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Final warning !!

Saturday 16 March 2013

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This text is the work of a few people from the ZAD who were present at some of the clashes with the police. It is an analysis of our experiences, and aims to both inform all those who are willing to come to help us defend our home, and also to share experiences of many people resisting police operations in one place. We hope it will help all those who do not have very much experience of this kind of thing to be better prepared to cope with the violence of the state, and especially to more effectively resist and slow down the destruction of the ZAD. It aims to enrich the collective knowledge of self-defence against the police, and to help people to avoid taking unnecessary risks or being a victim of police brutality. This is not a guerilla manual or a legal guide, others have already done this better than we could. We have therefore tried to avoid repeating what we have already read in documents available on the subject, which we will refer to if the reader is interested in learning more. You will not find advice like "always have saline and the phone number of a lawyer on you", or recipes for Molotov cocktails here. It is more like a collection of various reflections, and advice on good habits and mistakes to avoid, individually and collectively during confrontations with police on the ZAD.

We have all chosen various methods of resistance against the monopoly of state violence, and all of these methods are welcome since they guarantee our unpredictability, and are therefore our greatest strength to face the disciplined forces of the state. It is clear that the state is less and less tolerant of alternative experiences and active opposition movements to its technocratic projects. As violence is its only form of dialogue with us, we say that it is therefore not possible for us to be bought or or convinced. War is the continuation of diplomacy by other means, said Clausevitz. That is why the debate between violence and non-violence is and will remain sterile when we are confronted with robocops, gas and truncheons. There is a time to sit at a table and discuss, but there will always come a time when we need to defend our homes. Our struggles are against the guard dogs of capital and therefore all tactics are welcome, to the extent that they do not increase the degree of violence already present due to the police, and do not directly endanger comrades. That is why it is important to address and prevent errors and divisions that have too often caused us harm.

Now let’s leave this part of the debate and get onto the practical side of things...

The road does not belong to us. We must be wary whenever a police operation is underway to avoid it as much as possible, especially if alone or in small groups. Consider yourself in enemy territory as soon as you set foot on a road, especially since in the ZAD they can be a trap- often you cannot escape them because of hedges, ditches and barbed wire. If you need to use a road, look around you gradually as you go to identify the "emergency exits" in case you meet with the police. Also have good prior knowledge of the terrain - this it is the key to success for any guerilla. If you only know the roads of the ZAD, on the day of a police operation you will be completely lost due to being forced to avoid them, and you will also lose lots of time getting around all the other obstacles and trying to figure out where you are.

The road allows fast movement of heavies and vehicles; a necessity for effective intervention of “mechanized” infantry, that is, police transported by trucks. This dependence on roads is why we make barricades, which are useful to slow the enemy but certainly do not to stop them permanently in their offensive. Hence we often hear: "We can not hold a barricade against the cops." This is not a reason to run off when they arrive, since there is generally a delay of several minutes between them arriving at a barricade and the attack itself. We need to use this time saved by the presence of a barricade to prepare the defence and show the enemy our determination to force them to fight where we choose to fight, that is to say as far as possible from the place to be defended, and on a road which they will have to go down. This defence must be done in the spirit of inevitable retreat before the enemy, because most of us fear a full-on confrontation and do not have the temperament of a warrior, also the cops will do anything to avoid one, using instead their famous tear gas canisters which force us to retreat. Some people can forget this due to bravado. It is therefore necessary to have a point of retreat other than the road, wide enough to allow the rapid passage of dozens of people in a few seconds. A ditch following a slope surrounded by barbed wire is therefore out of the question. They will allow your passage, but not that of all the comrades who will follow you if you have to run away when being charged at by police. A field which is easily accessible by a wide opening large enough to allow tractors would be ideal for this. It should be borne in mind that what is important to us is the defence of land off the road, because this is what we can succeed at. In the current state of the balance of power, we are condemned to lose the road during a police operation, but we can not only stop but also make the enemy retreat in the fields, forests and paths. The cops rarely depart from their vehicles, therefore they rarely depart from the roads. It is when they are forced to do so that they are the most vulnerable. We must therefore not try too hard to passively impede the cops on the road, especially when there are no barricades. Better enjoy the land around, to spread out a bit so as not to present too compact a target, otherwise the cops only have to charge into the group. We can only hold a barricade without too much risk if we are sure that we can escape out of the reach of cops if they charge.

