Note: This guide is a work in progress. We’ll be adding to it over time.
Despite their simplicity, these tactics have been used for decades in countless campaigns across the country to win local political reform – often in the face of stiff resistance.
If you have feedback on what we can add to or change in this guide to make it more useful to other People Power activists, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include “tactics guide” in the subject line.
Make sure that after you complete a tactic, you fill out this form.
We plan to regularly update this guide in response to feedback from activists like you, so please send us your thoughts and check back regularly.
What are tactics? How do I choose?
Tactics are the actions we take in order to win campaigns. Gathering petition signatures, protesting, letter writing, and attending town halls are all examples of tactics.
In terms of choosing which tactics to use, there’s no one size fits all answer. It depends on your community, your target, your activist group, and a lot of other factors.
That said, here are some things to consider when choosing a tactic:
All of that said, don’t overthink it. None of this is rocket science, mostly it just requires persistence.
Most campaigns that are successful will use some of the tactics covered below at some point and in some order. Volunteers will need to determine what tactics are most appropriate and when in the context of your local community. Figure it out as you go along and get better through experimentation.
If you aren’t sure what to do, just pick a tactic and give it a go! The most important thing is to do something!
What if members of my team disagree about which tactics to use?
It’s important to note that People Power generally operates as a distributed organizing campaign. This means that there is a centralized plan to win (get cities and counties to adopt the nine model law enforcement rules and policies to protect our communities from Trump) that everyone can get started working on no matter where they live.
There can be multiple groups of people working on this goal in any community. There doesn’t have to be a single campaign with a single set of leaders in any city. As long as we’re all working towards the same goal people can pursue different tactics or focus on different targets. In some places there will be groups of people who want to focus on rallies and protests, while others will prefer to work behind the scenes lobbying decision makers one-on-one.
Of course, we won’t always agree that the work others are doing is the most important or productive thing. That’s ok! In any movement as large as the one we’re trying to build, there’s no way we’re all going to agree all of the time.
If you don’t want to do what someone else is doing, don’t use all your energy trying to stop them from doing it or criticizing them. Instead, propose something that you do agree with and put the work in to get other people to join you. People can vote with their feet and join the efforts they feel most aligned with.
Local People Power gatherings are about getting to work. People Power in your city may be a lot of different groups doing different parts of the work but all moving in the same direction -- making our communities “Freedom Cities.” If everyone who wanted to be involved in your town had to be in a single group it might work wonderfully or it might lead to very long meetings that get in the way of getting started on the actual work. The most important thing is to just get started. The Trump administration is announcing new initiatives at record speed and we simply can’t wait to get started on the work of the resistance. That being said, for some guidance on finding and working with other local People Power activists in your community, take a look at this guide.
Before we dive into different tactics, a reminder about the map
All events need to be posted at map.peoplepower.org
This is the hub of our Freedom Cities campaign. Whenever you organize a campaign tactic, you should post it there so that other members of your community can find out about it and attend.
Many new people are signing up to become a part of the People Power movement every day. We get in touch with these new sign ups almost immediately and drive them to take action by signing up for an event on the People Power map. We also regularly check in with our current People Power activists by text message and email to remind them to check for new events posted on the People Power map. So if you post your event a few days in advance and if it’s consistent with our guidelines, it has the potential of reaching the activists that are being driven to check the map daily. This is a great way to get new people involved in your campaign!
You should also consider taking additional actions to promote your event, such as posting the link to your People Power event page across your social media channels.
Please note: As a People Power activist, you don’t represent the ACLU as an organization. You represent your own causes as a concerned citizen and constituent. This is critical to our strength as a movement: As you work on your Freedom Cities campaign, your voices will be stronger as representatives of your community. If anyone is looking for a comment about an ACLU position, you can refer them to us and we can contact the appropriate ACLU representative. Read more: bit.ly/PPDisclaimer
How to use the rest of this guide
Below, you’ll find a list of tactics and a short description of what they are. If you click on the tactic, you’ll be taken to document that gives you an in-depth description of the tactic, how to use it, and common pitfalls and solutions. Enjoy! Happy organizing!
Deliver your campaign demands to a captive audience with your elected officials, press, and other members of the community.
Communicate your message with calls or letters to your elected officials.
Attending a public town hall organized by your elected official is one way to voice your concern around the issues that matter most to you and advocate for Freedom Cities policies in your jurisdiction.
Tactic: Gathering petition signatures
Craft a petition to convey support of the nine policies, and have meaningful conversations with your neighbors, faith community, friends, family, etc.
Letters to the editor can be one of many ways to raise the conversation about Freedom Cities in your community, bring needed attention to your campaign, and highlight the press coverage of your work.
Meet with your elected officials and make your case directly. Be persistent with getting their answer of support or otherwise.
Find a public, creative, media-worthy way to deliver your petitions to your elected official. Bring it to their office, and bring the press with you to witness the delivery. Be creative!
Tactic: Organizing protests and rallies
Apply pressure to elected officials by staging a public protest – something highly-visible and well attended by community members and press.
Distributing these posters (created by People Power) to businesses and neighbors in your community helps create visibility for your campaign.
After you’ve completed a tactic, make sure you fill out this form! Please fill out this form each time your group carries out a campaign tactic. If your group completes multiple tactics on the same day, please fill out the form once for each tactic (you’ll fill it out multiple times).
This list is by no means exhaustive. Be creative and flexible - and choose what works whether it’s on this list or not. Let’s turn some communities into Freedom Cities!