#wecantmarch London meet-up

Just a few days after the #wecantmarch hashtag took off, a few of us met in London to share thoughts and ideas. This wasn’t an official meeting for “organisers”, and we would love for similar meetings to happen all over (in real life or online!) and for your ideas and contributions to be published/shared with the rest of us too. We would also love to hear thoughts and responses to these ideas!

 

We talked broadly about the massive impact that #wecantmarch could have on radical movements.

As we attempt make non-frontline activism more visible and accessible, we hope to shift emphasis away from single events such as marches. To build and participate in a radical movement is to keep momentum, which is dependent on the work that is done in between and behind such “bigger” events. This is also part of bringing into the movement the types of activism and labour which is usually invisibilised, relegated, and undervalued. We want for movements to have a greater understanding that things such as childcare and online activism are active political roles, and not merely supporting ones.

 

We had various ideas about how the blog can move forward.

The blog can be a hub of resources for people seeking to get involved in more accessible forms of activism. Just a few categories of such activism that we came up with were:

  • Anti-repression and legal work. This could include: information about legal system/processes and how to support those who are arrested or dealing with the criminal justice system; information and direction on how to write letters to incarcerated people, and how to coordinate letter-writing workshops; and ready-to-use/disseminate bust cards and legal information.
  • Propaganda design. This could include: how to go about designing flyers/posters, which programmes to use and how to use them.
  • Radical uses of arts/crafts. This could include: how to make banners, book-shields, zines, and all kinds of other stuff, as well as already made ones which can be re-used or re-printed.
  • Online activism and media. This could include: how to navigate and manage the likes of twitter accounts, facebook pages, email listservs and blogs most effectively; how to ensure safer spaces in online spaces; how to ensure an effective security culture in online spaces in order to preserve anonymity when desired and avoid doxxing. Doxxing is when someone’s personal information is published or “outed” online or to others.
  • Information on radical self-care and mutual aid.
  • How to stay safe when we do go on marches. This could include: having ready-made templates of cards with medical information and how to respond in emergencies.

The blog could also be a space for people to continually contribute with more resources and also with their personal experiences, testimonies, thoughts, ideas, and art. There was talk of setting up a Youtube channel, as an option for those who would rather or are more able to contribute and communicate without typing and/or reading.

 

Aside from the blog, we talked about how we can do outreach and impact different collectives and organisers to ensure that different forms of activism and involvement are available and accessible.

For example, in the run-up to events or marches such as the one planned for June 20th 2015, how can we work towards having an impact? Various suggestions were made:

  • Some individuals and collectives have already offered to make placards and hold them for those who cannot be there. We could get in touch with organisers and see how they can get more people involved who won’t be able to attend the march.
  • We could coordinate a mentor/buddy system at demonstrations, where people can stay with others, hold their placard, communicate for them if necessary, help them with whatever needs they may have, and take out potential risk zones,
  • Radical conferences and events are a good way for some people who can’t march to get involved. People could run workshops at conferences to make more accessible, and we could provide organisers with resources on how to make their conferences more accessible.

 

In terms of making involvement with #wecantmarch beyond using the hashtag as accessible and inclusive as possible, a number of suggestions were also made:

  • Offline meetings should be as accessible as possible. Comments and questions can come from twitter, and we should try our best to meet the various needs of those who attend. For example having a sign language interpreter when necessary, or using an effective sign to speech app.
  • We should try to publish things in easy read where possible, if anyone has experience in writing in an easy read style this would be incredibly useful for increasing accessibility.
  • It was suggested that we host semi-regular open addresses on the blog. This is an open thread as a blog post, which has a brief blurb with a live, moderated comment section. Different open addresses could have different themes and would be a great chance for people to pool ideas and thoughts.

 

The meeting was incredibly positive, and so many amazing ideas were brought to the table. But they are just ideas – nothing is set in stone, and nothing will happen over night. We would love to hear any comments, queries and opinions about any of the ideas brought up and hopefully we can make some of them happen! We’d also love for these kinds of posts to continue – there is already talk of other meetings around the country both online and offline, and if you want to email your summaries/feedback to wecantmarch@gmail.com we can publish them. Please feel free to contact us regarding the format of this post, and if you found it to be inaccessible, so that we can change it for the future.  Always in solidarity!

 

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#wecantmarch London meet-up

What is #wecantmarch?

On May 9th, 2015, thousands of people marched in London and demonstrated in Cardiff, just a day after we woke up to a Tory majority government. Several more rallies and demonstrations have been planned for the next few weeks (e.g. Sheffield and Bristol), and local and national anti-austerity groups are finding the energy to fight back.

Not all of us are able to participate in these actions.

Within its first 24 hours of being thought up and used, thousands of tweets were made using #wecantmarch and it gained a huge amount of attention on Twitter. So many amazing radical people – disabled, trans, queer, people of colour, working class, international, parents and those with caring responsibilities, and people who intersect many of these categories – are contributing to the hashtag. People are offering stories about why they cannot march against Tory cruelty, celebrating alternative forms of radical activism, demonstrating their eagerness to help with direct action, and calling for activist communities to value our work. The aim of #wecantmarch is to coordinate and crowd-source resources so that those who cannot participate in traditional direct action can be active. We are calling for a radical shift of narrative regarding how we do activism and direct action: we want to move away from considering those able to be on the front line as top of the activist hierarchy, and expose and celebrate all of the other, more accessible radical work that can be done, and is being done. To build a radical movement, and effectively fight back against Tory and State violence, inclusivity, diversity and accessibility are crucial.

It is important to note that we in no way oppose marching, demonstrations, or radical direct action. Black Lives Matter, for example, has been a phenomenal force, an extremely powerful movement, with so many radical aspects – from blocking highways, occupying spaces (even police stations), “Black Brunches”, in addition to an incredible swell of legal and jail support, community-building efforts, online organising/activism, and fundraising. We are completely and utterly in favour of radical and revolutionary action, but “radical action” can manifest itself in so many shapes and forms. What is usually assumed to be the most valuable work of direct action – marching, occupying, civil disobedience, etc – can often be inaccessible to those the hardest hit by Tory policies and State violence. Some of us can’t stand or walk around for hours, some of us can’t stand in crowds of thousands of strangers, some of us are rightly terrified of the police, and for some of us the risk of being arrested is life-threatening.

Since the hashtag took off on Twitter, there have been so many incredible contributions and suggestions, but we’ve also noticed an attempt from some who are anti-protest and anti-direct action to co-opt our struggles for ‘proof’ that radical action isn’t helpful. Don’t make that mistake. We’re not here to silence or shame protesters, we’re here to highlight that people can be pushed aside, alienated and invisibilised by traditional and most visible methods of action. Solidarity efforts, behind-the-scenes work, fundraising – to name but a few – are not only essential to the fight, but make demonstrations and direct-actions themselves safer and more accessible.

This Storify has been set up to collect some of the useful suggestions that came through Twitter. We are currently organising this blog so that we can offer it as an accessible resource.

ANOTHER exciting thing to have come from this is that some people have taken it upon themselves to organise #wecantmarch meet-ups in their towns and cities, to discuss among themselves how they can contribute to direct action! This is incredible, and there’s already talk of meetings in London, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Liverpool.

If you’re interested in helping us out, contributing to the blog, or want more information, please email: wecantmarch@gmail.com.

What is #wecantmarch?