Protesting Tips: What to Bring, How to Act, How to Stay Safe

Protesting Tips: What to Bring, How to Act, How to Stay Safe Leave a comment


Reproductive rights in America have drastically modified. The US Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, which opens the doorways to states criminalizing abortion and blocking entry to details about it. Certain legal experts word that the language used within the present draft from Justice Samuel Alito may additional erode protections surrounding contraception, homosexual marriage, and interracial marriage, which means extra civil rights are underneath risk.

This information to secure protesting was initially written in 2020 in the course of the nationwide outcry over police brutality, which overwhelmingly targets Black individuals like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade. Whether you’re marching for racial justice, reproductive rights, or local weather conservation, our recommendation applies to most protests.

If you are desirous about becoming a member of a protest close to you, there are some essential components to think about: Police brutality is an summary idea for some however a stark actuality for others. Similarly, few individuals think about abortion access until they need it. There are methods you possibly can contribute to police brutality causes or to abortion funds and independent clinics for those who do not feel secure protesting or are in any other case unable to bodily achieve this. You also can donate time to neighborhood teams, drop off provides for protests, or contact native legislators.

That being mentioned, protesting is a proper of all Americans underneath the First Amendment (extra on that under). Before you head out, it is best to know that police across the country have acted with unnecessary force, together with driving vehicles through crowds, partially blinding a photojournalist, and macing children. The list goes on and on.

If you continue to need to take part, we have gathered some recommendation, in addition to a listing of things you might have considered trying to convey with you. Be cautious, and keep secure.

Table of Contents


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What to Bring (and Not Bring) to a Protest

It’s good to have provides available for a day of protesting. We advocate the next. You most likely have every thing you want round the home, and if not, this stuff will doubtless be accessible at your native shops. We’ve included some hyperlinks to on-line retailers to your reference.

