It’s getting real out here!
It feels like every day that Trump is President, our unassailable human rights become more at risk. And while millions of strong, amazing and fearless women and men have taken up the mantel of defending the tenants of our democracy they simply can’t be expected to hold the front lines alone.
Sooner than later, we’re all – and by “all,” I mean those who believe in equal protection under the law for everyone, civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights and that we have a responsibility to be a refuge for those most at risk – are going to have hit the streets in peaceful protest to make sure our collective voices are heard.
So far, I’ve attended two protests – the Millions Women’s March and a Black Lives Matter rally – and decided to pull together a list of what I’ve learned to help other novice activists get prepared to join upcoming demonstrations around the country.
I’ll be updating this list with more tips as I attend more protests and engage with more organizers, so check back regularly. And, if you have key protest preparation tips of your own – drop them onto my Facebook page and I’ll share.
Remember, we’re in this together.
#Resist: 11 Tips to Prepare for Your First Protest:
Whenever possible travel to and from protests, rallies, and marches in groups. If you’re linking up with your friends at the event, plan to meet in a well-lit public place a few blocks away from the event and then walk over together. If you do decide to attend a protest alone, make sure you tell your plans to someone you trust. You can also use an app like Companion to let them track when you arrive at the demonstration and when you depart for home.
It’s easy to get lost in the crowd at a march or rally. Discuss where you and your friends will meet if you get separated from each other. Also, set up a group chat on What’s App – or another free messaging service – so you can communicate with everyone quickly and easily. Lastly, make sure everyone you are traveling with has your emergency contacts (significant others, parents and/or siblings) saved in their phones and vice versa.
Sharing pictures and videos of you and other passionate attendees on social media is a great way to motive other people you know to become more engaged. So feel free to Tweet, Instagram, Snap, Facebook Live and more. Just be sure not to reveal any details that could jeopardize your safety. For instance, never post on social media where your meeting your group of friends before or after a rally or share when you or your friends are heading home.
Taking and sharing a lot of photos will drain your phone’s battery fairly quickly. And, having hundreds – or hundreds of thousands – of phones pulling signal from cellular towers at the same time will also cause your cell to die faster than normal. Invest in a portable battery pack that will keep your phone powered throughout the event so you can stay connected. Just remember to charge it before you head to the protest.
I’m digging this lightweight, affordable one from ZILU.
Back It Up:
Switch your phone to automatic uploads for your videos and photos during the time that you are attending the demonstration. Luckily the protests I’ve attended have been without incident. But, if you lose your phone or it is seized (lawfully or unlawfully), you’ll have an automatic backup of everything you captured.
- How to Turn On/Off Automatic Uploads for iCloud
- How to Turn On/Off Automatic Uploads for Dropbox
- How to Turn On/Off Automatic Uploads for Google Drive
Mother nature may not have gotten the memo in some parts of the country, but it is officially winter. That means huge drops in temperature between early morning and night. Obviously, you can huddle with your fellow protesters for warmth, but I’d recommend dressing in layers to stay toasty.
Also, large crowds move slowly. During the Millions Women’s March, it took about 4 hours to walk less than two miles in the New York City crowd. You’ll be exposed to the elements for long periods, so bundle up with a sweater, scarf, vest, hat gloves, leggings, pants, and jacket.
You might also want to buy a vest or jacket with lots of pockets. Backpacks and purses are prohibited during some demonstrations and you’ll need an easy way to carry everything you’d normally have in a bag.
Being an active protester means spending a lot of time on your feet. As I learned the hard way, slipping on an old pair of sneakers may not provide the correct support for knees or feet. You may want to dust off your hiking boots – if the soles aren’t worn out- or invest in a new pair.
Luckily one of my husband’s friends thought to bring snacks for our group for our most recent march. I’d recommend bringing at least 1 liter of water per person for a four-hour protest. You’ll find yourself thirsty from the constant walking and chanting. Also, you should eat a full meal before the event and bring energy bars, trail mix, and dried fruit to help keep you fueled.
Know Your Rights:
The time find out your rights as a protest participant is not after you have an issue. Familiarize yourself with the rights of protesters before you attend your first march or rally. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a great resource for learning what you legally need to know before you exercise your constitutional right to protest.
They also sell an affordable “Know Your Rights” 30-pack of pocket-size cards. You can keep one in your wallet and hand out the rest to your fellow demonstrators and friends protesting with you.
Even though you’re protesting serious issues, don’t forget that you are standing with hundreds – if not thousands – of people who’ve come out for the same reasons you did. Talk to them, have a laugh, share your snacks and make some new friends. Things may be pretty scary, but coming together reminds us how much more alike we are than we are different. Take comfort in that and enjoy your time with your fellow demonstrators.
Take Care of Your Mental Health:
Protesting can take a lot out of you. You’re on your feet for long periods, your voice gets hoarse from chanting and you’re probably cold, tired and hungry by the end. At the end of the demonstration, take some time to unwind and decompress. Grab a glass of wine with a friend, watch an episode of your favorite show and/or read a book. Do anything you love that helps you relax and get centered.
Enjoy the small post-protest moments, so that you’re in a good mental space for the next one. And, yes. There will be a next one.