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 notice that the language used within the present draft from Justice Samuel Alito might additional erode protections surrounding contraception, homosexual marriage, and interracial marriage, which suggests extra civil rights are beneath menace.

This information to secure protesting was initially written in 2020 through the nationwide outcry over police brutality, which overwhelmingly targets Black folks 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 interested by becoming a member of a protest close to you, there are some essential components to take into account: Police brutality is an summary idea for some however a stark actuality for others. Similarly, few folks think about abortion access until they need it. There are methods you’ll be able to contribute to police brutality causes or to abortion funds and independent clinics if you happen to do not feel secure protesting or are in any other case unable to bodily accomplish that. You can even donate time to neighborhood teams, drop off provides for protests, or contact native legislators.

That being mentioned, protesting is a proper of all Americans beneath the First Amendment (extra on that beneath). Before you head out, you need 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 it’s your decision to deliver 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 readily available for a day of protesting. We advocate the next. You in all probability have the whole lot you want round the home, and if not, these things will probably be accessible at your native shops. We’ve included some hyperlinks to on-line retailers in 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 had been to lose my backpack. Use no matter you’ve got readily available that permits you to maintain your fingers free. If you do not have something, we’ve got 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 probability that your protest will embrace a march, so that you want to listen to correct hydration. Carry consuming water. Bring the most important bottle you could 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 happening, with over 1 million Americans useless from Covid-19. Take precautions and canopy your face with a masks or bandana. Face coverings additionally take pleasure in shielding your identification from cameras and police surveillance. (We have a separate information about digital privacy throughout protests.). Bring an additional masks when you have one.
  • A hat and/or sun shades: Aside from shielding you from the solar throughout a protracted day of marching, hats and sun shades can obscure your face from surveillance and shield your privateness. If you put on a hat, and also you’re eager about additional defending your identification, maintain the brim low.
  • Snacks: You are probably in for a protracted 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 take into account. Ensure that your slogan is in large, 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 sturdy tape to create a deal with. You would possibly 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 simply cowl any tattoos, if you happen to can, and that you simply disguise your hair if it is dyed a particular coloration.
  • A change of garments: If you are protesting on a very sizzling day, it’s your decision to have further garments. These can even come in useful if you happen to’re uncovered to substances that may damage your pores and skin or if you happen to’re splashed with paint, gross highway water, or different folks’s sweat. I normally carry a pair of shorts, a tank high, and an additional pair of socks in my backpack.
  • Hand sanitizer: You would possibly end up holding fingers with a stranger, grabbing onto gunky avenue indicators, or tripping and falling right into a puddle. All these eventualities coupled with Covid-19 make hand sanitizer a vital factor to carry. Most shops now have not less than 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 are damaged in and good for strolling lengthy distances.
  • Your ID (perhaps): If you are detained, not having your ID on you would possibly 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 finest judgment, and take into account trying up the legal guidelines in your state for extra particular steerage.
  • Your cellphone (perhaps): To protect your privacy and prevent surveillance, the most effective factor you are able to do is go away your cellphone at residence. Consider utilizing a secondary or burner phone as a substitute. If you need to deliver your cellphone, keep away from utilizing conventional cellphone calls and texts if in any respect potential. Signal is a safe, end-to-end encrypted messaging app that provides 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 cellphone, maintain it turned off till you completely want to use it. This will make it tougher for regulation enforcement to monitor your actions.
  • Cash: Just like your cellphone can go away digital breadcrumbs indicating your whereabouts, utilizing your debit or bank card will make it simpler for the authorities to monitor your actions. Instead, deliver money. Separate your payments; stash some in your bag, and maintain some in your individual, both in your shoe, your bra, your pants pockets, or someplace else safe.
  • An influence financial institution: If you or members of your group could have a cellphone, you want to just be sure you have a method 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 it’s your decision: 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 support provides. Ear plugs. Saline resolution. Extra face masks. A duplicate of emergency cellphone numbers and a card declaring needed medical data that somebody might have to know if you happen to’re unable to inform them your self (for instance, when you have bronchial asthma or if you happen to’re laborious of listening to). Medications that want to be taken on a schedule (in a labeled prescription bottle if potential) with the understanding that you could be be away from residence for much longer than anticipated.