  • A bag and/or backpack: You’ll want one thing small and sturdy. I, Louryn, use an affordable daypack from Walgreens for many provides, and I additionally strap on a belt bag, which I take advantage of to maintain the important objects I’d want if I have been to lose my backpack. Use no matter you will have available that allows you to maintain your palms free. If you do not have something, now we have a listing of our favorite fanny packs. And whereas your bag needs to be large enough to maintain all of the provides you want, make certain to keep away from something too cumbersome.
  • Water: There’s a very good likelihood that your protest will embody a march, so that you want to listen to correct hydration. Carry consuming water. Bring the most important bottle that you may slot in your bag. Water can be used to clear wounds and flush the eyes of anybody who’s been hit with chemical fuel or pepper spray.
  • A face masks or bandana: There’s nonetheless a pandemic occurring, with over 1 million Americans lifeless from Covid-19. Take precautions and canopy your face with a masks or bandana. Face coverings additionally get pleasure from shielding your identification from cameras and police surveillance. (We have a separate information about digital privacy throughout protests.). Bring an additional masks you probably have one.
  • A hat and/or sun shades: Aside from shielding you from the solar throughout an extended day of marching, hats and sun shades can obscure your face from surveillance and defend your privateness. If you put on a hat, and also you’re interested by additional defending your identification, maintain the brim low.
  • Snacks: You are doubtless in for an extended day. Pack light-weight, nutritious, protein-rich snacks. Jerky, energy bars, and nuts are all good picks.
  • Protest indicators: If you need to carry an indication, there are some issues to think about. Ensure that your slogan is in huge, daring letters that may be simply learn from far-off. Short and punchy sayings are arguably higher than a block of script. Poster board is versatile, however stiffer foam board is extra sturdy. You can affix paint-stir sticks or different flat, wood sticks to the signal utilizing robust tape to create a deal with. You may need to make extras to hand out to fellow protesters. Don’t litter—whenever you’re performed along with your signal, get rid of it correctly, or donate it to one other protester.
  • Suitable clothes: It’s a good suggestion to put on all black, each as a result of that is what the organizers of most solidarity protests counsel and since it helps you mix in with a crowd. It’s additionally recommended that you just cowl any tattoos, for those who can, and that you just disguise your hair if it is dyed a particular colour.
  • A change of garments: If you are protesting on a very scorching day, you might have considered trying to have further garments. These also can come in useful for those who’re uncovered to substances that may damage your pores and skin or for those who’re splashed with paint, gross highway water, or different individuals’s sweat. I normally carry a pair of shorts, a tank prime, and an additional pair of socks in my backpack.
  • Hand sanitizer: You may end up holding palms with a stranger, grabbing onto gunky avenue indicators, or tripping and falling right into a puddle. All these situations coupled with Covid-19 make hand sanitizer an important factor to carry. Most shops now have a minimum of some type of hand sanitizer in inventory, however we even have a guide on making your own.
  • Good strolling footwear: This is nonnegotiable. Wear closed-toe footwear which might be damaged in and good for strolling lengthy distances.
  • Your ID (possibly): If you are detained, not having your ID on you may maintain you caught for longer. However, in some states, you might not have to show the police your ID if they ask for one. Use your greatest judgment, and think about wanting up the legal guidelines to your state for extra particular steering.
  • Your telephone (possibly): To protect your privacy and prevent surveillance, one of the best factor you are able to do is go away your telephone at dwelling. Consider utilizing a secondary or burner phone as a substitute. If you need to convey your telephone, keep away from utilizing conventional telephone calls and texts if in any respect attainable. Signal is a safe, end-to-end encrypted messaging app that gives the choice to delete messages after they’re despatched. You also needs to disable biometric unlocking, like FaceID or fingerprint options, and use a six-digit passcode as a substitute. If you do want to carry your main telephone, maintain it turned off till you completely want to use it. This will make it tougher for regulation enforcement to observe your actions.
  • Cash: Just like your telephone can go away digital breadcrumbs indicating your whereabouts, utilizing your debit or bank card will make it simpler for the authorities to observe your actions. Instead, convey money. Separate your payments; stash some in your bag, and maintain some in your particular person, both in your shoe, your bra, your pants pockets, or some place else safe.
  • An influence financial institution: If you or members of your group may have a telephone, you want to just remember to have a means to cost units. Other protesters might have to cost their gear as properly. If you do not have one already, I actually like this option from Anker. The firm additionally makes one other good power bank that is a bit smaller.
  • Other issues you might have considered trying: A cooling towel. Duct tape or gaffer’s tape. A flashlight or a headlamp. Ibuprofen. Goggles. Blister-prevention patches. Extra hair ties. A pen and paper. A Sharpie. A laser pointer. Bandages or different first assist provides. Ear plugs. Saline resolution. Extra face masks. A replica of emergency telephone numbers and a card declaring needed medical data that somebody might have to know for those who’re unable to inform them your self (for instance, you probably have bronchial asthma or for those who’re exhausting of listening to). Medications that want to be taken on a schedule (in a labeled prescription bottle if attainable) with the understanding that you could be be away from dwelling for much longer than anticipated.

We requested some organizers and civil motion specialists about key issues to perceive about protesting. Here’s their recommendation.

Educate Yourself

Do not go to a protest with out realizing what it’s you are preventing for. Don’t present up and ask somebody there to educate you. If you are an ally, do the work your self and examine as a lot as attainable—not solely in regards to the actions you are protesting however the context round them. You may know that reproductive rights are threatened, however have you learnt in regards to the historic battle for entry to abortion in America? There are several books you can read proper now to achieve extra data about this matter.

Realize It’s Not About You

Tony Williams, a member of MPD150, a Minneapolis-based coalition that has studied the historical past of police exercise and seeks police-free options to neighborhood security, shared essential recommendation for anybody who is just not personally impacted, however desires to attend a protest. “The most important thing to realize—especially if you’re a white person going out for the first time to protest police brutality against Black people—is that you’re showing up in solidarity with other people,” mentioned Williams. “It’s not your job to decide how things should go. It’s your job to show up and listen and be in support. Deprioritizing yourself is an incredibly important part of the experience.” Be ready to amplify what others are saying. Be ready to pay attention. If you are not snug with doubtlessly bodily intervening, shielding susceptible protesters from police violence, and listening greater than you converse, your efforts to be an ally are doubtless higher spent elsewhere.

