There are many aspects to running successful, safe, creative and inspiring mass actions.
Examples of Mass Actions
CounterAct has supported some of the largest civil disobedience events across the continent:
- From the consistent long running blockades at sites of fossil fuel extraction like:
- the Leard forest blockade, which saw Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC) re-shape what the community response would be to expansion of coal mining. More than 300 community members were arrested over years of resistance; or
- Camp Binbee at the frontlines of the fight to Stop Adani, which saw similar commitment and community building with many larger actions;
- To the biggest walk on/trespass action in WA history in defence of the Beeliar Wetlands;
- To large convergences – resisting uranium mining, defending forests, or speaking up against refugees in detention.
We’ve been there, supporting, training, and learning.
More recently, the People’s Blockade of the world’s largest coal export facility in Newcastle amassed thousands, with over 100 arrests – numbers previously only seen in the Break Free action in Newcastle in 2016.
We’ve also supported many marches and rallies that have shut down cities with overwhelming numbers. On racial justice issues and more, as well as huge numbers of young people from School Strike, or large disruptive climate justice actions with Direct Action Melbourne, or Extinction Rebellion. These events galvanise, build community and inspire.
We will be writing more in mid 2024 and including case studies.
Features of Successful Mass Actions
- Excellent preparation and creative elements involved from the beginning.
- A safe environment and pathways to action for people of all walks of life to get involved in mass protest or civil disobedience for the first time.
- Solid legal support – before, during, and after the event. Always bear in mind the principle: “the action isn’t over until everyone has been through court”. This includes lawyers on hand for advice and representation, legal observer teams, excellent police liaison and confident legal briefings both prior to, and during the action.
- Leadership on ground – we don’t need leaders, but we do need leadership. There must be trusted people willing to take those first steps. Whether that is walking onto a coal mine site, tearing down a fence to allow thousands to reclaim urban bushland, or holding space for people to feel safe during what could be their first arrest.
- We gotta have fun! Creative elements – from music, to props, to theatrical story tellers. They don’t just inspire engagement. They help change the narrative in our favour, and build capacity for people to hold out longer.