The contents of this article are for information and educational purposes only. Patriot Propaganda does not officially recommend using any of the tactics, techniques or procedures presented. 


To physically shut down something bad (the World Trade Organization), to protect something good (a people undergoing genocide), or to make a symbolic statement, such as encircling a target (the White House).



Blockades commonly have one of two purposes: first, to stop the bad guys, usually by targeting a point of decision (a boardroom), a point of production (a bank), or a point of destruction (a clearcut); or second, to protect public or common space such as a building occupation or an encampment. 


Blockades can consist of soft blockades (human barricades, such as forming a line and linking arms) or hard blockades (using gear such as chains, U-locks, lock-boxes, tripods or vehicles). Blockades can involve one person or thousands of people, and can be a stand-alone tactic or an element of a larger tactic like an occupation. 


Successful blockades can be primarily concrete or communicative. Either way, all participants should be clear on the goals. For example, if your blockade is symbolic, it does not require a decision dilemma. If, however, you have a concrete goal, like preventing people from entering a building, you must ensure that your blockade has the capacity to achieve that goal. In other words, make sure you’ve got all the exits covered.


Whatever the case, it’s important to lead with your goals. Don’t think in terms of less or more radical; think in terms of what is appropriate to your goals, strategy, tone, message, risk, and level of escalation.



Below are a few tips to keep in mind, adapted from the Ruckus Society’s how-to guide, A Tiny Blockades Book:


All roles are important. A good support team is essential.


Know your limits. Make a realistic assessment of your capacity and resources.


Scout, scout, scout. Spend a lot of time getting to know your location.


Know your choke points. These are the spots that make you the most secure and pesky blockader. Choose a spot that your target cannot just work, walk, or drive around.


Practice, and prepare contingency plans.


Don’t plan for your action; plan through your action. Think of the action as “the middle,” and expect a ton of prep work and follow-through — legal, emotional, and political.


Have a media strategy. Make sure your message gets out and your action logic is as transparent as possible. Don’t let communications be an afterthought.


Eliminate unnecessary risk. Make your action as safe as it can be to achieve your goals 


Do not ignore power dynamics within your group or between you and your target. Race, class, gender identity (real or perceived), sexual identity (real or perceived), age, physical ability, appearance, immigration status, and nationality all affect your relationship to the action.


Dress for success. Make sure that your appearance helps carry the tone you want to set for your action. Dress comfortably. Ensure that support people bring water, food, and extra layers.


Be creative. Have fun.



When employing a blockade with a concrete goal, your ability to hold the space will depend on your decision dilemma. If you are able to prevent your target from going out the back door (metaphorically or literally), you have successfully created a dynamic where you cannot be ignored. 


This article was adapted from Boyd, Andrew. Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution. OR Books, 2012.


Other References:

  1. Sharp, Gene. From Dictatorship to Democracy. Serpent’s Tail, 2022.
  2. Beer, Michael, et al. Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021.
  3. Popović, Srđa, and Hardy Merriman. CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle: Students Book. Serbia, CANVAS, 2007.
  4. Stephen, and Steve Lambert. The Art of Activism: Your All-Purpose Guide to Making the Impossible Possible. OR Books, 2021.
  5. Marovic, Ivan. The Path of Most Resistance: A Step-By-Step Guide to Planning Nonviolent Campaigns, 2nd Edition. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021.
  6. Sholette, Gregory. The Art of Activism and the Activism of Art. New York, United States, Macmillan Publishers, 2022.
  7. Clark, Howard; Garate. Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns. Revised edition, War resisters’ International, 2022.
  8. Thompson, Nato. Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the Twenty-first Century. Melville House, 2015. 
  9. Gavin, Francesca, and Alain Bieber. The Art of Protest: Political Art and Activism. Gestalten, 2022.
  10. Miller, Matthew, and Srđa Popović. Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World. Random House, 2015.
  11. Alinsky, Saul. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. Vintage; Reissue edition, 1989.
  12. Bernays, Edward. Propaganda. Ig Publishing, 2004.
  13. Abbott, Daniel. The Handbook of 5GW: A Fifth Generation of War? Amsterdam, Netherlands, Adfo Books, 2021.

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