Get within the Right Mindset

Mental preparation is vital. Protesting may be bodily grueling and emotional taxing. You might expertise sheer pleasure. You may cry. You may get offended. You may get scared. Most doubtless, you may expertise all the above. Take the time to put together your self earlier than heading out. Make certain to drink some water, apply sunscreen, and eat a meal.

In the US, it’s entirely within your rights to peacefully exhibit in public. The primary act of assembling and protesting motion by the federal government is certainly protected, in accordance to the First Amendment Coalition, a California-based nonprofit that’s dedicated to defending freedom of speech. Also, as a normal matter, “people have the right to film or otherwise document things that are happening in the public space,” says David Snyder, director of the FAC. “If police demand that you turn over your notes, I would say that you can assume they don’t have the right to seize that.” That mentioned, if it comes down to a matter of drive and you’re bodily outmatched, you will have to weigh the dangers to your speedy private security, doubtlessly have your notes or telephone stripped from you, and pursue authorized motion in a while. Also, Snyder notes, the First Amendment to the Constitution doesn’t defend protesters who interact in illegal exercise, which incorporates destroying property or assaulting different individuals.

Form a Group

If you possibly can keep away from it, do not protest alone. It’s vital that you just go along with a minimum of one different particular person so you possibly can have one another’s backs. There is power in numbers. Know your “roles” throughout the group earlier than you go so that you may be ready for something. For instance, possibly certainly one of you is ready to drive the group dwelling if the state of affairs will get dicey, possibly certainly one of you has first-aid coaching, or possibly certainly one of you is hyper-observant and ready to monitor your environment to maintain tabs on the vibe. Stay shut to your group. Meet up beforehand, stick collectively your complete time, and go away the protest collectively. If you do not have a bunch, verify social media websites—there are most likely discussions the place you could find individuals to meet up with regionally.

Make a Plan

There will probably be lots of people and plenty of feelings. You want to have a plan for what to do if the state of affairs escalates. Pick a spot to meet in case your group will get separated for a sure period of time. (For instance, for those who get separated for greater than half-hour, you meet again at a chosen avenue nook.) It may be good to have a number of spots to meet at in case one is inaccessible. You also needs to have a number of routes deliberate for for those who want to go away and streets are blocked off. Is there a curfew the place you reside? Have earlier protests in your metropolis escalated to violence? Will there be moveable loos stationed alongside the route, or must you map out locations to relieve your self after chugging water all day? Prep a plan.

Take Out Your Contact Lenses

If you are uncovered to tear fuel or pepper spray, contacts will make the expertise a lot worse. Wear glasses you probably have them. If you put on contacts, defend your eyes with sun shades on the minimal, although ideally you may be sporting goggles or conserving them useful. For the identical motive, keep away from sporting make-up or oil-based merchandise like lotions, because the irritants in dispersion measures deployed by police can stick to them.

Write Down Emergency Numbers

Write down your emergency contacts’ data. Write down the variety of emergency authorized counsel—a number of regulation companies supply professional bono illustration for arrested protesters. Research the companies in your space. You may need to write down the variety of an area bond fund. You ought to have two copies of those telephone numbers in your particular person—write them within the notepad stashed in your bag, on the hem of your shirt, or on a notecard that you just maintain in your pocket. As a redundancy, you may as well write them someplace in your physique (like your forearms), ideally in everlasting marker.

While You’re on the Protest

Once you arrive and take part along with your fellow protesters, comply with this recommendation on how to behave and the way to keep secure.

Study Your Surroundings

You can designate a sure particular person in your group to make this a prime precedence, however no matter who you are with, it is best to keep consciousness of what is going on on round you. This is vital for quite a few causes. Is somebody sporting steel-toed boots, a coloured armband, and a listening to machine, and likewise displaying the define of handcuffs of their pocket? That particular person may be an undercover cop. Is somebody carrying a bag of provides emblazoned with a giant purple cross? They may be a avenue medic. Did a protester fall down and get damage whereas marching? Open eyes and ears will assist you to react extra shortly when wanted.