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

Educate Yourself

Do not go to a protest with out figuring out what it’s you are combating for. Don’t present up and ask somebody there to educate you. If you are an ally, do the work your self and research as a lot as potential—not solely in regards to the actions you are protesting however the context round them. You would possibly know that reproductive rights are threatened, however are you aware in regards to the historic struggle for entry to abortion in America? There are several books you can read proper now to achieve extra information about this subject.

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 alternate options to neighborhood security, shared essential recommendation for anybody who shouldn’t be personally impacted, however needs 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 hear. If you are not comfy with probably bodily intervening, shielding weak protesters from police violence, and listening greater than you communicate, your efforts to be an ally are probably higher spent elsewhere.

Get within the Right Mindset

Mental preparation is necessary. Protesting could be bodily grueling and emotional taxing. You might expertise sheer pleasure. You would possibly cry. You would possibly get indignant. You would possibly get scared. Most probably, 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 show in public. The fundamental 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 common 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 power and you’re bodily outmatched, you will have to weigh the dangers to your fast private security, probably have your notes or cellphone stripped from you, and pursue authorized motion in a while. Also, Snyder notes, the First Amendment to the Constitution doesn’t shield protesters who interact in illegal exercise, which incorporates destroying property or assaulting different folks.

Form a Group

If you’ll be able to keep away from it, do not protest alone. It’s necessary that you simply go together with not less than one different individual so you’ll be able to have one another’s backs. There is power in numbers. Know your “roles” inside the group earlier than you go so that you could be ready for something. For instance, perhaps considered one of you is ready to drive the group residence if the state of affairs will get dicey, perhaps considered one of you has first-aid coaching, or perhaps considered 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 all the time, and go away the protest collectively. If you do not have a bunch, verify social media websites—there are in all probability discussions the place yow will discover folks to meet up with regionally.

Make a Plan

There can be lots of people and lots 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, if you happen to get separated for greater than half-hour, you meet again at a delegated avenue nook.) It may be good to have just a few spots to meet at in case one is inaccessible. You also needs to have a number of routes deliberate for if you happen to 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 transportable bogs 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 when you have them. If you put on contacts, shield your eyes with sun shades on the minimal, although ideally you may be sporting goggles or maintaining them useful. For the identical purpose, 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 corporations provide professional bono illustration for arrested protesters. Research the corporations in your space. You may need to write down the variety of a neighborhood bond fund. You ought to have two copies of those cellphone numbers in your individual—write them within the notepad stashed in your bag, on the hem of your shirt, or on a notecard that you simply maintain in your pocket. As a redundancy, you may also 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, observe this recommendation on how to behave and the way to keep secure.

Study Your Surroundings

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

Help Those Around You

If you are marching, you are in all probability going to be in shut proximity to just a few dozen different protesters. These are the folks you may be chanting with, strolling with, and closest to if the state of affairs escalates. Be pleasant with them. Offer them water if you happen to’ve acquired further, or maintain their stuff whereas they tie their footwear. Solidarity can begin small. Remember that you simply’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 photographs at any protest within the streets or on public property. However, a protest shouldn’t be a social media picture op. You ought to keep away from taking photographs of protesters that clearly present figuring out data like their faces or their tattoos, since these photographs might make them weak to abuse or retaliation. Law enforcement may reply with power if you happen to level your digital camera at them, despite the fact that it’s properly inside your rights to movie their actions.

