Business Is Booming for French 'Protest Coach'

Parisian makes a living schooling dissenters in the art of civil disobedience
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2009 6:01 AM CDT
A group of anti-NATO activists block a tram track while protesting in downtown Strasbourg, eastern France, Saturday April 4, 2009, during NATO's 60th-anniversary summit.    (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – France's leading "protest consultant" has never been busier, he tells the Wall Street Journal. Xavier Renou provides—for a discretionary fee—tips and training courses for anticapitalist protesters on making sure their message is heard. Renou sticks to nonviolent means, but has plenty of practical advice on everything from picking slogans to the right way to lie down in the road.

Renou, who worked for Greenpeace before founding Les Désobéissants—"the Disobedient Ones"—sometimes joins the protests himself, once running through a nuclear submarine hangar in a clown suit to protest nuclear weapons. Renou looks set to get even busier with groups such as the Free Tibet campaign clamoring for his advice on civil disobedience—though he says one thing the job doesn't provide is a steady paycheck.