It has happened that dozens of people massed between two barricades on the road have found themselves squeezed by the police, and the road which was the exit was also barricaded. People were arrested at that time and have received prison sentences. This did not have to happen. Comrades had more than half an hour to prepare for the assault and did absolutely nothing in this time. People could even have been trampled. The only escape route during the assault was a ditch followed by a slope on which were placed one or two pallets as a bridge. It would obviously not allow the passage of the fifty people who were present. We could be more effective if people were positioned in the surrounding fields, leaving only the number of people needed to cope and who could then escape quickly, i.e. less than 20 people. Projectiles flying from both sides of the road would have forced the cops to look to the sides and defend themselves with their shields, very effectively slowing them. There could have been no arrests other than perhaps a few stragglers, victims of the stampede in general.

Here is another memory that sheds a bit of light particularly on the opportunity of dialogue with cops, sit-ins and other temptations to lower the pressure: the only arrests we’ve seen on the ZAD, in addition to those we have just written about, have happened during another face to face meeting, also on the road.

This time, about thirty people had let themselves be gradually lulled by the apparent relaxation and passive behaviour of the relatively few cops that they faced. Some sat down on the road, others began to harass the cops in a moralistic manner, and people also were playing music. The only escape for all of these people, many of whom were over fifty years old, was a small hole in the fence on the other side of the ditch that separated the road from the adjacent field. Only one person could pass at a time, and not without difficulty. After analysing the situation, we found the same lack of a suitable exit as last time. We decided not to stay there, and to return to the next field along. We weren’t mistaken: the cops suddenly charged and got hold of 3 or 4 people. They were free in an hour, but many people were gassed, fell over, were hit ... Again, this didn’t have to happen, it would have been enough to assess the situation calmly, as we had done, to realise that it was not to our advantage. Our biggest regret is that in both of these cases, we didn’t dare to raise our voices to warn comrades of a danger that was not immediately obvious to all.

The road is a land where we never have the advantage. On the other hand, cops have been slightly injured by stones and bottles thrown from a field or wood bordering a road, where they can’t see what’s going on. This forces them to stop and send small detachments to look over the ground. They are usually forced to turn back because of the active resistance they encounter, delaying their decision to charge into the field for several hours (yet hours of face to face have done nothing exceptional). We therefore noticed the effectiveness of resistance, both passive and active, coming from several sides at once. This constantly provokes the cops and stops them from feeling like they’re on conquered territory. Also notable is the fact that passive, pacifist and face-on resistance is always the most dangerous for those who take part, because they are directly exposed to repression, often without having prepared for it.

It is clear that many more "non-violent" people are arrested on the ZAD during clashes with the police than people who have made an offensive towards the police, simply because believing they have nothing to hide, they do not realise the danger, or they realise it too late. But this will not change anything; cops often accuse people of violence, contempt or rebellion, with false testimonies to support this. At the risk of stating the obvious, we must remember all the same that the police are not there to maintain order but to provoke confrontation with those it considers dangerous to state security. It is not there to catch criminals, but to make up the numbers with anyone who finds themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, for example the guy sitting down in front of them.