Help Those Around You

If you are marching, you are most likely going to be in shut proximity to a number of dozen different protesters. These are the individuals you may be chanting with, strolling with, and closest to if the state of affairs escalates. Be pleasant with them. Offer them water for those who’ve acquired further, or maintain their stuff whereas they tie their footwear. Solidarity can begin small. Remember that you just’re in an enormous crowd; assume your actions are being watched and that your phrases are being listened to.

Consider the Ethics of Taking Photos

It is your proper to take images at any protest within the streets or on public property. However, a protest is just not a social media picture op. You ought to keep away from taking images of protesters that clearly present figuring out data like their faces or their tattoos, since these images may make them susceptible to abuse or retaliation. Law enforcement may reply with drive for those who level your digicam at them, although it’s properly inside your rights to movie their actions.

A Note on Engaging With the Police

If you are white, you should use your privilege to your benefit. Your presence within the crowd can forestall extra police brutality in opposition to individuals of colour and Black individuals specifically. You can shield people of color with your body if needed and for those who’re snug doing it. You also can movie arrests and police exercise usually—it’s your right to do so. But we will not put together you for each state of affairs you may encounter. Study up on the consequences of the nonlethal weapons that may very well be used in opposition to you. Do what makes you snug and what is smart on the time.

When you are protesting, the actions you do not take may be simply as vital because the actions you do. Here’s some recommendation about what not to do whereas demonstrating.

Don’t Run

Humans, identical to different animals, may be profoundly influenced by this tough factor known as collective behavior. When you are in a bunch, your mind takes cues from mentioned group, and you will react to issues primarily based on how the group reacts. This is why, if somebody begins working when you’re in a crowd, you robotically get the urge to run as properly. You won’t even know why they’re working, however a message in your mind says, “OK, it’s time to go.” Running additionally attracts consideration to your self and people round you, which is not ideally suited at an indication the place protesters are being focused for violence. For these causes, it is vital that you just chorus from working whereas protesting—you may incite a panic, damage somebody, or damage your self. If you want to transfer shortly, that is OK, however strive to keep away from working for those who might help it. If you want to go away the bigger group, transfer shortly and calmly to the sting of the group, out of the throng of individuals. When returning dwelling, strive to discover a aspect avenue or a route that is out of the way in which, and keep along with your smaller group.

Don’t Police Other People’s Behavior

You are going to see plenty of of us behaving in plenty of alternative ways. If any person’s habits makes you uncomfortable to the purpose that you just’re contemplating asking a fellow protester to cease doing one thing, it is time to go away. This consists of emotional public talking, tagging, looting, or upsetting the police. If you are not snug with what’s taking place, take that as your cue to head dwelling.

Don’t Participate in Protest Tourism

Do not journey to one other location to protest. Now is the time to strengthen your ties with your individual neighborhood. You can nonetheless donate to organizations in areas shut to your coronary heart, however when it comes to bodily actions, your power and efforts are greatest spent inside your individual locale.

We cannot put together you for each attainable situation. In unknown conditions, your widespread sense and your greatest judgment ought to information you. But for the circumstances listed under, the following tips might assist you to type a plan.

… You’re Exposed to Tear Gas

Tear fuel is a thick, powdery fog that sticks to moisture like saliva, sweat, tears, and mucous membranes and causes an intense burning sensation. If fuel is used, it is vital to keep calm, as a result of panicking will worsen the consequences. Follow airplane guidelines: Help your self earlier than serving to others. If a tear fuel canister is deployed, transfer away from the cloud, shortly and calmly. Try to maintain your respiration gradual and even. If you are ready, strive to assist these round you progress away from the cloud. Tear fuel is heavier than air and ultimately falls, so transfer to increased floor for those who’re ready.

