SURJ Quick Guide to Planning Your Action
As we’ve heard from the Movement for Black Lives, #BlackLivesMatter chapters across the country, and our national accountability partners, the most important thing we can do right now is to show how outraged we are about anti-Black police brutality. Here’s a short list of steps you can take to plan an action at your local police station or Fraternal Order of Police office.
Get Your Team Together
Find one to six other people who can make time to work on this with you over the next week. Here’s a sample recruitment pitch: “Black organizers are asking White people to show up boldly right now - this is a time a lot of people are paying attention, including our local reporters, and we can inspire ever more White people to take these killings personally. If you and I spend an hour or two each day to pull off this action, I think we can make an impact.”
Set Dates & Times
As soon as you have your people, set dates for the action itself, and working backwards, a final prep meeting the night before, and a first public prep meeting to recruit people towards.
Refine Your Message
If there’s a local organizer who could help you understand the demands Black & Brown communities have had of the local police, reach out to them to incorporate a local message to your action. Otherwise, choose one in the Messaging document.
Create an Event Page on the SURJ Website
And start inviting people. Also, reach out to at least 5-10 people individually, and ask them to recruit people to the event page. It doesn’t spread on its own.
Make a List of Tasks
Make a list of tasks you want to recruit people for (get ideas from this checklist). In the days before the action, you’ll need people who can buy sheets/dropcloths for banners and signs for posters, and people who can paint them, and someone to host your painting party. The day before and the morning-of, you’ll need someone to call local reporters (we can give you a list). If you put this on a Google Spreadsheet, you can collaborate with others right away.
Scout Your Location
Take photos and video if possible (pretend to be tourists taking photos of each other), and draw a diagram of the location to share with others later. Folks will appreciate if you can share as much detail with them at the final action prep meeting.
Timing for your Action
If you are planning different levels of action, some of it higher risk (arrestable) and some of it not, think about the timing. There are benefits to doing the riskiest action first. There are also benefits to having it when the biggest group of people are present. Think it through and talk it out with your team and your coach.
One of the most important tasks! One of the hardest supplies to find is often a bullhorn or other loudspeaker (at least 40 watts; sometimes you can borrow them from a school). If you can’t find someone to loan you one, it’s worth buying one and asking for donations later. Other supplies: dropcloths, posterboard, paint, markers, easel paper (for your prep meeting).
Paint Signs & Banners
How-to guide here. You might also print out large-format photos of Black people killed by police (available here).
Make a Final Plan
For who should arrive when, which cars will transport which people and supplies, and what will happen when you get there, and when you’ll debrief later. Should be a clear “Before”, “During” and “After” schedule. Remember to plan for turnout calls to media; read the media checklist for more, and email email@example.com if you need a local press list.
Action Prep Meeting
If you’re not risking arrest, you’ll want to gather people today at least a day or two before to get help with final materials prep, and to expand recruitment. The most useful thing you can do is often to set aside 30 mins at the meeting for everyone to get out their cellphones and call the people they know, to convince them to come, and write up “RSVPs” on easel paper so everyone can see (and get excited about!) who’s coming.
Print up a short handout you can give to people on the street (ideally no larger than quarter- or half-page). Check this folder for examples.
Prep Speakers & Chant Leaders
We want to plan to keep the energy up for at least a couple of hours - that means lots of alternation between speaking, chanting and singing. Draft up a schedule, alternating every 5-10 mins between those three, and recruit people to take turns “on the mic”. (The schedule is a loose guide; don’t think you have ‘stick to it’ exactly.) Check the Messaging doc for ideas.
Want a coach to support you in planning your action? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll connect you with someone who can talk you through your action.