De-escalation in Large Crowd Situations

Theatre, Fun, Music and Song

These can all be used to entertain and change the energy.

Establishing Silence

In large crowd situations where the tension is rising, it can be really helpful to establish silence, because it can be calming in itself and because it will enable you to initiate other tactics, with everyone aware and joining in. However, establishing silence does require a high level of responsiveness and may not be possible in really large or dispersed crowds. If it feels too difficult, don’t waste time on it, but move on to the next tactic.

Two methods:

You can then very briefly and calmly let people know what you’d like to do next and why (why nonviolence and de-escalation are important), invite people to join in with a song or use one of the tactics below.

Sit Down and Invite Others to Sit Down Too

This can have a very calming effect.
Make sure there is plenty of space around the violence / conflict, especially a free route to withdraw.
It can also be helpful to fall silent. .

De-escalation Line

This is especially useful for conflict between lines of police or riot police and activists when tension is building too much.

Gentle Singing / Chanting and “Stop” Hand Gesture

We are non violent, how about you?

This next one is only appropriate to use when engaging with aggressive police and other aggressive people.

Try it out and compare the effect with the sung version. At the International Rebellion in October ‘19 it was sometimes used inappropriately when police were behaving with respect - so then it created tension where there wasn’t any before. See 4 min film.

Encountering Extreme Anger or Threatening Behaviour

If you can’t deal with it, get help elsewhere (including the police if necessary).


Revision #4
Created 1 December 2023 15:34:40 by Jim
Updated 8 January 2024 14:43:38 by Jim