Jayana Reynolds’s Personal Experience on Peaceful Protests
Recently in my area there were protests happening for a couple of nights in a row. Luckily, they were peaceful protests that did not cause too much of a disturbance. But this still brought much attention to my neighborhood. During the protest that was being led down my street a helicopter shined a bright light down at the protesters. It was unclear if they were being recorded at the time, but the light gave guidance while walking down my slightly dark block. Many of the protestors were wearing masks and seemed to have been practicing social distancing. There was not much police activity on my street for a little while until sadly, the looting and destruction of parts of the city started. I strongly feel as though there is no justification for looting. By taking part of this nothing is being solved and the city is just simply being destroyed. Continuously throughout the night there were many helicopters flying above us making lots of noise and sirens could be heard frequently. It was difficult to sleep, and these events caused my family a little anxiety.
Tips on How to Protest Peacefully
No matter what your protest is about, it is important to take precautions in order to ensure that it does not escalate or lead to chaos. Here are some tips and tricks for you to follow in the event that you decide to start your peaceful protest.
Form a Plan
Sometimes, things do not go the way that you want them to. Create a plan so you and your group know what your protest is about, what roles you are doing, and where you are going. This will be extremely useful in the event that you are either confused about what you are doing or need to rendezvous with your group. To further ensure your safety in the case that you are arrested or need help, bring an emergency contact number.
Go as a Group
As they say, there is strength in numbers. Always go with friends or those who are either connected to you or have experience in peaceful protesting. It is important to have at least one other person with you so they can know your location and watch your back.
Know How to Diffuse the Situation
Occasionally, during a protest, things might start to escalate, which can then lead to panic. Practice methods, such as taking deep breaths or urging everyone to quiet down, which can help you stay calm or de-escalate the situation so your protest does not become violent or chaotic.
Protect Yourself From COVID-19
With COVID-19 still up and about, it is important to take precautions. Make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing so you can protect yourself and anyone around you from it. If possible, bring extra masks with you so you can change your mask (if it gets too dirty or breaks) and provide them to those who do not have one.
Stay Notified of any News From Your Local Government
Local governments often set up guidelines and curfews for people to follow. Always stay informed of these rules and times so you and your group can avoid negative interactions with those trying to enforce these mandates, such as the police.
Bring Only the Essentials
Depending on how long your protest is, bringing too many things can weigh you down. Pack lightly by taking the things that you will need the most, such as an id, water, non-perishable snacks, and a first aid kit.
Educate Yourself on Your Rights
In the event that you end up interacting with law enforcement, it is a good idea to know what they can and cannot do to you. Brush up on your knowledge of your constitutional rights so that they are not violated.