We all want to be heard. Standing up for Black Lives Matter and marching with people who share the same values is essential for our democratic process. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.” Peaceful protest means that we can go home safely knowing that our voices have been heard.
Be prepared and check off items on this list before you go. Your safety should be a priority. Everything else comes after that. The only way to make a lasting impact is to raise our voices to power whenever it is necessary in our daily lives.
- Wear a mask
Did you forget that there’s still a coronavirus pandemic going on? Don’t put yourself in unnecessary risk if you don’t have to. Wear a mask and bring extras for friends and fellow protestors. If you have a disposable mask you may accidentally damage your mask while shouting and drinking water. Having extra masks will give you peace of mind. Or bring a reusable mask that is more durable.
- Go with a friend
There are always risks when you go to a protest. Tell someone that you are going. Better yet, go with a friend. Show up as a group so that you can protect each other if things go wrong. At the very least, you should have a buddy to enter and exit the protest together. Use a permanent marker to write the contact number of your family on your arm in case you run into trouble.
- Learn where to enter and where to exit
Protests can cover blocks of city streets. Just because you entered in one place, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to exit there. When you are marching, you need to have a general understanding of where you are going. Be on the lookout to identify points of exit in the event of emergencies. If you have only a few minutes to exit, where should you go?
- Charge your phone
Emergencies may happen. You may need to contact someone to get you out of a bad situation. You need your phone fully charged and ready to go when you need it.
- Bring supplies
Even if you know that it’s a peaceful protest, you can’t control how other people act. Prepare for the worst by bringing enough supplies to last the amount of time that you want to protest. If you can bring a backpack and with some supplies you will be better prepared. Having a first aid kit in case you or others get hurt would be helpful. Make sure that you can call for help by bringing a backup phone battery. A small carton of milk would be useful to wash your eyes out if you’ve been pepper-sprayed or tear-gassed. You may need a hand towel and hand sanitizers to stay clean. If the weather is hot, an extra t-shirt might be handy.
Things to bring:
- First aid kit
- Hand towel
- Hand sanitizer
- External phone battery
- Extra T-shirt
- Medications that you need
- Bring common sense
There have been arrests in some cities. The police may use kettling, blockading a group of protesters to round them up for a mass arrest. Stay clear of heated situations to avoid being arrested. Apply common sense whenever you can. You need to be responsible for your own actions, but the actions of those around you may also inadvertently affect you.
- Don’t run if the police chase you.
- Use your phone to record and share injustice if you see it so that you can stay safe and protect others.
- Don’t infringe on people’s privacy by taking pictures unnecessarily. Ask them and get their consent if you are unsure.
- If there’s a respectable leader that seems to be organizing the protest to make sure that the protest is peaceful, follow their lead.
- Leave your kids home.
Until you know that your children can be responsible for their own actions, your kids should probably stay home. There are other ways to make your voice heard and teach them about the Black Lives Matter movement. The National Education Association published a list of Black Lives Matters Resources that you can use to teach your kids about the importance of equality. They can integrate equality into their lives by treating people with respect.
- Be Vigilant
Be on the lookout for bad actors. There are people out there who are taking advantage of the situation. Look out for these people and stay clear of them. Use your own judgment to stay peaceful and to stay safe. Help people around you. They are your brothers and sisters in this cause.
If you see kettling warn others and exit the area if you can.
Here’s what to do if you encounter certain situations such as tear gas, pepper spray, violent police officers, etc..
Stay safe, free while speaking up is the key.
- Keep your goals in mind.
What is the reason that you want to participate in this protest? You need to keep your goal in mind at all times. If you are there to protest peacefully, then, try to stay peaceful even if bad actors provoke you. Your voice matter. You cannot speak up if you are in jail.
- Follow up and live your values.
We all want to participate in the Black Lives Matter movement. We want to demonstrate our values during the protest. But the issues don't go away after the protest. Use your imagination and creativity to live your values in your daily life. Write about your experiences during the protest. If you are inspired by marching and protesting, then record your experiences and share it to inspire others.
Speak up when you see injustice in your daily life. When you reiterate the values that brought you to the protest in the first place, then these values can be heard, shared, and spread.
Here’s what Martin Luther King Jr. had to say about the importance of peaceful protest.