Well, here we are. I can’t say I’m surprised; pretty much everyone saw this coming. But it doesn’t make the blow any easier. And I definitely didn’t see it happening as fast as it did. It’s been less than two years since Barrett was sworn in, and already we are facing the gutting of Roe V Wade.
As we’ve seen reported in the news, and can verify with our own eyes, this draft has disturbing implications. Women ARE going to die. Miscarriages ARE going to become far more traumatic than they already are, with any woman suspected of inducing an abortion potentially being charged with homicide in some states. Women will avoid hospitals. Children are going to suffer. The poor are going to suffer. And once Pandora’s Box is opened, I fear our future will be very bleak indeed.
I am very angry today. I didn’t start out angry. First came the crippling anxiety and dread I’m sure we all felt when we read the leaked draft. I don’t think I’ve been able to think about anything else since the news dropped. Let’s just get to the point of this article.
This is about how to safely protest. I am assuming there are people planning on protesting who may have never marched before. I’m nowhere near the expert, but I’ve been to enough demonstrations to know what to do and what not to do. I also found some dope resources. Let’s get the fuck into it.
DRESS AND ACCESSORIZE CORRECTLY
No, this is not a joke. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking, and a lot of standing. You want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. That means sneakers and breathable clothing. You’re also going to want to reach for a backpack rather than an off the shoulder tote or purse. It’s just more comfortable, and if for any reason you need to disperse quickly, it’s not going to hold you back. You also want to make sure you’re wearing clothing that covers your whole body. It’s going to protect you from the sun, but it’s also going to cover up any identifying tattoos. The latter benefit matters more in certain states than others. You should consider a face mask for the same reason. Depending on what state you’re in, you should consider protective eyewear, and remember: tear gas cans BURN when you touch them. Do NOT touch tear gas canisters.
BRING THESE ESSENTIALS
Put these items in your backpack: A water bottle, some cash (at least $40), your ID, clean socks (the socks are technically optional but I can’t recommend them enough), and a nutritious snack. You will also need emergency contact information in case you are arrested. Write the phone number of your emergency contact somewhere on your body in sharpie. If you wear any sort of medical bracelet, write that information somewhere on your body as well.
You’re representing a movement when you attend a demonstration. It is imperative we remain peaceful, lest we lose credibility. That means no taunting counter protesters who have just as much a right to be there as we do. It also means absolutely no littering. Under no circumstances should a food wrapper be dropped on the street. If something is accidentally knocked over, like a traffic cone or a sign, pick it up.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
You’re safest protesting in public spaces – that’s parks, sidewalks, or in front of government buildings. Some private properties might allow for demonstrations under certain conditions or with certain limitations, but unless you’re the one who obtained the permit, I would play it safe and stay where you 100% have every right to be. You can read all about your rights here. Oh, and on the off chance you are arrested: do not say a word. Request a lawyer and don’t sign anything or say anything. Here’s an excellent explanation of why you should never, under ANY circumstances, talk to the police.
DON’T FUCK WITH THE POLICE
Do not argue or cause conflict with the police. Not only does it give the opposing side the opportunity to discredit the movement, but you can get yourself into trouble too. If you are confronted by the police, remain respectful and make sure your hands are always visible. If you’re arrested, as stated above, zip the lips and call a lawyer.
DON’T BRING THE BLING
Do not bring any valuables with you. Take off your rings, your earrings, anything you wouldn’t want to lose.
I mentioned this under the DOs, but I really want to drive this point home. DO NOT LITTER!! Take your signs home with you or dispose of them properly. On second thought – don’t fucking throw them away. You’re going to need them again.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO GIVE UP
I swear to fucking God. This is the most important “Don’t.” Don’t stop. Don’t give up. This is about our AUTONOMY!!! This is about our rights as human beings. This is about NOT becoming incubators! I am NOT a fucking OVEN!! And neither are you!! Don’t let them turn us into second class citizens!