There is no dialogue possible other than that of force, and therefore the intimidation of being faced with heavily armed, silent people who consider themselves in enemy territory to regain by any means. If they believe they are dealing with a real opposition who hesitate at nothing to push them back, they take more precautions when they advance, because despite the protection they enjoy, they seek to avoid errors that could make the situation uncontrollable. We therefore believe that there is no point in trying to reduce the pressure by demonstrations of goodwill if we want to maintain our gains, as this only serves to relax and lull us. In the first example we used, we spoke of the half-hour of preparation that people had not taken advantage of to prepare for the assault. This had been obtained by a brief negotiation with the cops so as to let people leave who did not want to take part in the confrontation. The only visible result was the calming down of those present, who were unable to cope with the attack, causing the disordered retreat that the police wanted in order to make arrests. We believe that civil dialogue with the police has only one purpose: to create doubt and calm both sides if they are becoming too angry. It is important that the basic heavy knows that he or she is not dealing with extremist terrorists, but real people who have found themselves trying to protect their homes against the state of which he or she, the heavy, is the representative. This dialogue is in fact not one, given the pressure that the officers put on the troops to not talk to their opponents. So talk to the cops if you want, but do not take unnecessary risks, and stay alert.

When you see an officer doing the rounds of his “little guys”, whispering a few words into the ears of every one, it’s probably orders to charge in a few minutes. This won’t take a very long time to happen, and won’t necessarily be preceded by a warning. However, they often fire tear gas canisters right before. In fact, the procedure is that 1) the order is given, 2) they disperse you with tear gas and stun grenades, then 3) they charge us and take possession of the land. This is what happens in more or less 90% of cases, as long as the cops start the offensive. When this is changed around, you can expect a lot less care and skill from them.

Bluffing and intimidation are tactics that always pay off, whatever the situation. People who throw stones are rarely “violent”; few of them hope to hurt a cop, but most want to scare them - so much so that they sometimes scare those who practice “nonviolence”. These “nonviolent” people must understand that this tactic, too, is necessary. Nothing slows a squadron better than a rain of projectiles, which also forces them to stop at a respectful distance before charging, rather than playing the unstoppable steamroller. It is also a good way to realise what our strengths and limitations are. It is unlikely that you will put a cop out of action with a stone; in most cases, it won’t reach its target, or won’t do much damage, since these people are wearing head-to-toe armour anyway. We won’t say that a hit like this has never caused serious injury, but to our knowledge this has never happened on the ZAD. Therefore mud, paint and manure are preferred because in addition to being projectiles, they are humiliating to the cops. Also they are less disagreeable to the “pacifists”, while blinding the cop who gets it on their visor. The Molotov cocktail, he is a real joker. In each police intervention, there is a before and after cocktail. When a molotov lands before them, the cops change their attitude and become much more cautious - read cowardly. We must never forget which side courage is on: courage is on our side. With virtually no armour and without weapons, without training and without the protection of the law and the state, we face an army with the liberty to act in a violent manner, even if it’s a "blunder", which are never sanctioned by the government or the courts. If in doubt, we advise you to read the excellent report by Amnesty International, here is the link: .... This report examines, among other things, cases of deaths in custody. Warning to enthusiasts!

In short, if you want to make a better impression on your enemy, be aware of their cowardice and their lack of motivation. The war we are waging against them is primarily psychological. The simple act of screaming works, so you’re also a big mouth against the cops, of course avoiding insults that could offend comrades, such as "get out of here you bunch of gays" or other "I’ve licked out your wife, do you hear me, yeah I’ve taken her in the arse” that we sometimes hear. This kind of talk has already caused rows between comrades, in front of the cops, which is obviously counter-productive. Standing on the barricades, you can make the cops believe that you are more than you really are - for example, you can go to harass them in small groups from the forest or behind bushes. This works very well and also allows you to listen to what is said in return, thanks to a little more discretion. Make as much noise by hitting anything that you have with you or around you. Be confusing. Imagine that these brave officers who rise early in the morning to go to what they call their work face a mixed crowd, from which emerges, by turns, people who sit down in front of them; offer them flowers; get naked; harass and insult them; throw shit, stones, or things on fire at their faces. That must really be perturbing.

Humour is a powerful weapon, and often absent from these moments of tension. It is however very important to lighten the mood and cheer up comrades. It is so useful that we can’t find fault with it. Make fun of the cops as much as possible.

