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5 Tips For Protesters

Because tough times

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These are meant as general suggestions for folks who are interested in or new to direct action, as more experienced organizers may have different tactics or needs within their organizations.

1. Bring a phone charger

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Charge your phone before going out, and bring a portable charger if you have one. Write necessary phone numbers on your skin in sharpie (the NLG or ACLU is a good idea), but not in an obvious location. Police officers might try to rub them off. Try your ankle or around your wrist. Phone service goes haywire at large protests, so have an emergency meeting place with your friends. Looking forward: download Signal, it's a free messaging app that offers secure end-to-end encryption. If you’re in a scenario where you might get arrested just turn off your phone because legal precedent makes it harder for the police to force you to unlock it.

2. Bring water

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Also snacks, sunglasses, and some cash. Wear comfortable clothing. Bring a current ID; not having one can result in getting arrested for a minor infraction instead of just a ticket.

3. Go with friends

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if possible, and don’t get separated. People by themselves are easy targets for arresting officers. Make sure you have an emergency contact not at the protest who knows where you are. Check in periodically. Avoid leaving the crowd, and watch out for police snatch squads. Get to know the crowd. They will back you.

4. Know Your Rights

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Legally, under the first amendment you can distribute materials, picket, chant, and protest in public areas as long as you don’t block building entrances. If you block streets, chances are you’re engaging in civil disobedience. Know that law enforcement's jurisdictional power varies in different places, for example at airports or college campuses. Your rights may differ in a privately owned space. When interacting with officers, ask if you’re free to go. Ask why you are under arrest until they give you a reason. Tell the officers you do not consent to being searched. If you're being held, give your identifying information, but nothing else. Don’t make any statements without legal advice. Take advantage of your right to three local phone calls.

5. Stay Calm

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Especially if shit starts to go down. Cops will try to divide and conquer. They’ll isolate certain people and threaten arrest, suspension, or revocation of scholarships. If you get arrested, be calm but aware. Make an effort to remember officer names, badge numbers, and patrol car numbers. If you see someone else getting arrested, ask them to shout their name and birthday so you can find them at the precinct later and get help if needed. If you get tear gassed, stay calm. Move upwind, cover your mouth, breathe slowly. Try not to swallow. Don’t rub your eyes or face. Don’t wear contacts. Wash your eyes with saline or water. Liquid antacid wash is the most effective. Put the contaminated clothes in a plastic bag for later and shower with cold water to avoid opening your pores. If you get pepper sprayed, use milk or liquid antacid. Water makes pepper spray worse. Don’t touch the affected areas.

The most important thing to remember...

is to keep checking in with yourself and those around you and only do what you are comfortable with. Take care of yourself and your friends. Although this is a time to start challenging ourselves to practice more resistance, you're no use to the movement in the long haul if you push yourself too hard and compromise your body or mental health. Burn out, panic attacks, dehydration, and feeling overwhelmed are all very real things. If you're not comfortable with direct action or unable to attend protests, for whatever reason, that is OK. There are other ways you can support resistance movements; like art, education, technology, and just existing. Find your lane, and run in it.

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