Direct Action Zines

Note: Zine PDFs are hosted on Archive.org, a service that does not log IP addresses.

(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.

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10 Steps for Setting Up A Blockade

This is a more recent (2014?) introduction to the topic of blockades. It begins with an introduction to blockades and a consideration of why one might want to utilize a blockade as a tactic, including a brief look at their recent usage. From there it moves into the practical aspects of creating a blockade, looking at scouting, roles during a blockade, supplies, entry and exit strategies, and more. The zine comes out of the blockades against various oil pipelines in North America and as such it is heavily influenced by those experiences.

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A Demonstrator's Guide to Responding to Gunshot Wounds

Gunshot wounds are becoming more common at demonstrations. This is not to say you should panic—millions of people have participated in demonstrations over the past four months, while only dozens have been shot. Still, as political conflict escalates in the United States, it is important to think about how we can care for and protect each other. The good news is that even if you have no medical training, there are things you can do to maximize the likelihood that a person who is shot in your vicinity will survive—simple things like learning the location of the nearest trauma center. Though this subject can be stressful to contemplate, the following guide may equip you to help save lives.

Although this text draws on the practical knowledge of a number of people with both institutional training and street experience, it does not represent professional medical advice. It includes some information that will chiefly be useful to experienced street medics, but most of it is relevant to any reader. It is not intended to stand in for actual training in gunshot wound response or other medical interventions. We encourage readers to seek out additional training, skills, and life-saving critical response tools.

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Activist Trauma & Recovery

This zine explores post-traumatic stress and how to recover from it. Post-traumatic stress can take many forms. Some may find themselves more scared of the police or of crowded situations; others may become angry, while still others feel paralyzed and vulnerable. You may feel changed as a person. Opening spaces to exchange experiences and communicate our emotions are important first steps to deal with experiences of violence. The text provides suggestions for identifying PTSD and addressing it.

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An 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.

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Art & Science of Billboard Improvement

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.

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Banner 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.

Includes tips on how to make and secure banners, how to design and deploy stencils, how to make wheatpaste, and offers some ideas for distributing radical info and propaganda.

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Basic 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.

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Basic 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.”

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Blocing Up

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Blockade, 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.

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Blockades

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Blocs, 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.

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Bodyhammer: Tactics and Self-Defense for the Modern Protestor

Bodyhammer is heavily influenced by the White Overalls movements in Europe and their creative use of body armor to neutralize the so-called “less lethal” weapons used by police to stop protests. The zine (it’s really more of a packet than a zine) looks at shield varieties and construction, shield deployment, helmets, body armor, group movement, and shield walls and formations.

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Civilian's Guide to Direct Action

This guide by Crimethinc is a concise introduction to “direct action.” Covering what it is and what it can be used for, the guide focuses on the practical aspects of how to undertake a direct action. It covers a wide range of topics including planning an action, preparation, scouting, media, legal support, and more. It’s essential reading for those new to anarchist direct action.

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Copse: A Cartoon Book of Tree Protesting

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Cover Your Forehead!

While older, this zine collects a series of important tips for folks wishing to be as anonymous as possible in the context of street protests or other actions. The specific lessons here were drawn from the case of an anarchist arrested in Portland for attacking banks and a police substation. However, there have been numerous cases where folks were identified after a protest or riot whether that be due to surveillance cameras, posts on social media, or images taken by others at a protest. This threat can be mitigated by dress as simply as possible – all black with no identifying or distinguishing features is a good choce.

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Defend the Territory

Sub-titled “Tactics and Techniques for Countering Police Assaults on Indigenous Communities,” this zine from Warrior Publications provides a thorough overview of the types of repression that are frequently used against indigenous blockades. The context is largely anti-colonial blockades in the occupied Canada, but the information could be useful elsewhere and in different contexts. The guide includes an introduction to how police operate, chemical agents, less-lethal weaponry, etc. There is also an extensive guide to armored vehicles (including how to counter them with anti-tank ditches!). In addition to the exploration of police equipment, the guide also looks at various tactics for undertaking blockades and implementing them.

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Direct 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.

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Direct 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.

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Do-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.

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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.

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Earth 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.”

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Elements of A Barricade

This zine is a theoretical and historical explanation of both the idea and reality of “the barricade” in social struggles. Tracing the use of barricades in proletarian struggles in the urban areas of revolutionary Europe in the mid-1800s to their present use in urban street conflicts and indigenous blockades, this zine uses the barricade as an entry-point to discuss wide-ranging but related issues such as blockades, sabotage, and modern capitalism. The writing is relatively dense, but it presents some important points and encourages a deeper consideration of the relationship between theory and tactics.

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Excited 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.

