This handbook is written for activists who are interested in becoming organisers, organisers who want to develop their local chapters, and anyone who wants to learn more about Direct Action Everywhere.
At DxE, we have three major goals
We do this through open rescue, mass protest and community building.
We are not shy about our ambitious, honest and dedicated outlook - an outlook that nonhumans everywhere have waited too long for.
We are dedicated to bringing about a radically different world, and each and every one of our organisers share a mutual set of organising principles that guide our activism, namely animal liberation and nonviolent direct action.
Learn about how we operate and what we believe. If these principles resonate with you, and you regularly take action - you are part of DxE.
Direct Action Everywhere stands out from other animal advocacy groups for a variety of reasons, but perhaps one of these reasons is because our strategy and tactics are so different from the norm within the animal rights movement. DxE uses lessons from social science and from previous social justice movements to build the most effective movement for animals. We use the proven tactics of nonviolent civil resistance, social influence and mass mobilization to create a world where every animal is safe, happy and free.
Instead of focusing on creating individual vegans and celebrating new vegan products, we focus on making activists and changing social norms and political institutions. We believe that activism, and not veganism, is the moral baseline. Veganism is simply the non-participation in violence whereas activism is actively resisting violence and fighting for justice. We believe that a focus on individual consumerism may actually distract from the issue of animal exploitation and allow companies like Whole Foods, who cater to vegans but hurt animals, to avoid criticism. By focusing on making activists, we empower everyone to do as much as they can to help animals.
Community is key to sustaining and nurturing empowered, and ultimately, effective activists in the movement. Research by social scientists like Nicholas Christakis and Duncan Watts have shown that powerful networks were integral in the success of past social movements. Every successful social justice movement was built on already existing communities - the LGBTQ rights movement from gay and lesbian community centers (1,2), the Civil Rights Movement from the Black Church, and the women's suffrage movement from women's clubs. Research tells us that social values are spread via social networks and personal interaction. Your family and friends influence your political, religious, and personal beliefs far more than anyone else. What this means is that if we want to instill anti-speciesism values and reduce the characteristically high recidivism from our own ranks - we need to focus on building robust communities.
Interested in learning how we systematically build communities? Read more here.
Open Rescue, a tactic started by Patty Mark and Animal Liberation Victoria, stands in contrast to the more common form of investigation in the U.S. animal rights movement in which an investigator poses as a farm worker to film using a hidden camera. In Open Rescue activists openly enter farms, usually at night, document the conditions and rescue animals. While investigations and rescues are initially kept confidential, information is eventually released along with the identities of the activists involved.
Open Rescue allows the portrayal of individual animals’ stories. During a rescue, activists focus on animals in the farm and rescue animals who would otherwise die of disease – and thus are of no economic value to the farm – so that their recovery and their story can be documented. We do not hide our identities because we are proud of what we are doing and know that we are taking morally just action. Being a public face to an investigation breaks down the stereotypes of animal activists as criminals, vandals and terrorists.
We believe that Open Rescue extends far beyond the moment in time where an animal is rescued. It involves community building for support, protests in response to rescues, animal care, press work, etc... While we believe that open rescue is a form of activism anyone can undertake, it is critical that people are trained correctly as open rescue can pose serious health and legal risks. We offer trainings at least once or twice a year in the SF Bay Area for those who are interested in joining the Open Rescue Network. Our goal is thousands of open rescue teams across the world.
DxE has released five open rescues thus far:
Mei’s story: Whole Foods and Certified Humane Fraud
Sarah and Angie’s story: What's behind a Thanksgiving turkey
Emma’s story: Prop 2 truth
Oliver's Story: The brutal reality of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival
Miley's Story: Death and disease at Costco
Inspired by both activist networks and street theater groups such as Improv Everywhere, DxE mobilizes masses of activists to creative protest in prominent public spaces. Protests typically involve disruption of an event or place that justifies violence towards animals. Activists will stage creative street theatre, perform speak outs, sing, leaflet, chant, etc.... Creative protest disrupts people’s daily routines, forcing them to pay attention and engage with the issue of animal exploitation. They get the issue of animal rights on the table in order to eventually spark a national debate on the issue. While protests are not popular, they work.
