How to Stay Safe During a Protest: 7 Things You Can Do
Did you know that 93% of racial justice protests in the United States are peaceful and non-destructive? That doesn’t mean there aren’t risks when joining one though.
Regardless of the cause you support, your safety is your primary concern when you’re protesting. If this is your first time protesting, you might not know things related to protest safety. Without keeping these in mind, you might end up getting injured if anything untoward happens.
Don’t panic yet.
With this guide, you’ll learn how to stay safe during a protest. This ensures you’ll know what to do when chaos erupts. Read on and find out more.
1. Know Where to Protest
Police and government officials can place certain restrictions on exercising your speech rights. Because of this, it’s advisable to protest in more traditional public forums. This includes the streets, sidewalks, and parks.
You can also express your free speech in front of government buildings. This applies only when you aren’t blocking access to the building. You must also ensure that you aren’t interfering with the building’s functions.
Keep in mind, private property owners can have their rules for speech within their property. That’s why you must avoid staging a protest on someone’s property, even if it’s a privately-owned business. Go to the sidewalks and other public areas if you want others to hear your message.
2. Consider Police Involvement
Counter-protesters have their free speech rights as well. Police must treat both protester groups equally, meaning they can keep two opposing groups separated.
Also, law enforcers can break up gatherings if they see a clear and pressing danger of a riot. This also includes other immediate public safety threats like disorder or traffic interferences. The caveat is that they must inform everyone about the dispersal order.
This includes the amount of time everyone has to disperse and the legal consequences if protesters resist. Their rights also allow them to set an exit route for protesters to follow before arresting them.
3. You Can Take Photos
Being lawfully present in a public space means having the right to photograph anything in plain view. This includes police and federal buildings. For private properties, the owners have the power to set the rules regarding photos and videos.
So, if you’re protesting on private property, be sure to follow their rules. Otherwise, you might face some legal consequences. It won’t do to become one of the 10,000 people arrested during the height of this year’s protests.
Always remember that the police have no right to confiscate or see the videos or photos you took. They can only do this once they secured the proper warrant. However, they can’t delete your data, regardless of the circumstance.
But if the police deem that you’re interfering with legitimate law enforcement functions, they can order you to cease these activities. It’s wise to follow their command since they have the legal right to do so. Don’t risk getting into legal altercations unnecessarily.
4. Go as a Group
If you must protest about something, it’s better to find like-minded people and protest as a small group. Get everyone’s contact information to ensure that your group can reach each other even when the chaos separates you. An alternative is to write some numbers on your body using a permanent marker in case some members’ phones break or get lost.
Also, discuss your rendezvous area if you get separated. Plan on your methods of exiting the protest area in case things take a turn for the worse. If you can’t attend the protest but still want to support your group, become someone’s offsite contact in case they get arrested or injured.
5. Make Informed Decisions
Before you attend a protest, know the person organizing it and their plan. This will allow you to know whether the group you chose to support aligns with your causes. The worst thing that can happen to you is to protest alongside people giving off mixed messages.
Think about the risks and legal implications and weigh whether joining is worth your time. You must also know the group’s special instructions like the meeting place, parking space for vehicles, and the venue.
Consider whether it’s necessary to bring your phone. It’s a great safety measure, but you might end up compromising your privacy. Especially when your phone tags your location when you take photos and videos.
As a precaution, ensure that your phone has a password. You can disable other sign-in capabilities like fingerprint and face recognition. This ensures that no one can access your phone without knowing your passcode.
Backup your phone and delete all unnecessary information. After all, you can always restore it once you’re back home safe.
6. Know What to Bring to a Protest
With the current health crisis, you must protect yourself with health and safety items. It means getting face coverings, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, medications, and sun protection. Regardless, pack light since you might end up walking for a while before getting to your destination.
Also, bring your ID and insurance cards in case emergencies happen. Pack some water, snacks, and cash to ensure that you have enough sustenance to maintain your health. For your protection, you can check out some of the best body armor at https://legionary.com.
7. Practice Social Distancing
The safest way on how to protest is to distance yourself away from people you don’t know. This ensures you won’t get sick. Always be aware of your surroundings and ensure that you’re at least six feet away from other people.
If this isn’t possible, wear your mask and avoid unnecessary contact with other people.
Learn How to Stay Safe During a Protest Today!
These are some of the things you must learn about how to stay safe during a protest. Again, your safety is your top priority when attending these events. Never forget this fact and you’ll be fine.
Of course, the fight doesn’t end here. To learn more safety tips, whether when protesting, traveling, or enjoying a vacation, don’t hesitate to continue reading more of our in-depth tutorials and posts right here.