How to Hold Up A Bank

Ever wanted to hold up a bank... and get away with it? Now you can! This model of a fun, peaceful, legal, and effective denial of service tactic can be applied to almost any business in nearly any town or city. But since we think banks deserve it most, we beta-tested it on Wells Fargo. Here's how you can do it, too. Simply put, it involves creating an endless line that will effectively disrupt branch operations for the day. During our initial action, an irate branch manager actually said, "You think this is just a harmless protest, but you have no idea how much damage you've done!" Please note: The steps will be presented using a bank as the model target. Of course, with minor adjustments you can use it for the business of your choosing.
You will need ( tools or supplies ): 
A bank or other suitable business that requires customers to form lines for service.
A minimum of 20 people to join the hold up.
Recommended:
- Duration: One full business day
- For banks: At least one account holder
- Snacks
- Comfortable attire
Step

1. Always begin by scouting out your location first. How will your friends and allies be able to get to the location (public transit, bike racks, parking, etc)? Are there nearby places to meet, rest, re-group, organize, deploy? From which directions can you most likely expect trouble? More specifically, since you will be forming an endless line that effectively prevents the business from doing any real business, you should know how the lines are formed inside the target business, and how many people it will reasonably require to create an effective traffic jam. After a successful reconnaissance mission, you are ready for step 2.

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2. The Cloak of Legitimacy: How will you distinguish your occupation from trespassing? A mob of protesters inside of a bank or other business can be quickly removed by cops or security and charged with trespassing; however, customers have a legitimate reason to be within the premises. Since banks usually define customers as account holders or check-bearers, you will want to work with existing customers or open up your own dummy account beforehand. From this account, you can write micro-amount checks to other participants in order to validate their presence.

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3. Design your props - For our action, we also chose to create fake withdrawal slips that asked Wells Fargo to withdraw their financial investment in GEO Group, a major player in prisons, immigration detention, and operations at Guantanamo Bay. This served as a useful prop when speaking with bank staff as well as other banking customers.

Downloads: 
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4. Organize your insertion team - This tactic requires about 20-25 people at a time to create a sufficiently long line. But there are two things to consider when it comes to the number of participants: 1) Too many people at one time will likely result in a quick confrontation with the cops, and possibly the early demise of your action; and, 2) it's a lot to ask of someone to stand in line for 8 hours at a time. Therefore, we suggest working in 1 hr shifts. This means you will need to inspire about 200 people to devote a single hour to this action. We also suggest using sign up sheets with time slots so not everyone shows up for the same shift. Additionally, you should anticipate some people not showing up for their shift, so plan accordingly.

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5. Mission briefing - Before the action, you should let everyone know what to expect from the holdup. The main objective is to create a denial of service and hold up the daily operations of the bank. Make it clear that the success of this operation can be compromised by a direct, nasty, confrontation with any individuals - including bank staff, security, and cops. (Save the nasty confrontations for other actions!) Participants should be cool, casual and collected with the bank staff and other customers. Laughing, telling jokes, flirting, asking questions, striking up conversation are all ok. Other customers may want to know what's going on - and it's great to let them in on it - but don't preach or proselytize. And DON'T get lured into heated arguments with bank staff that might attempt to pull you out of line!

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6. Action! - On the day of the holdup, arrange to have a couple of key people outside of the back to check in with participants as they arrive, to orient/recruit any new participants, and to monitor the situation from afar. There should also be one or two people who will take on the responsibility of talking with the branch manager, security, or the cops (should they arrive).

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7. The Encounter at the Counter - When a participant finally makes it to the front of the line, the objective is to take up as much time as possible. As mentioned earlier, this can involve asking lots of questions, telling jokes, flirting, asking for change in odd denominations, etc. But be aware that the bank teller is not your enemy. In fact, s/he could very well become your ally if you play your cards right. If s/he acts upset or frustrated, let them know that you're not protesting him/her personally. Of course, you can also let him/her know that s/he is in a unique position to help change the policies of the bank.

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8. Finalizing your Transaction - When your turn at the teller is complete, simply return to the end of the line and finish out your shift.

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9. Their line will be their decline!

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10. If business-as-usual means totalitarian restriction, then we have no choice but to totally restrict business-as-usual!

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11. Notes: During our trial run of this action, the police did arrive and they were promptly met at the curb by a well-dressed representative of our cause long before the branch manager had a chance to intervene. Our rep was jovial and good-natured, as he explained to the police that everyone involved was a bank customer concerned with their bank's financial practices and their community relations. In addition, the police were asked to clarify if they (the cops) had any concerns that they would like addressed in order to make their job easier. By the time the branch manager realized that this discussion was taking place, he ran out of the bank like a raving lunatic, yelling at cops and participants alike. The police were completely unsympathetic towards his complaints, and simply informed him that they could not disperse legitimate customers from a place of business unless they were creating an obvious disruption. And then they left.

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