Long Term Short Term
Over the years I have spent many a happy hour on pickets or leafleting. It is something which needs to be done if one is involved in active campaigning.
Yet no matter what one is campaigning about, there is always a need to see it as a part of an ongoing process, as change can not be achieved in a hurry.
That is why every picket, demonstration, or leafleting session needs to be properly planned.
This is where a little campaign theory comes in to play.
Protest as A Form of Communications.
If we are demonstrating then we need to be clear about just what it is all be about, and we need to carry more than leaflets in case any passer by wishes for more information.
If we are there to make our views and information known, then it is a more of a presentation event.
It is best described as being the difference between a demonstration / picket at which leaflets are handed out as part of a protest, and a leafleting session where the prime object of the exercise is to communicate.
If one wishes to communicate, then the first time we will be there to hand out leaflets, then it might best be billed as a communication session.
It is going to be outside of the offices of an organisation one is campaigning about, then getting the right information on the leaflets is important.
That’s a way of informing those who go in to the building why we are there.
While on the second or further occasions, you can turn up with a lot more poster boards. and make it a much more visual event.
Then if they still don’t do anything about the issue, we can move on to the fun part, which might consists of street theatre, blockades, etc.
In between all of this you can also do a morning or afternoon leafleting session, which is aimed at the staff, decision makers, and advisers who work for the organisation. This is with the aim of making sure that they know just what the issues are all about.
On the other hand you can also do regular leafleting sessions just to show your concerns, and which are very much part of a larger set of campaigning aims.
For example: – By regular leafleting sessions outside of army recruiting offices as a part of ones long term anti-militarist campaigning.
Last of all there are the support pickets outside of both embassies & consulates. These may be one off events, or ones which are done on a regular basis.
A word with Plod.
One last point to keep in mind.
Even if there seems to be no official response to your protest, then are noted, and are mentioned in the various reports which they make.
That’s why it is always a good idea to make sure to hand over a copy of the leaflet your handing out to their security, and ask that it is passed on to the right person in the building.
A cheery Good Morning as you shake them by the hand will also defuse any potential hostility they might show to you.
Just explaining that you intend to keep off any of their private land, that your purpose is to communicate, and how long you will be around can help too.
Then when plod turns up, you give then a cheery Good Morning, shake them by the hand, and tell them you have already talked with the security about what you are doing.
Now I know a lot of the comrades would never dream of doing so, but I’ve had more conversations about the issues I’ve been protesting about because of this willingness to do so than most activists could ever imagine.
[ Though I still would not advise anyone to give them more than your first name, and certainly not your date of birth. ]
Yes I know that many of these points are all very self apparent, but it is important to be clear about them in our thinking.
Leafleting sessions and pickets might note seem to be the most exciting activities, but they do build up support for any campaign we might be engaged upon.
They also give us the chance to chat with people who might not know much about the issue, and can sometimes encourage individuals to become involved in our campaigns.