Affinity groups, in the context of nonviolent direct actions, are small groups of friends or like-minded people who join together for mutual support and safety while participating in protests. They will be the cells and decision making units of the large resistance action we will begin on October 6 in Freedom Plaza.
The way to begin forming an affinity group is to reach out to the people closest to you; family, friends, political allies and coworkers and start talking to them about why you are planning to come to DC in October. When you find others who are interested in going as well, have a meeting, maybe a potluck dinner, and talk about what is going on in your lives and the world that makes each of you feel called to participate at Freedom Plaza. Once you establish your group, it helps to have ongoing meetings to develop relationships and to plan logistically for the action.
Affinity groups function as a communal network without hierarchy or leaders. Decisions are made by consensus; people really listen to each other and respect everyone’s individual vision and opinions. When you meet as a group, it’s important that the Pledge and Nonviolence guidelines for the Freedom Plaza occupation get discussed thoroughly. It’s also important for affinity groups to attend formal nonviolence training, either before you get to DC or when you arrive. Nonviolence trainings will be available for everyone at Freedom Plaza.
During actual direct actions, people have different roles to play as part of an affinity group. Some are willing to risk arrest and will be at the front lines of the action. Others will do support; not risking arrest but helping with legal, media, jail support, police liaison, facilitation, outreach, spokes councils and in other ways. Both roles are essential to a successful action.
Spokes councils are meetings where one representative from each affinity group is empowered to speak for their group. In this way, everyone is represented. Decisions about strategy and tactics for the large direct actions will be made at spokes meetings. These decisions will also be made by consensus in a democratic and participatory way.
For those of you who can’t form or join an affinity group before you get to DC, we will be helping new affinity groups arise from the nonviolence trainings we will hold at the plaza. Also, some affinity groups are open to having new people join them at any time, even right before an action. That being said, if it’s at all possible, we encourage you to come to DC with a group of friends; an affinity group.
Another World is Possible