As for materials (stones, food, water, shields, etc ...), they are often left behind during charges and later seized by police. Take the time to put it in a more secure place further back as soon as you think that a charge is imminent – this is essential considering that a confrontation could last the whole day, or even longer. If you feel brave enough, don’t hesitate to take your projectiles to the front line where other people can make use of them, you will be doing everyone a big favour. Spread around all the information which you become aware of which you think might be useful, relating to things which are happening further away, the numbers of police, actions of support, which are undercover cops, [RG], or grasses, etc... if you are looking for reliable information to confirm a rumour, find the person nearest to you who is carrying a walkie talkie or a radio. The flow of information is crucial in these times, it helps group cohesion and formal and informal decision-making. On the cops’ side, it’s all about order: they always act on order and there are things to know: whether or not they have the authorisation to use gas, the objectives of the operation, quota of arrests, show of force or organisation to "calm the game", etc... If you see an injured person, reassure them and immediately call a medic, there is always one in the area. Do not look after them yourselves if it’s not immediately necessary, as in the case of heavy bleeding where you can try to slow it by compressing the wound, as unlikely as this is to happen. Shout "flashball" if you see a cop aim one with the intention of shooting someone. Keep an eye on people who carelessly picnic in uncertain situations, and quietly warn them of any dangers. Always be extremely attentive to others; they are your primary protection, and you are theirs. If you feel that some people are in danger, or pose a risk to others by their carelessness, don’t hesitate to tell them. Sometimes provocateurs try to get people to put themselves in situations where they could get caught by the cops, be careful of this without getting too paranoid. Somebody who’s really enthusiastic and wants to “fuck up a copper” is not necessarily a provocateur, neither is one who plays at being in charge. These types are both harmful to the group though, and we must try to remind them why we were here. Never give in to panic, it is highly contagious and easily creates a herd effect, which can cause people to make stupid decisions, or to not make any when it’s needed. When the tear gas comes out, go around people and offerr them saline, lots of people don’t think of this in time. As an individual, stay on the edges of the group, on the sides and not the front or in the middle; you will have a better chance to escape quickly in case of attack, and you have a better overview of what happens. Always have an escape route in mind, this way you won’t have to lose any time at a critical moment. In general, keep yourself away at the back as soon as you no longer understand the situation, or if you are worried. If you’re the kind to throw projectiles to hit a target, preferably throw them when the cops are charging, provided that you’re a good runner; you have a better chance of success since the enemy is less attentive, less covered by their shields and rushing towards you. The best thing is to be hidden by the sides, if the terrain allows. Do not isolate yourself between the cops and the group, or behind enemy lines. You can try this type of action with more than one person, it is risky but it can be worth it. Have a buddy, a group of friends who will watch over you and know who you are in case of arrest – don’t worry if you don’t have one, but don’t take risks. Bear in mind that if you don’t have cool clothes or long hair and if you are a man on his own, you could be mistaken for a cop, which is never pleasant.

Remember to bring mirrors, you can blind the cops as soon as the sun is a bit out, or better, when they are using lights at night. In this second case a mirror should really be taken out as standard, as police lights at night-time can completely blind you, making it difficult to carry out an action in all but the most favourable circumstances. However, cops out at night on the ZAD are generally quite afraid; they know that they will not necessarily be able to see any threats.

To go back to projectiles, don’t forget that the cops can not defend themselves from all sides at once. So if they’re taking hits from behind the barricades in front and from the barricades behind at the same time, they will be forced to either retreat or chase their assailiants away. As soon as you find yourself in a similar situation, where police charges are alternated with counter-charges and throwing projectiles, remember to never get too close to the cops unless you have a good reason to do so – you could become a victim of "friendly fire", i.e. a shot from your own camp. Also, if you are arrested in this scenario, everyone will be arrested together, even the “peaceful” ones. After all, to the cops you have just taken part in an unlawful assembly of armed and masked people who have refused to disperse after having been given notice to do so. The robocops are heavy and covered in miscellaneous equipement, so they are poor runners. Watch the few non-armoured cops out of the corner of your eye, always be ready to run, and you have no reason to panic. Generally, a police charge will not advance more than thirty metres before stopping, so look behind you and do not run too far or you risk leaving friends alone, encouraging the cops to come forward to nick them. A good way to not get too tired and not get arrested or leave a friend behind, is to sprint a short distance as soon as you see the cops start to charge, not waiting for the cops to get closer but not going too far, then continue to run normally looking behind you. When you see the cops stop after charging, immediately return to them, staying what you think is a good distace away from them – initially at least never less than 15 or 20 metres. Remember to take any kind of thing that could be used as a shield with you, to help you protect yourself and others. This gives courage to those around you who see you advancing, and sends a strong signal to the cops while slowing them down. In fact, this is usually what people do after a charge, and the cops earn little ground while having taken considerable physical effort – they also realise that they are not very frightening to their opponents.

