Between ongoing transphobia in the media, the enabling of gun violence, and the collapse of abortion rights as we know it, there are plenty of reasons to go out and protest. It's one way to make your voice heard and take steps toward progress and equality for those who, even in 2022, still don't have it. It's important to keep fighting for what we believe in through whatever means are available to us. It's also important to make sure you stay safe while doing so.
Protesting isn't as simple as holding up a sign and walking among a crowd. There are lots of things to consider to ensure that you can protect your physical and mental health while attending a demonstration. Whether you're an old hat at marching among protesters or are attending your first demonstration, you should always mind your own well-being when fighting for a cause. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while protesting.
Protest Safety Tip No. 1: Go with a group.
It's always best to attend a protest alongside people you know. Protests can become crowded and hectic as people gather, so it's important to maintain a buddy system where everyone can keep each other safe and oriented. Make sure to have everyone's contact information in case you get separated.
Protest Safety Tip No. 2: Have a "go bag" ready.
While you yourself are the most important presence in a protest, you'll want to have a bag full of essentials. That includes your wallet and ID as well as any prescribed medications you might be taking (inhalers, EpiPens, etc.). Try to travel light, but make sure you're prepared for anything.
Protest Safety Tip No. 3: Bring snacks and water.
Attending a protest can take up a lot of energy throughout the day. Be sure to bring plenty of snacks and water to keep yourself fueled and hydrated during a march or a demonstration.
Protest Safety Tip No. 4: Be cognizant of the weather.
Many protest organizers will state whether the weather will be a factor when holding an event. Check the weather on the day of the demonstration to make sure you're prepared.
Protest Safety Tip No. 5: Record as much as you can (using a burner phone).
This is especially vital if authorities get involved in the mix. If things turn violent, you may want to record certain events for future reference, but do not put yourself in harm's way while capturing the protest.
Since your personal cell phone contains a treasure trove of sensitive information about you, you may want to consider getting a burner phone and keeping it off until you get to the protest location. If you do bring your own phone, make sure to back up the data and consider removing all personal data from it before heading out (you can always put it back when you get back from the protest).
Protest Safety Tip No. 6: Remember your rights when dealing with authorities.
Amnesty USA has a useful guide on how to interact if you're stopped by authorities for any reason. It's important for both you and the authority in question to recognize the rights you have to protest in the streets. If you find that your rights are violated, you may be able to file a complaint.
Protest Safety Tip No. 7: Wear masks and have hand sanitizer.
In case you've forgotten, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. In a crowded and busy protest, it's important to wear a mask and keep yourself sanitized whenever possible.
Remember: You are as important as the causes you support. Protest safely!