You’ll want to flush out your eyes. The neatest thing to use for that is water. Protesters and avenue medics have used what’s known as a LAW resolution, which is a combination of fifty % unflavored liquid antacid and 50 % water. Protesters and avenue medics have additionally used a baking soda resolution consisting of a teaspoon of baking soda for each 8.5 ounces of water. These options are totally efficient provided that they’re completely combined. Blinking quickly encourages pure tear manufacturing and might help flush the eyes. Do not use milk; it is much less efficient, can spoil shortly, and may trigger infections, particularly in eyes. You also needs to blow your nostril and spit—and keep away from sniffing or swallowing, as this will likely worsen signs. Change your clothes as quickly as attainable. Take a bathe as quickly as attainable too, however use chilly water, as scorching water could make the burning sensation worse.

… You’re Exposed to Pepper Spray

Some of the identical recommendation applies right here. Move away shortly and check out to stay as calm as you possibly can. Change your garments as quickly as you possibly can. Avoid touching your face or every other space that was uncovered. Pepper spray is oil-based, so it may be trickier to take away, and it spreads over the pores and skin simply. Water will assist with signs, nevertheless it will not take away the irritating oils. LAW resolution, baking soda resolution, or diluted “no tears” shampoo are simpler.

… You Encounter a Violent Police Officer

Say as little as attainable. You are not obligated to have a conversation with the police. In most states, you want to give an officer your identify and deal with in the event that they ask for it. This is why it is vital to search for the precise legal guidelines to your location earlier than the protest. Stay calm, maintain your palms the place officers can see them, and think about filming the interplay as unobtrusively as attainable as a safeguard. You might give you the option to make a plan with the members of your group the place these not concerned in a police encounter can movie it as a bystander. Try to write down or bear in mind the officer’s badge quantity and any defining traits (like peak, eye colour, or tattoos) if the badge quantity is not seen.

… You Encounter the National Guard

Listen to and comply with the orders being dictated by the National Guard. If you’re planning to interact in civil disobedience, be ready for the very sensible situation of encountering crowd-dispersal measures like tear fuel or less-lethal rifle rounds, and getting detained or arrested. Understand the implications which will pertain to you particularly; for those who’re undocumented, an individual of colour, or belong to any marginalized group, your plan of action right here could also be totally different from that of a white protester. Use widespread sense, take cues from the protest organizers, and maintain your security and the protection of others round you in thoughts.

… You’re Arrested or Detained

Since you probably did your analysis earlier than you left, and also you know your rights, you are ready for this. According to the ACLU, it is best to say you would like to stay silent, and instantly ask for a lawyer. Do not resist arrest, even for those who assume what’s taking place is unfair. Write down the badge variety of your arresting officer, if attainable. Ask for a telephone name. Note that arrests throughout protests do not all the time comply with the standard sample of arrests that may ensue from one thing like a site visitors cease. You may be left ready for hours with out entry to a telephone. You won’t have any details about what is going on to occur subsequent, or when. Try to keep as calm as attainable, and comply with directions given to you. If wanted, you possibly can pursue authorized motion when you’re dwelling and secure.

… You See Someone Getting Arrested

If you witness an arrest or police brutality taking place in public, you have a right to film it. Do not intervene bodily, and don’t strive to disguise the truth that you’re recording. If you are white, your presence alone might deter extra police brutality, and filming interactions might additional bolster that deterrence.

If you have been motivated by a selected trigger or name to motion, don’t simply go dwelling after you’ve marched and think about it performed. Follow up with the organizers and ask if there’s extra motion to take or the way you may proceed to push native leaders towards insurance policies you think about extra simply. Even for those who weren’t ready to present up in particular person, there’s nonetheless lots you are able to do from dwelling, says Lila Eltawely, who sits on the board of the Minneapolis-based advocacy group Reviving Sisterhood. “Buying supplies and food for people who are on the ground works too. It’s all a chain,” she says. “Protesting is on a spectrum. Some of us have the ability to go outside and hold up a sign, and some of us are not able to. So whatever helps the overall goal of the current situation helps.”

Additional reporting by Reece Rogers.





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