Always try to regain ground on cops, without taking unnecessary risks but with persistence, otherwise you may as well go home. You will notice anyway they have a well-established and predictable ritual, and they never take the risk of being deliberately isolated from their colleagues in order to hit someone make an arrest. The precise timing of the charge, however, is more difficult to predict, so if you are within 50 metres of the cops watch their movements very closely, and stay away if you’re not feeling very alert. However, it should be noted that the police don’t arrest people very often, at least in the context of a struggle outside urban areas because they need a vehicle to get arrested people away as quickly as possible, which can be a massive pain in the arse for the cops, who have other things to be getting on with. It often happens that people are just ID checked by the cops and then released. Therefore you are much more likely to be arrested if you are on a road or near a road. In any case, do not waste time and enjoy the first moment of relative calm to shout clearly and repeatedly "liberez nos camarades [free our comrades]" if you learn that arrests have taken place. Each time this happens, the people around you will take up the chant and pressure the cops, while reminding themselves why they are there. This simple "free our comrades" is such a show of solidarity that all hearts are warmed immediately.

Outside of charges, there is a dangerous place and a dangerous time. The dangerous place, it is just behind the front line, that is to say the brave people who provoke the cops and hide behind makeshift shields, throwing stones and things. Right there, 10 or 15 metres behind them is the precise spot that the cops will target if they throw stun grenades, tear gas grenades, or shoot rubber bullets without intending to hit a particular target, which is what happens when dealing with humans, after all. Be especially careful when you venture into this area. If you notice a cop pointing at you with a gun, it’s rubber bullets, and if you see that the barrel of his gun does not leave you, don’t be a hero – back away more than thirty metres (this is roughly the distance rubber bullets cease to be effective and accurate) and make him forget you for a few minutes. If you hear the tear gas (pop-pschiiiiiiit), raise your head and move away from the drop point, it can burn. It is better to be well covered and have a clean face, as this will reduce the effect of the gas. Also note that these can cause irreversible damage to the respiratory and digestive systems, although this is rarely the case in open spaces. Avoid them therefore as much as possible. If a grenade fallen close by does not explode immediately, run, this may be a stun grenade. You can try to throw either type of grenade back, but preferably use a racquet and do not rush too much: it is possible to mistake a sound grenade for a tear gas granade in the heat of the action, and your hand or foot will remember them, your ears too. In any case, do not panic – even less than 5 meters from the point a tear gas canister lands, you have a moment before starting to feel the effects of the gas as it disperses, as long as the wind does not push the cloud in your direction and is not too low or changing too much. However, stay close to the group because it is when those damn grenades fall or the cops charge you that you are most likely to be left behind by others. Never have too much confidence in the courage of your comrades- this is the best way to be stupidly arrested. It’s sad to say, but realistic. Try to constantly evaluate the state of mind of the cops and of your own people, and modify your behaviour accordingly. Beware of the “spirit of the herd”, which can sometimes make people stay together in places which are dangerous for everyone; remember to step back from what is happening. Back on the subject of the gas, the effect seems to be cumulative – you can take a good big breath and not feel too bad, but be really affected later on by only small residual amounts, well after the grenades have landed. So it is important right from the beginning to avoid the bulk of the cloud, to be able to deal with smaller amounts for longer. It is useless to calmly take loads of gas while everyone else runs, only to later be put out of combat at the slightest approach of a cloud. When the gases are used a lot, this is something to be kept in mind, while also placing yourself upwind of the gas where possible.

