Street Action/ Flashmob
Taking to the streets is one of the oldest and most effective means of protesting injustice. More recently, flashmobs, where groups of people seemingly spontaneously assemble in one place, have become a key feature in activism. Why not organise one of these activities to mark the Action Week Against Racism 2017?
Below you will find some Best Practice case studies with information you can use to help you organise your own activity. For general information on how to organise flashmobs/ street demonstrations, you can check out the useful articles from around the web listed at the bottom of the page.
If you’re planning a street action/ flashmob, don’t forget to tell UNITED so that your activity will appear on our international activity map! Just fill in this form, where you can also order free campaign materials.
Note: Laws on street demonstrations and assemblies vary by country. Make sure you have researched your local legal obligations before you start organising your action.
Best Practices: Street Actions
14th March is the anniversary of the foundation of the First Slovak Republic, the Nazi puppet state in Slovakia during the Second World War. Every year, Slovakian neonazis gather in Bratislava to march in celebration of the state and its leader Jozef Tiso. Luckily the group Bratislava bez náckov (Bratislava Without Nazis) was there this year to protest against the march.
In the days before the neonazi rally, the group organised a positive campaign to engage the public in the fight against racism and fascism. The activities organised included the screening of the documentary film about the horrors of Nazism Night Will Fall, which was followed by a discussion on the question of “hatred as folklore”. Participants in the discussion included Slovakian artist and filmmaker Tomáš Rafa, whose work deals with racism, nationalism and a host of other political and social themes, as well as Sergej Danilov, a former journalist dealing with the issue of extremism and co-founder of the campaign Sport Connects. Together they talked about the trend of rising nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other manifestations of hatred in our society, asking whether hatred has become part of Slovakia’s folklore.
There was also the opportunity for participants to create satirical collages with a humorous antiracist and anti-nazi message, which were then publically displayed under a bridge in Bratislava city centre. The choice of location was symbolic, as the bridge is named after the Slovakian National Uprising, which resulted in the end of Nazi rule in the country. There was also a reception at the exhibition with drinks and music.
On 14th March, far-right groups rallied and marched through Bratislava. Bratislava bez náckov coordinated a street blockade to counter the march. Antifascist protesters stood arm-in-arm across the street, holding banners with slogans such as “together against hate”, “no pasarán” and “stop fascism!” According to the group’s blog, the neonazis were protected by a police escort, while antifascist demonstrators were harassed and even arrested by police. However, the blockade was successful in forcing the neonazi rally to deviate from its planned course through the city’s historic centre.
Youth Centre Jajce organised a street event in the City Centre of Jajce on the 21st March. For this occasion they gathered and involved the volunteers from the youth centre to take an action and organise a simple but highly visible activity: they took different colours and a canvas on which they wrote this year’s Campaign message: “Mi se slažemo!” which means “We fit together!”
At 1 pm, a time when a lot of people can be found on the city square, they took the canvas into the city centre. Members of the public were invited to make a mark with their hand on the canvas using different coloured paints.
The action enjoyed great popularity and the banner created was presented in public spaces throughout the city. Pictures of the event were shared through social media and got a lot of attention, reaching lots of people and motivating them to join such actions.
For 21 March, youngsters from KRIK Youth Centre made a flashmob in the city centre of Skopje with an antiracist theme. The flashmob needed a few days of preparation. Volunteers chose this year’s campaign theme “We fit together” and decided to share the message through body language with a few simple moves. The flashmob took place at the time of day when most people were present in the city centre, so that it would have the maximum impact. A video was made of the activity and in the evening of 21st March in a local pub, a party with an antiracist message was organised. The gathering of activists after the action at the party was of significant importance: there was an appreciation of their work and effort, and they also invited more people to see the video, so that even more people got involved.
A group of volunteers from INEX attended a workshop on how to do street campaigning. Later on they went around Bratislava with campaign posters in their hands and invited members of the public to join the campaign, promoting the importance of the Anti Racism Week. People were approached in the street, information was provided and photographs were taken. The pictures were shared through social media, and lots of comments and questions followed about what the action was about. Volunteers also promoted the Action Week Against Racism in their daily activities by organising dedicated sessions about the campaign. During the evaluation of the action, volunteers highlighted that for organisations that want to do this activity, the most difficult aspect is approaching people and sharing the message with them.
Text by Ines Fetterley, Youth Worker, MultiKulti
The idea of having a Graffiti fest first arose when CID moved the “MultiКулти” Youth Center in a new building. There were some local graffiti artists who painted different graffiti on the building that didn’t necessarily promote the same values we as an organization do. So there came up a suggestion to invite those same artists to come and paint on our building, only with a little catch, they had to paint according to certain criteria that we set.
So we invited them, we sat down, and discussed what we would like to see from them, and they gave us ideas on what they can offer us. It was sort of a win-win situation, because the graffiti artists got to put their art on a building where it would be protected, and we got to send out a message we support in way that it appeals to our target group, the youngsters. So we decided to start organizing a Graffiti fest.
The latest Graffiti fest was held in August 2016. It was a two-day mini festival to continue the renovation of the youth center “MultiКулти”. During the event we painted the outside and the inside of the youth center in order to make it even more approachable and fun for the young adults and kids that come every day. The artists were given an idea of painting a mural of hands outside to show that even though we are all different, we are all the same in a way, which is also something we try to teach the two ethnicities in Kumanovo, through the work of our youth center “MultiКулти”. They incorporated that message in the graffiti painted outside. The best part of this event was that it also inspired them to start working on a project themselves that will involve spreading this message of equality around the city.
Further reading: guides from around the web*
- Global Exchange – How to Organize a Demonstration [pdf]
- Our Everyday Life – How to Organize a Protest or March
- Make Use Of – What a flashmob is and how you can participate
- Wikihow – Organise a Flashmob
- BBC – How to organise a successful flashmob
(*These websites are third party sites unconnected to UNITED, and neither UNITED nor our sponsors can be held responsible for any of their content or any use made thereof).