“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail
Between all of the environmental, political, and social upset the past few years, it seems like there isn’t a shortage of things to protest over. The purpose of nonviolent protests is, per Dr. King in the Letter, to create tension that forces negotiation. Sometimes protesting includes civil disobedience, that is, breaking an unjust law, so protesting can carry consequences. But how can you safely exercise your First Amendment rights in a time of COVID-19 and police brutality?
Like with any emotionally charged situation, things can go from bad to worse in a manner of minutes, so taking the time to plan for the worst-case scenario beforehand is vital. Whether you are going alone or in a group, it is important to make sure that you have taken the time to figure out:
- When and where the protest is happening
- What time you plan to get there
- When time you think you will leave
- What type of situations would make you want to leave
- How you are going to get back home
- Where you will meet your group if you all get separated
- What you will do if you get arrested
Bring a Buddy
Going with others can be safer than going alone, especially if things start getting out of control. Having at least one trusted friend, acquaintance, or family member with you means that you will have someone willing and able to support you in real time should anything go wrong.
Pack Right, Pack Light
When considering what to bring to a protest, a good rule of thumb is not to bring anything that you would not want to lose or be in your possession if arrested, such as illegal drugs and weapons. Some examples of things that you should bring are:
- Your ID
- Portable charger
- First aid kit
- Hand sanitizer
- Prescription meds (in original bottle)
Getting Ready for the Day
When picking out something to wear on the day of, try to pick loose, plain clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible– especially if you have any marks, tattoos, birthmarks, etc. that could easily identify you.