The most dangerous time is when the cops retreat, because it is in these moments that they are the most vulnerable, and they know it. It’s the time for them to send us their grand finale and to empty their magazines, fear can then make them more aggressive and less disciplined. They can get trigger happy and can shoot wherever. This is also the time when we become more courageous, prompting many people to take additional risks. This is often a lot of fun, even exhilarating, but still do not let yourself be the last victim of the day. Remember: there is always an appropriate time to be as effective against the cops without taking too much risk. Always be aware that even if you have little chance of sympathizing with the enemy, few cops get so enthusiastic that they want to do something other than their job and act outside their orders. It is, along with the fact that they are over-disciplined, one of their big weaknesses, which should encourage you to not let yourself be intimidated. Instead, intimidate them in your turn; “ça mange pas de pain” [there’s no harm in trying] as they say. It’s astonishing to witness their low efficiency given the means at their disposal. Once during a road clearance operation, when the fight had moved into the fields around, we saw a Viking warrior stand up to the cops who were pushing us further into the field. With courage, nay, with a foolish recklessness, wearing his horned helmet and holding a plastic sword, he charged head on and all alone 2 or 3 cops who were a bit isolated and made them retreat(!). The video was posted on the web. The warrior in question wasn’t even 1m70 high, and wasn’t particularly terrifying... Anyway, in doing this, he has given us a good lesson in humour and courage. Many people think of Gendarmes Mobiles as invincible and overtrained fighters who can forsee anything, but it is important to get this out of your mind. As soon as we leave the initiative to them, their tactics are excellent, but when they face a determined resistance they procrastinate immediately, because they do not want to get involved in hand to hand fighting or to make martyrs of themselves either. We should neither underestimate nor overestimate them; we have legitimacy and courage on our side, and they know, whatever they say, that this considerably lowers their morale. Thus we often deal with pawns who are moved with great difficulty by officers onto land which is not favorable to them, facing comrades who take all sorts of unpredictable and individual actions. This, again, is our great strength. As a result, the police will often be overwhelmed if you stay mobile and responsive. We should not try to discipline ourselves or adopt common tactics which might be too predictable, apart from common sense ones like masking up as much as possible, even if only to lessen the effects of gas. The cops are fond of souvenir photos and holiday movies, and they often tell us when they are filming. Masking up prevents some people who are a little overenthusiastic from being identified and targeted, or being recognized as having already participated in similar actions. If you are there, you are in solidarity with them and what they do, even if you do not agree with their methods. So hide yourself, even and especially if you yourself have nothing illegal or arrestable. You can still talk to your comrades about things afterwards if you felt uncomfortable with their actions.

Definition of a guerilla (source:

Etymology: of the Spanish guerilla, meaning small war, which is a diminutive of guerra, meaning war. Its use dates back to the tactics used by the Spaniards to fight against the regime imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early nineteenth century.

The term "guerilla" is used to describe the fighting conducted by small groups waging a war of harassment, raids, ambushes and sabotage against a normal army. Unlike terrorism, it does not civilians. It aims to overthrow an authority in place by destabilising it using not very intense but long-lasting confrontations. The term "guerilla" is more often used for the political struggles of groups of resistance fighters, less for military missions conducted by commando corps (an army detachment charged with sabotage or making raids). By extension, "guerilla" denotes groups that use this type of fighting.

Characteristics of a guerilla:

- Asymmetry of forces (number, weapons, organisation)
- Use of surprise attacks,
- Spread out and difficult to access terrain,
- Mobility, dispersion and flexibility of guerillas,
- Lack of a front line
- A strong link with the local population.

I didn’t understand the comment about Orwellian not-riot at the end of the first paragraph so I didn’t add it in, sorry. At the beginning of the 10th paragraph, i couldn’t translate “ils feront un carton et pas de quartiers” so i just left out that sentence. Left out the phrase “César en perdrait son latin” at the end of paragraph 14, because I don’t think there’s a english equivalent.