How to raise our voice and make it heard
Tips from Berlin
Here in Berlin we regularly disturb shrink conferences and are accustomed to doing so without police interference (nevertheless we have our identity cards with us and would be very polite in case the police should show up). We make these disturbances with very limited resources, usually only with 2 to 4 people.
The best result seems to us to take these steps:
A) We prepare to the conference with a "radical" critique on a leaflet which should be both emotional and clear in using words like "shrinks", "psychiatric prisons", "torture", "bodily harm", "crime against humanity" etc. in order to overcome the twisting lies of the shrink language.
Before the beginning of the conference we distribute these leaflets at the entrance or in the conference room itself and most of the time we manage to cover nearly all the participants, because it is unusual that people get leaflets at such meetings. In our opinion here is an example for a good leaflet text using a strong graphic on the cover : http://www.antipsychiatrie.de/flyer.htm
We enter the conference room and listen especially to the main speakers, but shout our sharp critiques just at the right place in the speeches so that the sentence of the speaker is reversed in it's sense, or people laugh because it is a good irony, or a contradiction in the argument of the speaker could be made obvious etc. Never hesitate to shout during their speech if it is appropriate. The others in our group immediately start to clap and it works best if the audience start to clap too. So the speaker is forced to make improvisations and accept that the disturbance was a contribution to an open discussion and we only used the freedom of speech.
B) If we have more important events and some money, we copy a slogan on a large banner and "smuggle" it into the conference room. Then we hold it up and the attention is always on us.
We take photos of the raised banner inside the conference hall and if it is possible we carry the banner in front of the speaker on the podium.
For an example see: http://www.psychiatrie-erfahrene.de/berlin_nachrichten.htm
We do not stress the audience with chorus shouting as most of the time we are too few. Once the organizer of a conference was so stressed from our actions (as explained in "A"), that he negotiated with us that in exchange for not interrupting the speeches we were allowed to hang the banner in the room. So the room changed its meaning from conveying the psychiatric agenda to a complete contrary one and it was demonstrated that there is a clear opposition (this worked even with a federal minister speaking!)
We systematically try to find out about the organizer's press conferences and of course we then filter in and declare (if we are asked) that we are freelance journalists. During the conference we are the first to ask questions which are of course completely contrary and undermine the premise of the organizers or doubt the moral quality of what they are saying. The other journalists should not be offended too much, but again it becomes obvious that there is an opposition. Sometimes we even get interviewed by "real" journalists afterwards.
Most of the time the conferences are not prepared for any deviant behaviour, which is systematically organized to make an opposition voice heard. The organizers of such conferences do not want to demonstrate a police state behaviour so they are in a dilemma of being unable to eliminate the protest even if they would like to.
And it is also quite some fun to break the unspoken rule to keep "silent"!
We think this could be called "mad pride".
C) How to promote the afterward's protest documentation?
The cheapest way is to launch instantly a web site with the text of the leaflet (prepared beforehand) and digital photos taken at the event. Then we promote this web site at such web sites as "indymedia", where you can put a notice without censorship.
At the end of our text we add a line saying that we offer digital photos for free download for magazines and newspapers, without the compression necessary for webpages. There is a chance of getting a press coverage if you do this instantly and inform the media about the protest via fax and e-mail with the address of the web site where the protest is documented. Here is an example for such a thumbnail gallery with links to big volume digital photos.
If the media should pay attention, again we document this on the website about the protest by placing links to the article or ask for permission to reproduce the article on our own website.
© "Irren-Offensive e.V.", Berlin, Germany
Impressum: International Association Against Psychiatric Assault
Aeschenvorstadt 57, 4051 Basel, Switzerland