traumatic stress disorder


                          Do-It-Yourself Occupation Guide: 2012 ReduxDo-It-Yourself Occupation Guide 2012 Redux

                          The original version of this zine comes out of the 2009/2010 university occupations in the United States. It was updated in 2012 to include lessons learned from Occupy Oakland. The zine provides an overview of techniques and tactics that can be used to occupy a building. Includes a look at various roles (media, legal support), reconnaissance, barricading, defending occupied spaces, and much more.


                            Direct Action TacticsDirect Action Tactics

                            This zine offers a broad overview of direct action tactics. It begins by explaining the importance of affinity groups and moves into an overview of a broad range of direct action tactics including: pie-ing, squatting, culture jamming, jail solidarity, lock-downs and blockades, sabotage, street reclaiming, guerrilla gardening, and more.

                            The zine is made of of selections from a book titled We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anti-capitalism that was edited by Notes from Nowhere. The original book chronicles the anti-capitalist/anti-globalization movement of the late-1990s and early-2000s. Consequently, a lot of the tactics discussed here come out of that context.


                            Direct Action Survival GuideDirect Action Survival Guide

                            A basic introduction to participating in a large-scale direct action protest (although the tips would likely be helpful for smaller scale actions too). Covers affinity groups, staying safe on the streets (crowd dynamics, police, using the buddy system, etc.), basic medical information, chemical weapons (their use/effects and how to mitigate those effects), and jail and court solidarity. If you are going to read just one zine on direct action, this is arguably one of the most important.



                              CopseCopse A Cartoon Book of Tree Protesting

                              This is a comprehensive cartoon book explaining various tree protesting tactics (blockades, tree sits, sleeping dragons, etc). It came out of the anti-roads efforts in the UK and is a good primer for people interested in forest defense.



                              Bodyhammer; Tactics and Self-Defense for the Modern Protestor

                              In this zine, the Black Cross Collective out of Portland provides a basic overview of first aid and health concerns as they relate to militant protests. The zine includes a “protest fashion” section on what to wear and what not to wear to a protest, an overview of medical conditions you may encounter at a protest (and how to help folks), and dealing with pepper spray and tear gas.


                                Blocs, Black and OtherwiseBlocks, Black and Otherwise

                                This zine provides an overview of how to participate in and organize a black bloc. It covers basic tactics and logistics from “what to wear” to “what to do.” The zine compiles two texts by Crimethinc: the original “Blocs, Black and Otherwise” from Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook along with a text titled “Fashion Tips for the Brave” that provides additional ideas and tips for anonymity in within a black bloc.



                                This zine is designed to give readers a basic overview of how to do blockades. It covers human blockades, either by linking arms or using tools such as lockboxes and u-locks, as well as non-human blockades. If you are looking for anything beyond an overview of the basics of the tactic, it is recommended that you check out Basic Blockading.


                                Blockade, Occupy, Strike BackBlockade, Occupy, Strike Back

                                Blockade, Occupy, Strike Back is a zine version of a newspaper that was distributed by anarchists during the student strikes and social conflicts in Montreal during the winter and spring of 2012. The zine is a good primer on street tactics with pieces on forming crews, occupying buildings, security awareness, and tips for participating in militant street protests. This is great for distributing to newer folks and useful for those who have been around a bit longer as well.


                                Basic Recon SkillsBasic Recon Skills

                                This zine gives an introduction to reconnaissance and scouting for planning actions of whatever kind. The zine goes into quite a bit of detail beyond just scouting a target or site of an action and also looks at stealth, tracking and camouflage. You can’t argue with the author(s) assertion that “accurate information is the foundation of successful action planning.”


                                  Basic BlockadingBasic Blockading

                                  A very detailed zine that provides an excellent introduction to blockading. The zine covers everything from evaluating why you might want to utilize a blockade as a tactic to the nuts-and-bolts of blockading. It provides an overview of common tactics including lockboxes, tripods, u-locks, and more. There is a helpful discussion of how to plan actions covering surveillance of the target, group communication, framing the action, safety considerations, etc. There are also thoughts on dealing with police, media, and employees.


                                    Banner Drops, Stencils, Wheatpaste, and Distributing InformationBanner Drops, Stencils, Wheatpaste, and Distributing Information

                                    This zine compiles four “how to” guides written by ACTIVATE out of Grand Rapids, MI. The guides provide basic information on how to do banner drops, stencils, wheatpasting, and distributing information.


                                      Art & Science of Billboard ImprovementArt and Science of Billboard Improvement 2nd Edition

                                      A classic pamphlet by the Billboard Liberation Front, this zine provides an introduction to modifying billboards to change their message (sometimes referred to as “culture jamming” or “subvertising”). It includes a very detailed section on how to do this ranging from ideas for design to discussion on how to climb billboards. The zine also has a history of the Billboard Liberation Front.