The Humane Myth
We historically target companies and institutions who claim to sell products with superior animal welfare standards such as Whole Foods Market and Chipotle. We criticize these companies for lying about the actual conditions on their farms and using these conditions to deceive customers with the idea that it is possible to raise and kill animals in a humane way, which we reject. We believe that “humane meat” is the wobbly linchpin holding together the whole system of “meat”.
Our messaging is aimed at putting ‘anti-speciesism’ into popular parlance and about amplifying animals' personhood and dignity. For these reasons, we do not typically use “graphic imagery”. In all of our messaging, we make clear that the problem extends beyond a single target and industry. We have used several themes in our protests and media, including Until Every Animal is Free, It’s Not Food/Science/Fashion. It’s Violence, Disrupt Speciesism and What Animals Deserve.
DxE is not a formal organization, rather an open source platform for activism. DxE shares its materials and knowledge base to the public. If you take action under our organizing principles, you are part of DxE.
We do, however, offer structure for chapters who want it. See section 2 to learn more. Our overarching campaign is called “It’s Not Food, It’s Violence” and focuses on animals used for food. This campaign is organized with monthly days of action, community events, and a strategy call.
Every month, the It’s Not Food It’s Violence campaign unites activists across the world in a day of action. While the It’s Not Food It’s Violence campaign has historically focused on Chipotle and Whole Foods, we encourage activists to disrupt any place that normalises, profits from, and promotes violence against animals; especially establishments that go out of their way to market violence as ‘humane’. Typically, action plans will be coordinated with DxE’s recent investigations and open rescues. To find out more on how to organise a Day of Action - click here.
In addition to the Monthly Days of Action, DxE activists have increasingly targeted culturally important events. Types of events, and some examples of past disruptions we have done, are listed below.
Local chapters host monthly community events, which could be potlucks, movie screenings, discussions, etc... We emphasize and encourage DxE Chapters to volunteer at sanctuaries, shelters and rescues on a regular basis. Coordinated teach-ins - presentations and discussions of topics related to animal rights - will occur 3-4 times per year.
Strategy calls are network-wide calls that allow dissemination and discussion of DxE strategy and initiatives.
In the event that there is a conflict within the DxE network: we have both a resolution committee and a process outlined to resolve the conflict.
For more information read here.
We are a grassroots organization made up of people like you. There are three main steps to becoming a leader in DxE's network. Mentors will help you along the way and you will have the support of thousands of activists around the world. Take action for animals today!
All you need is two people, a sign and a smartphone to do your first action. Our mentors are ready to guide you through the process, from materials to camera work to promotions. E-mail email@example.com to get started.
What you need to do:
What we provide
Once you’ve done an action and have committed to continue organizing, you are a participating chapter. To sustain this energy, it is vital to find a team of core organizers and continue with consistent actions and community building events. You will be added to our organizer’s Facebook group and mailing list and can participate in our monthly strategy calls and yearly forum.
What you need to do:
What we provide:
Our network is run by on the ground activists, not corporate CEOs. Core chapters are large and thriving self-sustained communities for animal rights that contribute immensely to the international network. They continue to participate in regular actions, community events and strategy calls but are also eligible to become part of the Global Steering Committee.
What you need to do:
- submit an application to be recognized as a core chapter
- once your application is accepted, send a (virtual) delegate to the Global Steering Committee; delegates will expect to spend an additional 10+ hours per week as part of the Committee
- assist the international network in various capacities, depending on skill: mentoring, creating new and innovative content, writing, technology, social media, etc...
- continue with local chapter responsibilities
What we provide:
- business cards
- DxE e-mail addresses
- Dropbox Business account
- T-shirts for core members
- organizer and chapter biographies on the main website
If it's your first time running an action - it can be stressful. Below is an 'action recipe' to help.