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Fight the Man and Get Away Safely

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Good Manners and Affinity Groups

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Health and Safety at Militant Actions

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Hong Kong Protest Tactics & Roles

This zine is a compilation of tactics and roles used by Hong Kong protesters that have been developed within the #AntiELAB movement since March 15, 2019. It was produced to show how (effective) roles and tactics used in the Anti ELAB movement against the police could be utilized in the United States. The zine outlines a variety of different roles that people can adopt in a protest and even provides an image showing how a crowd confronting the police could be organized to effectively take on the police in a street demonstration.

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How It Is To Be Fun

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How to Organize a Protest March

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In Defense of Smashing Cameras

This text presents an argument in favor of smashing cameras and against the practice of photographing demonstrations. Arguing that the practice of taking photos is detrimental to social struggles as it increases repression, encourages passivity, and simply gets in the way – this zine encourages people to adopt a confrontational approach towards photographers. Alongside this, it presents a series of suggestions and tips for photographers who identify with social struggles and who wish to see themselves as participants rather than spectators. This text raises important questions that folks need to engage with in light of the pervasive surveillance that exists in the contemporary era.

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It’s Vacant, Take It!

This is the 3rd edition (Fall 2013) of the Homes Not Jails squatting zine. While the guide comes from a group based in San Francisco, many of the tips would be helpful for anyone squatting regardless of their location. It includes tips on finding comrades/friends to squat with, finding a building, securing a squat, dealing with the law and/or property owners, and more. Some of the San Francisco specific references will need to be overlooked for your local context, but most municipalities have similar resources for researching property. It’s one of the best zines on squatting.

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Mask Up: How & Why

This zine explains how to cover your face in a protest situation. It recommends a simple t-shirt mask to conceal as much of your face as possible in order to prevent surveillance and repression. Spreading a practice of concealing one’s identity in protest situations is an excellent practice to help keep people safer. Regardless of whether or not you are doing anything deemed illegal by the state, masking up is always a best practice to avoid doxxing and harassment.

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Navigating Trauma

This zine – written by Mutual Aid Disaster Relief – explores the trauma that can result from political work. It discusses the emotional toll that can result from seeing state brutality, humanitarian crisis, and natural and human-created disasters up close. This toll can include complex and immediate acute distress as well as long-term post-traumatic stress. When these feelings go unaddressed, they can result in burnout and people retreating from the political work. While this zine's context is mutual aid work in the context of disasters, this type of trauma can occurs in other situations (street protests, legal fights, etc). The zine offers suggestions for identifying this trauma and strategies for healing.

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Of Martial Traditions & The Art of Rebellion

This zine by Seaweed is the opening of a conversation about what anarchists can learn from martial (military) traditions. Arguing that if people want to claim space for anarchy and autonomy they must be prepared to fight, Seaweed explores how marital traditions could influence resistance. The essay blends military history dating back to Hannibal and Sun Tzu with lessons drawn from contemporary indigenous land struggles. It’s also important to note that Seaweed doesn’t argue for building militaristic cultures of resistance, but rather is encouraging the creation of a broad effort aimed not only at building a destructive capacity but also an ability to heal from the damage brought by civilization.

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Pepperspray, CS, & 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.

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Radical 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.

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Resistance 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.

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Resistance, Rebellion, & Repression

Sub-titled “Questions to Consider when you’re in the Streets”, this zine by the Durham Anti-Repression Committee was published in order to spark a dialog about the internal policing of social movements. It addresses common points of conflict among groups of protesters with different goals: the wearing of masks, dragging items into the streets, the use of peace marshals, and safety in the streets. The zine provides a thoughtful engagement with these topics and would likely be of use for people needing a document to help facilitate similar conversations of tactics and strategy where they live.

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Riot/Control

This zine by Research and Destroy New York City skillfully juxtaposes excerpts from police crowd control manuals with advice from various direct action and rioting tactical manuals published over the years. It has a lot of useful information both about crowd control tactics and rioting. It covers chemical weapons, what to wear, blockading, armor and padding, crowd tactics, barricading, shields, projectiles, and more. It’s one of the most comprehensive guides to this kind of stuff around.

That Horse Is A Weapon

This is a very detailed examination of how horses are used by police for crowd control. It includes a discussion tips for dealing understanding a horse’s behavior based on what their bodies are saying, the situations cops are prepared for based on the equipment the horses are wearing, etc. This zine does an excellent job of demystifying a tool frequently used by police during civil disturbances.

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The 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.”

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The Walls Are Alive!

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Voting vs. Direct Action

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Warrior Crowd Control & Riot Manual

This is a very detailed explanation of crowd control tactics and police behavior in riot situations. It looks at everything from weaponry and armor to formations and arrest procedures. Along with the coverage of police tactics, the zine offers a wealth of knowledge for those participating in militant street confrontations including suggested equipment, tips for acting within crowds, avoiding arrests, and undertaking and planning specific actions. The idea is that by understanding both police and crowd tactics, those engaging in street confrontations can be more effective. In addition to the excellent information, the guide is also well-illustrated with hand-drawn illustrations.

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