                                        An Activist's Guide to Basic First AidAn Activist’s Guide to Basic First Aid

                                        In this zine, the Black Cross Collective out of Portland provides a basic overview of first aid and health concerns as they relate to militant protests. The zine includes a “protest fashion” section on what to wear and what not to wear to a protest, an overview of medical conditions you may encounter at a protest (and how to help folks), and dealing with pepper spray and tear gas.


                                        Daily Disrespects and Direct Actions by Cathy Ramos de la Aguilera

                                        Street Harassment

                                        A feminist guide to analysis and direct action


                                        Other / Mixed Resources

                                        External resources: Activist Trauma Support’s Sustainable Activism and Avoiding Burnout flier. Street Acts have resources and ideas for street theatre, clowning and creative campaigning. Road Raging – a classic from the ’90s: the campaigner’s manual to fighting new roads, but most of this is applicable to any campaign. Well worth reading. Campaign Against Cruelty – an animal activists’ handbook. All round manual – useful bits for all. Well worth reading. Delia Smith’s Basic Guide to Blockading Schnews DIY Guides – lots of useful How-Tos on all sort of things, from naughty to nice.


                                        Erick Lyle / SCAM

                                        book-coverOn The Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of The City

                                        Erick Lyle’s On the Lower Frequencies is at once a manual, a memoir and a history of creative resistance and fun in a world run rotten with poverty and war. Whether handing out fake starbucks coupons for free coffee, dropping flyers on mall-goer’s heads that say “aren’t you glad this isn’t a bomb?” or having punk shows in laundromats, Lyle (formerly known as Iggy Scam) has shown the world over the years that you can resist consumerism and have fun and have a sense of humor at the same time.

                                        Lyle, an icon of the samizdat zine scene of the 1990′s, is equally at home on mainstream radio, where he has done several commentaries for This American Life. His “Secret History” traces the evolution of cities, for sure, and of neighborhoods, and of dissent, but also of his own thinking under the pressure of experience, from his early focus on the more outre forms of resistance, through more contemplative times as he becomes preoccupied with the passage of time and starts to articulate an affirmative vision of the type of society he’d like to live in and fight for. In writing, for example, on Reagan’s death he feels relief that came from realizing that by the time Reagan had actually died, his teenage rage had ceased being the motivating factor in his life, that what keeps him going is the sense of what he wishes the world actually looked like, inter alia, public art, squats, free breakfast programs, illegal peace demos in san francisco, punk holidays (joey ramone day, in which people gather and do a secret santa exchange of mixtapes), even a booklist.

                                        But he never seeks refuges in the abstract. In one of the book’s key set pieces, “The Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt’s Donuts Story,” Lyle celebrates the history and passing of a donut shop that was once a nerve center in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood. On one level, it’s an epitaph for a beloved hangout. On another, it’s a metaphor for the racial and economic tensions that can accompany gentrification. And on yet another, it’s an untold history of an entire neighborhood via a single retail establishment.

                                        Scam gives the reader inspiration for living defiantly in these times.

                                        scamfirst4_lgScam: The First Four Issues by Erick Lyle

                                        Scam was equal parts an introductory guide on how to get things for free and punk memoir. Youths experienced trainhopping, house shows, and cross country tours that sought out swimming holes. Community was sought and celebrated through generator punk shows on Mission Street, hunting for cans of beer on Easter, and Food Not Bombs. Angst was manifested while stealing electricity from lampposts, squatting in Miami, selling plasma, tagging freight trains, wheatpasting, spraying salt water into vending machines, returning stolen merchandise, and dumpstering as seen through the lens of a young punk. Scam has gone on to inspire a generation of imitators, the highest form of flattery.

                                        Scam #1

                                        The first issue of Scam finds Erick Lyle, having recently turned 18, living in a punk house, paying minimal rent and working a crappy job. I hate to overgeneralize, but it’s about what people would expect from an 18-year-old who has a crappy job and lives with a bunch of punks. There’s lots of how-to style articles on topics like how to scam CD stores by ordering from Columbia House, and writing to companies, complaining about the quality of products you’ve never tried, to get free food. There’s also a ton of short blurb reviews covering everything from the new (in 1991) Screeching Weasel album to Danny Bonaduce. The highlights of this issue are interviews with Sam McPheeters (of Born Against) and Ben Weasel (uh… if you don’t know who Ben Weasel is, you can probably stop reading here). The recipe for Ole’ (that’s “O-lay”) Chickenhead wine doesn’t look bad either (it involves frozen orange juice concentrate and a balloon), but as I’m on hiatus from drinking, I’m going to have to let someone else who’s bold enough to try it let me know how it goes.

                                        Scam #2

                                        Coming in at over 100 pages, Scam #2 (known as the “Mutiny in Miami” issue) is the longest part of the compilation. The style of “Mutiny in Miami” is totally different from its predecessor: it’s less how-to-manual (although there are a few) and more of a flowing narrative of Lyle’s life. The tongue-in-cheek reviews of Seventeen magazine have given way to reviews of Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie and Muhammad Ali’s autobiography. The interviews have shifted focus to local Florida bands.

