Planning Your Protest Against Wall & Detention Profiteering
The below are general suggestions for planning your action. Anyone planning an action should make sure you are familiar with local laws and regulations, including those related to trespass, that might inform your planning and action. For help, the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild are great resources and have local chapters in many places.
Step One: The basics
Choose your target, location, and the date & time for your protest. Include your core partners-- individual or organizational-- in these decisions where possible.
TARGET: Nationally, the Partnership is focusing on Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s high-profile company and the company with the highest capacity to bond federal construction projects and are asking people to visit their corporate offices in your city if there is one. Alternatively, you can visit another company, like a construction firm or detention investor or operator.Click here to see the BH corporate offices or contractors in your area. If you would like instead to visit a financer or operator of ICE detention facilities, you can search for locations near you on their websites.
LOCATION: This will likely be determined by your target, but if that target has multiple locations consider the pro’s and cons of each: accessibility, visibility, etc.
DATE & TIME: Choose a day the week of May 8 and a time for your action. The best times for press coverage are generally mid-day (noon) or early evening (5 pm).
Step Two: Create a plan for your protest
The basic structure for your event we recommend is a delegation to the company followed by a picket and brief speak out program outside of the company’s office-- but please get creative! A few ideas to get you started below.
DELEGATION: If you choose to do a delegation, some or all of your group should meet near the company’s location and go together inside. Ask to speak to the most senior manager on site about whether this company will commit not to profit from the border wall or deportation machine (specific ask will depend on who you're visiting). While you wait to get a response from reception and/or building security as to whether the manager will speak to you, you can chant, sing, hold a mini-speak out amongst yourselves, or wait quietly.
If the manager agrees to speak to you, ask that person their name and deliver to that person this letter. Share personal testimony about why companies should not profit from hurting immigrants, human suffering and ecological harm. The talking points linked below offer some ideas for points to make. Verbally ask for the company’s commitment not to participate in the building of the wall or the deportation machine. If the company commits, thank them and ask how you can follow up to affirm this commitment. If the company refuses to commit, tell them we will continue to demand this of them. As you exit, chant or sing together.
If the manager will not speak to you, give the letter to reception and/or security and ask them to deliver it along with your message that we will not accept companies profiting off the division of families. You can decide whether to try to stay inside for a while, chanting and/or singing, or to leave immediately. Make this decision based on your group’s comfort level and specific context, including whether you have been specifically instructed to leave the premises, understanding the limitations of free speech on private property. When you do exit, chant or sing together.
Key questions: Who will participate in the delegation-- how big should the group be? When possible it is great to have faith leaders take part. Who will speak for the group? Will the group choose to stay until ordered off the property? Who will make the call when to leave?
PICKET/PROTEST & PROGRAM: If your entire group did not attend the delegation, the delegation should report back what happened inside. If the company committed not to build the wall or build/operate detention centers, celebrate this victory together before dispersing. If the company did not commit, follow the report back with chanting, picketing, and leafleting. After about 20 mins, bring folks together for a speak out program (10 mins). Folks can share why they are there, how they are impacted by Trump’s immigration policy, and what their vision is for a just immigration system. If you choose to do theater (like building a miniature wall and knocking it down), now is a good time! Follow this by 10 more minutes of chanting, picketing, and leafleting before closing out with the chant “we’ll be back!” (Note: timing is only recommended-- media demands and other considerations could change the timing/order).
GETTING CREATIVE: Consider what kind of theater you could do. Can you use boxes or blocks to build a small wall and knock it down with a big justice sign? Build a small wall and then transform it into a school or bridge? Can someone dress up as “Trumpty Dumpty”? (Google image search can offer some inspiration.)
Step Three: Reach out to turn out
Reach out to ally organizations and individuals to ask them to participate in the protest and to turn out others as well. There’s a sample turnout flyer here, which you can modify with your specifics.
Consider sending a turnout email to your list with a link to your Action Network event, and ask allies if they would share. If you think it will help turnout, you can create a Facebook event in addition to your Action Network event, but it is important to make sure you set up your event on Action Network.
Step Four: Prep materials and determine roles
Prepare the materials for your event:
- Demand letter for the delegation (for Berkshire Hathaway OR for construction contractors OR draft your own for other companies)
- Chant sheets
- Public leaflet for passersby
- Press advisory (edit with your action’s specifics)
- Press release (edit with your action’s specifics)
Determine roles for your event:
- Delegation speaker
- Speak out participants
- Chant leaders
- Media spokespeople: When possible, this should include folks who are impacted by Trump’s immigration policy. Here are some suggested talking points for creating a cohesive message across cities.
- Police liaison: If the police come, this person would talk with them and resolve any issues. This person should familiarize themselves with the basic rights of protestors and be trusted by the group not to take risks unilaterally.
- Street theater participants
The day before the protest
Put the final touches on your materials, confirm your turnout/participants, and send your press advisory to local press. Print copies of your press release to have on hand at the action for any press who show up. Print the letter you are delivering to the company.
During the protest
Have fun! Take lots of photos and/or video. Tweet and post to Facebook & Instagram using the hashtag #NoBanNoWallNoRaids. Feel free to tweet at the company you are visiting, if they have a Twitter account. Tag @p4wf on Twitter and Partnership for Working Families on Facebook so we can share your content.
Make a note of the day and time of the delivery and to whom you delivered the letter (name and position). After the action, send nowall@forworkingfamilies an email with this information. If the person you speak to will not identify themselves, provide a description.
Immediately after the protest
Send out your press release to local press outlets.
Day after the protest
Thank everyone who turned out, and share press clips and other content with the Partnership and your participants by email and via social media.
DOs and DON’Ts
DO be creative and stay focused on the message: no profiting off of dividing families!
DO make sure everyone knows the basic plan for the action and is comfortable with it. lf you are new to organizing an action, DO make sure you know the rules in your city regarding amplified sound or other laws that could impact your action. Your local ACLU or National Lawyers Guild chapters are good resources for that information.
DO talk to passersby about why you are there and ask them if they support your call.
DON’T get drawn into arguments with passersby or with employees of the company, and do not get physical or violent.
- DON’T block ingress or egress during picketing and make sure to allow sufficient space on sidewalks for pedestrians to pass.
DO remember: We are in the majority against this awful wall!