Civil disobedience is a direct form of regaining climate justice. We do not have time for peaceful conversations with politicians. We will not wait for political parties to make a choice that suits their short-term interests. We take matters into our own hands!
Civic disobedience is our manifestation of demanding systemic change. We will not stop the climatic catastrophe without closing coal-fired power plants, mines and open pits. Climate change can only be fought by combating a destructive economic system based on unlimited profit. Civil disobedience is the implementation of democratic forms of action. By self-organizing for a political purpose, we prove that more democratic ways of making important decisions are possible.
IN A GRASSROOTS MANNER, IN SOLIDARITY, IN DIRECT ACTION - WE RECLAIM THE POWER - WE FIGHT FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE
This means that we have agreed to common boundaries of our activities and have found methods that we consider to be right and effective. During the civil disobedience action we will:
Most of the infrastructure related to coal mining and transport is located in an open, unfenced area. Entering and being in such an area does not constitute any crime. Only "not leaving the area at the call of an authorized person" is an offense threatened by a fine of up to PLN 500. The condition of punishment is therefore also effective delivery of a call to leave (e.g. through a megaphone). Only after such a call, if you still do not leave the area, which should be allowed to you in a safe way, the police can issue fines YOU SHOULD NEVER ACCEPT ONE. It is likely that the police will want to detain those who did not accept the fine. They should not be accepted anyway - neither on the spot nor at the police station. Accepting the fine is tantamount to confessing and closes any legal path.
Entering a fenced area or a building can be treated as a crime of violation of a house peace, punishable by imprisonment for up to a year, fine or social work. This accusation is very often brought against activists, but many cases end in dismissal due to the lack of harm, or the punishment of social work, possibly with a low fine. To make such an accusation, the area must be fenced and not by a natural fence (ditch, moat). For those crossing the fence it must be clear that the fence is artificial and intentional (it must be a fence or barbed wire). The mere presence of "no admission" signs or a natural obstacle, such as a ditch, earth embankment or bushes, makes it impossible to recognize that a person crossing such a barrier has committed a crime.
There are also possible and probable allegations of a violation of the bodily integrity of a public official, which the police often treat as ancillary charges, ie they are "exaggerated". This is a relatively serious criminal charge, so you should protect yourself against it at all costs. A good idea is to avoid contact with officers, and in case of detention - not to resist and to avoid violent gestures towards the police. If you can, document the detention of people in your group. The recording of detention often helps defend the detained person against false accusation by the police. If you can bypass intervening officers or move away from them without physical contact, you don't commit a crime.
The destruction of property is a serious charge and is against our action consensus. Laws regarding the destruction of private property can be found in two legal acts - the Code of Petty Offenses and the Penal Code. If an item of low value, i.e. up to 1/4 of the minimum wage, has been destroyed, such an act is subject to the Code of Offenses (Art.124) and the accused person is punished by a fine, social work or detention for 5 to 30 days. If the case concerns the destruction of items of greater value, it is subject to Article288 of the Penal Code and then, in addition to the above-mentioned person, the accused may also face a penalty of 3 months to 5 years in prison. When being near the infrastructure, avoid activities that could permanently affect its condition. Fortunately, the infrastructure related to the extraction and transport of coal is not made of porcelain, so with minimal reason you should avoid such charges.
There is a likelihood of liability for losses that climate activists bring to fossil fuel companies. Yes that's right, climate activism is about giving losses to companies that destroy the planet. Persons listed on the site of the action may be sued by the company and the company may demand damages from them that would compensate for its losses resulting from the suspension of destruction of our planet for several hours. In such a situation, persons sued collectively (e.g. 30 people listed on one blockade) are jointly liable, i.e. they have to repay the entire sum awarded together and it does not matter to the court who paid what percentage. First, however, a sentence must be passed, which confirms that it was actually the persons concerned, and not someone else, that caused a loss in a certain amount and it is justified to pay compensation to the company. Lawyers working for the Climate Camp will defend such people and we will constantly collect money for their legal support.
Be sure to take part in the action workshop before the action. They will be organized the day before the action in three cities: Konin, Poznań and Warsaw! Take part in the plenum and / or make sure that at least one person from your affinity group goes to it and gives you all the information.
For the action pack: a bottle of water, food, something sweet, clothing adapted to the weather (assuming you can stay outside for a long time, without shelter from the sun, rain and other conditions), sleeping pad, full shoes, first aid kit (at least 1 per group), saline (available at any pharmacy), sunblock (preferably alcohol-based), medications you take permanently, anti-repression group phone number (preferably written with a marker on the body). Action kit issued before the action includes: a dust mask, a white work safety suit, a rescue blanket. Collect your set and take it for action. We also recommend taking your ID card or passport, as people who do not have documents may be detained for longer. You can find more about this topic in the section regarding refusing to identify yourself.
If you decide to take the secure it with the security code, if it's a smartphone, make sure it is encrypted. Consider taking a phone that you don't use on a daily basis, without any contact list, messages, etc.
Any dangerous items, illegal substances, alcohol, unnecessary items that can help you get recognized in the photos, personal notes, a notebook, any other data bank. If you have a serious eye defect, wear glasses rather than lenses, they are safer in case of contact with pepper spray.
Yes! In Poland, covering your face is not a separate offense or crime, either during or after the demonstration. We strongly recommend using dust masks, hoods, glasses, preferably throughout the duration of the action, but especially near cameras. It may also be a good idea to paint your face, especially around the eyes with a marker, or with ordinary makeup tools (e.g. dark, irregular spots), which significantly hampers the work of automatic face recognition programs.
During the action, stick together, pay attention to each other, take care of your health and well-being. In the event of detention of a person or persons from your group, contact the anti-repression group and provide them details or identification number of the detained person. If you know that this person has health problems, was injured, must take medication, suffers from allergies, etc., be sure to pass this information on to the anti-repression group along with the data. After the action, support people in a worse mental or physical condition.
Remember that you are responsible for the safety of not only your yourself, but also other people around you. Be calm and analyze possible threats. If you don't know what to do, think about it and don't act hastily. It is better to give up further participation in the action than expose yourself and others to loss of health or life. Remember that safety (as always) should be a priority for everyone taking part in the action.
If for some reason you find yourself near industrial machines (conveyors, excavators, etc.), keep a safe distance. Remember that such devices have many fast moving elements and it can be dangerous to approach them. Industrial machines have emergency stops, but don't try to use them if you don't know how to do it. If an accident occurs, call for help and try to turn off the machine, taking care of your own safety.
If you find yourself in an open-pit mine, remember that the steep slopes of the open pit may slide, which carries a potentially deadly threat. Water flows in the mine slopes, reducing their stability all the time. Do not walk on steep and very steep slopes, and if you accidentally find yourself in such an area, keep a distance from people around you and never, absolutely never, move over other people on which you can fall or throw something on them.
Stick with your group. Take care of other people around you. Keep calm, try to avoid violent reactions that can cause panic or escalate police violence. Avoid physical contact with officers of the police and other services, especially making movements with your arms and legs towards them, because any such contact may be the basis for pressing charges against you.
Recording police activities is important because it can be used as evidence of the innocence of persons detained and the police exceeding their powers. Consider, however, whether the scene you are filming will not harm the participants of the event in the same way? Will someone be charged with your photo or video?
The presence of the camera annoys the police so they may try to force you to turn it off. However, there are no grounds for an officer to take any special action against you due to the fact of recording. In particular, it cannot be considered that merely filming or photographing a public official constitutes a disturbance or hindrance of intervention.
We recommend having an ID card or passport during the action and giving it to the police when you are IDed. The police can also identify us on the basis of another document with a photo and serial number, or a statement of another person, but it is better to have an ID card. The authenticity of other documents can be more easily questioned and the police can take this as an excuse to keep you off for longer. If you do not provide your ID at the time of identification, you will certainly be subjected to personal control. Providing false data, as well as refusing to provide a document, if you have it, is an offense, punishable by a fine. If you decide not to take your ID card or anything else that can identify you and refuse to provide your details, you will also commit an offense and the police may stop you until your identity is established.
Activists in the Czech Republic and Germany successfully avoid criminal and civil sanctions by not taking identity cards for actions and refusing to provide their data. In this case, it is also important not to disclose your data in any other way, e.g. by phone from the police station, or by having a library card, credit card, etc. We do not recommend this strategy because we cannot say for how long the police will want to detain people who will act in this way. Persons refusing to provide their identity may also be deprived of contact with a lawyer. Almost certainly, if identified, the police will punish them with an additional fine. However, if you are released without identification, there is no chance of any further consequences of participating in the action. If you intend to use this strategy, please inform the anti-repression group BEFORE the action. Leave your ID card with a trusted person who is not involved in the action and will be nearby all the time having the opportunity to contact the anti-repression group. Don't leave your ID with us or with random, newly met people. We do not recommend using this strategy, but we will also provide anti-repression support to those who choose it.
Personal search is the so-called pocket and luggage flicking. During personal search, you have the right to request the presence of a person indicated by you. Personal search must be carried out by persons of the same sex. Demand that they give you a clothing search report and a receipt for collection of your stuff. You don't have to sign anything.
The Covid Act introduced an additional provision in the Code of Offenses regarding non-compliance with police orders. In accordance with Article 65a: "Who intentionally, not complying with orders issued by a police officer or a Border Guard, on the basis of law, specific behavior orders, prevents or significantly impedes the performance of official duties, is punishable by detention, restriction of liberty or a fine". Nowhere, however, has it been defined what is this failure to follow orders or obstructing official duties. It therefore remains in the decision of the court to be assessed what the consequences will be in a situation where a given person e.g. has not heard the issued order. It should also be reiterated that the mere recording of officers' activities cannot be included as "obstructing official duties".
The anti-repression group will be present during the event. The purpose of this group is to gather information and help people who have had contact with the police, have been detained or repressed in any other way. That is why it is so important for every person to have the anti-repression group's phone number - preferably written somewhere on the body with a waterproof marker.
When to contact the anti-repression group?
What information should I give to the anti-repression group?
And nothing more! Don't give details of the action or your role over the phone. Provide only the information that the police will provide you with.
The policeman who stops you must:
provide their rank, first name and last name; plaincloth police officers show their police ID card so that you can read and write down the data contained in it
provide the legal basis and the reason for undertaking the police activity.
Insist on it. Prevention troops (white helmets) do not have to show IDs at demonstrations, their commander must do so. You have the right to write down identification numbers and names. If you have been detained - discussing, resisting and jerking can lead to an escalation of violence from the police, remember this when taking action.
Talk to other detainees about your rights. Exchange names, addresses, and if you want to become anonymous - the number given by the anti-repression group so that the first person to leave can contact this group and let them know who is still at the police station. If you have any "illegal" items with you that may harm you, try to get rid of them.
The police officer writes down a protocol in which they must specify the exact, in minutes, detention time and the reason. You are required to provide: name, surname, date of birth and data about your profession (e.g. worker, clerk, student, unemployed). Demand the right to contact a lawyer! In your situation, a lawyer will be provided by an anti-repression group, so call our number! A police officer will ask you if you submit a complaint to the court for detention. Say you want to submit it (remember you don't have to do it at the police station, you have 7 days). In the report there is information about the reason for the detention, which you certainly do not agree with, so you can refuse to sign it. If you sign anything, make sure that there is no information there about your confession or other planted documents! Always read carefully what you sign! Request a copy of the protocol. Don't say anything from the moment you receive it.