To get started, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll set up a call, get to know you, go through a quick briefing - and finally assign you a mentor to guide you further.
Date and time are most important. Location is also important, but can sometimes wait until later. It’s often helpful to scout the location beforehand, particularly if you plan to do something creative! If this is your first action, start compiling a list of press contacts.
Use Facebook and/or other forms of social media like Meetup. Make sure you include all information, including the date, time and location. Don’t delay on this, as the event page is a space that will allow potential participants to plan their calendars, and ask questions in the weeks prior to the event.
Copy and paste details from main event page to your new event page. Revise details to make locally appropriate. Read through the first Pinned Post on the Main Event Page for the latest updates.
Ask us to add your event to our main page. Contact local groups and ask them to promote. Consider leaving posters or flyers in places where animal advocates gather.
Materials are available on our site on the Materials page, and also on the Facebook Main Event Page Pinned Post. In some cases, we may be able to send you materials.
A few days prior to the action, we’ll send out “template” advisories and press releases to you. Fill out the details relevant to your community, then send out to your list of press contacts.
Make sure all main speakers practice their speeches. Speakers must aim to be loud, clear and concise.
Some Guidelines & Suggestions for Speakouts:
- Animal-focused. Our cause is animal liberation, and animals should be the focus of our speakouts. Our actions should center their perspective, not the benefits to the oppressors (i.e. humans).
- Systems, not individuals. Target oppressive systems, governments, corporations, etc. that lie at the heart of animal exploitation. Occasionally we can leverage an individual's notoriety to bring attention to this issue (i.e. Chris Christie), but avoiding personal attacks helps us stay on message.
- Storytelling. Tell animals' stories. Show them to be individuals, and do it proudly and passionately.
- Avoid oppressive language. Take care to not use phrases or words that hurt others or detract from other anti-oppression activism. Examples include sexism, racism, ableism, etc. (A few tips here). We will make mistakes, so remain humble, listen to criticism, and keep learning, growing, and going.
- Justice. This is about justice, and we shouldn't be afraid to say it. Empathy and compassion are great, but ultimately, whether or not we care for them, all animals deserve freedom.
- Memorize and project. Memorize your speakout. This will make it more natural, engaging, and camera-friendly. Project, don’t yell; maintain control while speaking strongly. Be clear, and concise.
- Inspire activists. Our main goals are to inspire activism for animals and provoke public dialogue. Persuading individuals to go vegan is great but is not typically our main objective. Ultimately, we want to inspire a mass movement of people to speak strongly for animals.
The day has come. Run a pre-demo meeting, and a quick rehearsal. Then, get out there. Be confident, direct, and honest.
Post photos to social media. Most importantly, share your media with us! Name your video/photo files in this convention: chaptercity - title description. Then, upload your files here.
For reasons mentioned earlier, building a strong, supportive and empowered community of activists is essential for a sustainable and effective social justice movement. In this section we discuss the ways we build community in the San Francisco Bay Area - though you may choose to do it differently in your own local chapter.
DxE Meetups are regularly scheduled gatherings open to anyone supportive of animal rights, be they veteran activists or someone who just stumbled on their first slaughterhouse video last night. As an example: in the Bay Area, Meetups are held weekly on Saturday mornings at the Berkeley Animal Rights Center.
DxE Meetups are designed to be a casual, low-barrier way for interested individuals to tap into the animal rights community. Aims of this programme include: to create a powerful sense of community, increase engagement, and thereby motivate and sustain activists in taking collective action for animals.
For more information about Meetups and how to organise them, e-mail: email@example.com.
Successful movements are powered and sustained by deep, and empowering relationships between activists. DxE Connections is a simple program aimed at building these deep, meaningful friendships.
The mechanics of Connections is simple: Two activists visit 1 other activist and meet for an hour – a “Connection.” All other factors of the connection are flexible: activists have connected over coffee, over food, on a walk, while cooking together or even while protesting together!