A Note on Engaging With the Police

If you are white, you should utilize your privilege to your benefit. Your presence within the crowd can stop extra police brutality in opposition to folks of coloration and Black folks specifically. You can shield people of color with your body if needed and if you happen to’re comfy doing it. You can even movie arrests and police exercise on the whole—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 results of the nonlethal weapons that might be used in opposition to you. Do what makes you comfy and what is sensible on the time.

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

Don’t Run

Humans, similar to different animals, could 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 based mostly on how the group reacts. This is why, if somebody begins operating when you’re in a crowd, you mechanically get the urge to run as properly. You won’t even know why they’re operating, 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 supreme at an illustration the place protesters are being focused for violence. For these causes, it is necessary that you simply chorus from operating whereas protesting—you would possibly incite a panic, damage somebody, or damage your self. If you want to transfer shortly, that is OK, however attempt to keep away from operating if you happen to 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 residence, attempt to discover a facet avenue or a route that is out of the best way, and keep along with your smaller group.

Don’t Police Other People’s Behavior

You are going to see lots of people behaving in lots of alternative ways. If any individual’s habits makes you uncomfortable to the purpose that you simply’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 comfy with what’s taking place, take that as your cue to head residence.

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 places shut to your coronary heart, however when it comes to bodily actions, your vitality and efforts are finest spent inside your individual locale.

We cannot put together you for each potential state of affairs. In unknown conditions, your frequent sense and your finest judgment ought to information you. But for the circumstances listed beneath, the following pointers might assist you 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 necessary to keep calm, as a result of panicking will worsen the results. 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 respiratory gradual and even. If you are ready, attempt to assist these round you progress away from the cloud. Tear fuel is heavier than air and finally falls, so transfer to greater floor if you happen to’re ready.

You’ll want to flush out your eyes. The smartest 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 p.c unflavored liquid antacid and 50 p.c 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 totally blended. 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 might trigger infections, particularly in eyes. You also needs to blow your nostril and spit—and keep away from sniffing or swallowing, as this will worsen signs. Change your clothes as quickly as potential. Take a bathe as quickly as potential too, however use chilly water, as sizzling 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 take a look at to stay as calm as you’ll be able to. Change your garments as quickly as you’ll be able to. 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, but it surely 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 potential. You are not obligated to have a conversation with the police. In most states, you want to give an officer your title and handle in the event that they ask for it. This is why it is necessary to search for the particular legal guidelines in your location earlier than the protest. Stay calm, maintain your fingers the place officers can see them, and take into account filming the interplay as unobtrusively as potential as a safeguard. You might have 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 keep in mind the officer’s badge quantity and any defining traits (like peak, eye coloration, or tattoos) if the badge quantity is not seen.

… You Encounter the National Guard

Listen to and observe the orders being dictated by the National Guard. If you’re planning to interact in civil disobedience, be ready for the very lifelike state of affairs of encountering crowd-dispersal measures like tear fuel or less-lethal rifle rounds, and getting detained or arrested. Understand the results which will pertain to you particularly; if you happen to’re undocumented, an individual of coloration, or belong to any marginalized group, your plan of action right here could also be totally different from that of a white protester. Use frequent 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, you need to say you would like to stay silent, and instantly ask for a lawyer. Do not resist arrest, even if you happen to suppose what’s taking place is unfair. Write down the badge variety of your arresting officer, if potential. Ask for a cellphone name. Note that arrests throughout protests do not all the time observe the standard sample of arrests which may ensue from one thing like a visitors cease. You may be left ready for hours with out entry to a cellphone. You won’t have any details about what is going on to occur subsequent, or when. Try to keep as calm as potential, and observe directions given to you. If wanted, you’ll be able to pursue authorized motion when you’re residence 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 attempt 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 had been motivated by a selected trigger or name to motion, don’t simply go residence after you’ve marched and take into account it performed. Follow up with the organizers and ask if there’s extra motion to take or the way you would possibly proceed to push native leaders towards insurance policies you take into account extra simply. Even if you happen to weren’t ready to present up in individual, there’s nonetheless so much you are able to do from residence, 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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