Refuse to testify - you have the right to do so.
If you have allegations from the Criminal Code, please provide your real address. The police often check the address you provided. In the interview report, enter your current delivery address, where you actually check your correspondence.
It is possible that the police will want to trick you and question you as a witness who is not entitled to refuse to testify, but in accordance with art. 183 paragraph 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP), you can avoid answering the question if answering this question could expose you or your immediate family to criminal liability. You have the right to notify your family and / or your lawyer, A lawyer's telephone number will be provided before the action - say you want to notify them. If the police refuse - insist, do not give up, threaten with a complaint. You have the right to an effective phone call to a lawyer (and not just to one phone - a missed call is not the end of the story).
You can stay in the cell until the investigator wants to question you (to write the interview report or memo). Refuse to testify! Do not sign anything anymore! You will discuss defense tactics with your lawyer later. Usually detention lasts about 2-6 hours. It cannot exceed 48 hours. The condition for a longer detention is that a formal charge is brought.
If you are a victim of police violence, you have the right to demand immediate medical examination and a forensic examination (you have to pay for it, but it is very important evidence!). After the release, you must immediately visit another doctor and do the forensic examination again (at any time of day or night in Emergency Medical Services, in the Department of Forensic Medicine, but also in the hospital, emergency room - unfortunately, the examination costs) or get at least information card describing injuries from an ambulance, hospital or surgeon. Do it, the document you will receive is recognized in court evidence of crime, otherwise you will not have any arguments for your defense.
Report to anti-repression group! Provide information about other detainees. Also report if you have witnessed physical abuse, abuse of competence or detention by the police. It often happens that victims find out many months later that legal proceedings are pending against them - then information about the abuse of power is priceless.
It is also very important that you get in touch with the anti-repression group if you have experienced any repressions. Leave us your phone number and / or email.
After the action, it is good to change the clothes, if their appearance indicates that you participated in it. The police can search for participants based on photos and videos. Come back from the action in affinity group, never alone.
The experience of brutality and repression, as well as stress related to participation in direct action can leave permanent traces in us - cause trauma. Let us be aware of this. Let's watch ourselves and other people around.
Possible reactions include: states from agitation to stupor and fatigue; stomach ache, headache, muscle tension, nausea; from outbursts of anger and crying, through panic attacks, fear, to the feeling of emptiness and the inability to feel anything.
How to recover?:
Stay for a while in a quiet place where you feel safe and surrounded by people who you trust and who can take care of you.
Work through this experience. Find words to describe what happened. Tell your friend about it. Write down what happened. Express it in any way that suits you best.
Do you feel you need support? Do not hesitate to come to the safe space, which will be available on the day of the action. We will provide you with understanding, care and professional psychological support, which can help you better understand what is happening with you.
You will be able to use this emotional support also after returning home. If you experience a difficult situation that will come back to you in the next days or weeks, and you feel the need to talk about what happened and how you feel, you can write to: email@example.com. The EPPA initiative is literally Emotional Help for Anarchists and Activists. It does not offer therapy, but support in the form of listening, understanding and discussing ways of dealing with this difficult experience.
Do you want to help others? Remember:
Traumatized individuals may want to isolate themselves, have trouble asking for help. They need understanding and empathy more than compassion and intrusive interest.
If you see that something is wrong - do not wait for the person to ask for help. Offer to hear them out and ask if you can do anything for them.
Don't give advice unless someone explicitly asks you to. Sometimes working with trauma is not about finding a specific solution, but about working it through and telling about a difficult experience.
Don't make anyone talk. If a person does not want to, do not encourage them persistently to tell about what happened. Instead of helping, it can hurt them.
Legal assistance We provide legal assistance to all persons participating in the Camp for Climate action. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you receive a warrant or when the police try to contact you.
The material was based on the zines and brochures of the collectives: Anarchist Black Cross and SPINA.