For more information about Connections and how to organise them, see firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email is the primary way we send out general notifications, especially information relevant to our current campaign and monthly Day of Actions.
If you are involved in our international campaigns - we will add you to our mailing list for campaign related information. If you are not getting emails about our campaigns, and you think you should - contact email@example.com.
DxE uses social media in the following ways:
We hold a monthly strategy call to share developments in our network, to discuss the new projects we have been working on, and to highlight activists in our network. The strategy calls happen on the first Sunday of every month at 10:00AM PST, and are a requirement for all DxE Organisers.
The DxE Forum is an annual week-long convergence where organisers and activists from around the world come together to connect, reconnect, and engage in communal learning for one ultimate reason - to become better advocates for animals. The next Forum begins May 24th, 2017.
Find out more here.
DxE is more than a day of action here and there. We inspire activists to build thriving and self-sustaining communities (chapters) for animal rights. Chapters:
Before you read the rest of this section, it would be helpful to have a printout of the Chapter Development Checklist. It contains a concise breakdown of all the most impactful steps you can take to build a chapter in your local community.
Creating these communities requires effort and energy from a diverse group of people. It is important that you find a group of people who can meet regularly and take responsibility for organizing the actions and events in your city.
Sometimes, setting up a core team is as easy as putting a call out to dedicated activists who are able to meet the proposed standards and fulfill the responsibilities.
Other times, it may be difficult to find people who are able or interested. If you need help finding a core team of organizers, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help by setting up a meeting with you, activists in your city, and an organizer from an Core Chapter (via Skype). In this meeting, we can further explain the mission, vision and tactics of DxE and work with your community to enable people to become involved as organizers.
Typical core responsibilities include:
- Organizing monthly days of action and other disruptions
- Community growth, engagement and development through community building events and endeavors
- Managing the chapter’s social media
- Mediating conflict within the community
- Making decisions related to use of funds and fundraising
- Making decisions related to overall direction and actions of the chapter
- Upholding DxE Values and culture at all times
Typical standards for core organizers include:
- Read and agree to Handbook, organizers' agreement, principles and values (required)
- Attendance at core meetings
- Attendance at all actions and community events
- Empower others in the community
- Accountable, reliable and responsible
- Takes initiative and ownership over projects and idea
- Commitment for one year
DxE is YOU! We want and need your help and there are many ways to get involved in the network beyond your local chapter. We grow based solely on the initiative and effort of our members. If you have questions, e-mail email@example.com.
Direct Action Everywhere's network can only function because of the many dedicated activists who work behind the scenes.
They set up mailing lists and write code. They fold leaflets and design placards. They edit videos and write speak-outs.
They make Direct Action Everywhere possible.
There are a number of working groups, with new ones being created constantly. Some of these working groups include:
Working groups are by default open to anyone who wants to contribute. We do ask that members commit to our principles and values and sign the Working Group Members Agreement. Working Group Members who meet the following additional standards are considered Global Team Members and receive recognition on our website as well as a DxE email address:
The Global Steering Committee (GSC) is a group that offers strategic advice for the DxE network, makes new suggestions to the DxE International fundraising entity regarding use of funds, and encourages the development of new chapters around the world. The GSC is made up of delegates from DxE Core Chapters and meets once a week.
DxE uses the affiliate model of organizing based on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Instead of having individual members, we seek out organized chapters and communities. Chapters that meet certain requirements are recognized as Core Chapters and become eligible for membership in the Steering Committee in the form of one or more delegates (depending on size and degree of contribution).
There are two sets of standards governing the Global Steering Committee (GSC):
The second set of standards will only be evaluated if the first is fulfilled.
All of the standards have to be met for chapters to be considered Core Chapters.
All of the following standards have be met for an organizer to qualify to be a delegate on the GSC:
Ready to become a Core Chapter and join the Global Steering Committee? Apply below: