What is it?
A blockade means preventing someone from accessing a specific place by creating a physical barrier.
The safest way of staging a blockade is a peaceful sit-in. This means sitting in front of a building, road or development in a way that forces people to walk through your group.
To keep confrontation at a minimum, make sure you leave enough space for the people to pass through, but that the messages you are showing are readable.
Even though this action is peaceful and does not aim at disrupting an essential service, it may be illegal in certain countries or in certain spaces. Do inform yourself carefully before organising a sit-in. Moreover, there have been instances where the police have intervened and arrested demonstrators even though the action was non-violent and not explicitly illegal. Therefore, be very careful at your context and attentively evaluate the risk you are facing, before taking action.
How do you do it?
First you need to identify the site you want to blockade and decide why you have chosen that site.
Once your target is identified, gather with a group of people and stay at the place as long as possible – or until your demands are met. Make sure you take placards and information leaflets so passers-by understand why you are there.
Why and when should you use it?
Blockades have been used several times, usually in relation to protests against infrastructure such as nuclear plants, pipelines, dams. They can also be used to protest about workers’ rights.
You should use a blockade when you want to send a clear message.
The important thing is not to block access to an area, but to make sure that whoever steps in is aware of the problems connected with that particular area.
For example: you may be campaigning against the threatened destruction of a beloved forest. You can gather at the entrance to the forest while displaying posters that explain why you are there.
Blockades can bring to life the barriers other people experience in a creative way. For example, blocking certain spaces can help people understand the barriers disabled people face navigating public spaces.
Works best in combination with:
An awareness campaign related to a specific issue that involves a certain specific place.