                                        Honestly, it tends to ramble. Lyle writes some beautiful passages about digging through trash piles and staying up all night, but the issue is a little hard to read due to the length of some of the stories (handwritten, even four 8 ½-by-11 pages can get hard to read), but overall the content makes it worth the slog through Lyle’s layouts (now I know why my elementary school teachers always made me skip lines). The highlights of “Mutiny in Miami” include the descriptions of the abandoned Mutiny Hotel (where Lyle is squatting) with press clippings from its heyday as a cocaine smuggler’s paradise in the 1980s, and the descriptions of the lesser-known parts of Miami. There’s also a story by Ben Weasel. If you’re into that kind of thing.

                                        Scam #3

                                        The third issue is fairly similar to “Mutiny in Miami.”  It doesn’t have the heart, though. During the time between #2 and #3, it seems that Lyle secured a working typewriter (or maybe a few different ones), for which I am fucking grateful. I hate to say it, but the issue sort of falls flat compared to the other three issues included. It doesn’t have the sophomoric humor of the first, the wistful beauty of the second, or the strong ideological stances of the fourth. It isn’t bad, but it lacks the unifying theme of all the other issues. I’m just going to mention the highlights, which include an article on Alex Trebek and the Hobo Underground, an article about being broke, and how to scam a free trip to Europe.

                                        Scam #4

                                        Issue 4 is mainly written in San Francisco. It has a much more activist feel than any of the other issues included in the compilation. Though Lyle’s activism is definitely evident in the first three issues (working to establish a Food Not Bombs program in Miami, etc.), this issue features numerous interviews with people from across the country working to change their communities. He interviews graffiti artists that give away free vegan burritos in San Francisco, a person who began a bike co-op in Philadelphia, and the people who began the San Francisco needle-exchange program. Lyle himself has begun a community newspaper for his neighborhood in the Tenderloin, and has begun using vandalism to express a deeper meaning than “Fuck the pigs.” There are still some interesting interviews with bands and a couple of good stories, but as a whole the issue is much more dedicated to activism than music. Highlights include: an article on living in the San Francisco Landfill, an interview with the Biotic Baking Brigade (political pie throwers!), and a search for urban fishermen in five American cities.

                                        scam5half_lgScam #5 1/2: Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt’s Donuts Story by Erick Lyle

                                        Scam was always the zine in which the Miami punk, Erick Lyle, showed us examples of creative resistance and fun in a world run rotten with poverty and war. Whether it was handing out fake starbucks coupons for free coffee, dropping flyers on mall-goer’s heads that say “aren’t you glad this isn’t a bomb?” or having punk shows in laundromats, Erick has shown us over the years that you can resist capitalism and have fun AND have a sense of humour at the same time. It’s nine years later and this issue is no exception. This issue finds Erick, more than ever, preoccupied with the passage of time, in the form of obsessing and waxing poetic about the history and demise of one of the Mission’s strangest and most beautiful corner stones, Hunt’s Donuts. Imagine a place where you always look first when something is stolen from you to find a simple crook pawning it inside the donut shop, where “Open 25 hours” somehow makes sense, where you never imagine that the dream can come to an end. A fun little foray for those of us obsessed (or soon to be) with classic Bay Area history.

                                        scam6_lgScam #6 In the Streets of Buenos Aires

                                        Scam #6 is a first-person travel essay about stencil art in Argentina! Erick has taken his chapter from the book Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority, and turned it into a zine making it more accessible for those not ready to take the leap of book-ownership. We’re treated to the story of Buenos Aires, interviews with radical stencil artists, & the political motivations of street art in Argentina. After a serious economic collapse in 2001, as a result of borrowing from the IMF. Most street rioting ensued from all kinds of people and stencil art was used to spread messages.

                                        scam7_lgScam #7

                                        Erick seeks to quash the myth that Miami is a 24 hour party and/or police state. Visitors know little of his city except for what they’ve seen during Art Basel or the FTAA protests, and Erick attempts to shed some light on the real Miami. He’s assigned to cover Art Basel for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and takes the opportunity to profile Take Back the Land, a Miami-based group of activists helping the homeless squat bank-foreclosed homes. Erick briefly interviews Shepard Fairey who’s in town painting a mural for Art Basel, and he also shares his thoughts on the FTAA protests in 2003.

                                        scam9_copy0_lgScam #9: The Story of Black Flag’s Classic First Album, Damaged!

                                        Based on an expanded version of a story Erick Lyle wrote for the LA Weekly to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black Flag’s Damaged, this zine includes primary interviews with Henry Rollins, Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, Kira Roessler and others around the band, including Mike Watt, Joe Carducci, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Colver, and Dave Markey. But what it really contains is the story of an excited, young Erick Lyle discovering a vent for his rage and pent-up emotions that a magical, impossible-to-replace historical album could encapsulate. And in 64 pages he successfully lays out the importance of these people, their place in time, and the aftermath of it all. Excellent punk journalism that gets to the heart of the matter without simplifying it.

                                        cover art: Josh Bayer