10 Tips for Staying Safe During a Protest Rally
Part of participating in a democracy is exercising your right to protest. Attending rallies always comes with a certain degree of risk, but that shouldn't scare us away from standing up for our convictions or holding the government to account. We can minimize the risks of protesting by being prudent and prepared.
1| Go with a group.
After all, there’s safety in numbers. Find people you can trust to look out for you, and form a buddy system.
2| Have an escape plan in case things get hairy.
Check out a map of the protest venue beforehand. On your way there, note different escape routes, and set a meeting place with your group in case you get separated.
3| Make sure people know where you are.
Tell your family or friends who aren’t attending the rally where you’re going. If you’re using iOS, you can also share your location with them via iMessage so that they can track your whereabouts.
4| Know your rights, so that you can assert them if you need to.
If policemen try to question you, politely ask them why they are doing so. Remember that you can refuse to give them your name, and that they don’t have the right to search you or inspect your belongings without a warrant. Keep a copy of this Paralegal Bust Card with you, in case they try to arrest you.
5| Bring an ID and emergency contact information with you.
In case you get injured and separated from your friends, make it easy for good samaritans to help you out.
6| Charge your phone and bring a power bank.
Use it to document the rally and—if ever—any occurrences of police brutality. You’ll also need it to contact your friends if you lose sight of them, or to call your family in case of an emergency.
7| Be prepared for tear gas.
According to Amnesty International, you should avoid using oil-based sunblock or lotion and wearing contact lenses, since these can trap irritating chemicals. Wear a rain jacket and closed-toed shoes, as well as goggles or shatter-resistant glasses and a gas mask. If you don’t have a respirator, an N95 mask will do. Bring milk to flush the tear gas out of your eyes, and if possible, a change of clothes in a plastic bag.
8| Bring food and water.
Remember to stay hydrated. If you’re feeling generous, bring extra food to share with others.
9| Bring a first-aid kit.
It never hurts to be a boy scout. If you’re on any form of medication, bring a couple days’ worth in case things get ugly and you aren’t able to go home.
10| Keep calm and encourage others to do the same.
The last thing we want is to give the powers that be an excuse to declare martial law. If someone next to you starts to panic or become aggressive, try to calm them down by being empathetic and listening to their concerns. But if you sense that things are starting to get out of hand, it’s best to leave the area.