Protest for Black lives (safely)

The protests have not stopped because police brutality towards Black bodies has not stopped. In fact, police brutality is on full display (see above) and the world is watching. Our leaders, particularly local leaders who generally do not receive as much attention are in the spotlight, and adding your voice to the protests is one of the best ways to keep them there until they deliver meaningful reform.

This revolution is taking place during a global pandemic – a pandemic that is also killing Black people at highly disproportionate numbers – and gathering in large groups may seem contrary to the guidance you’ve received of late. We’re not telling every member of the OD Action community that you-must-attend, as we certainly do not know the nuances of each personal situation. In fact, there are many ways to contribute (donating money, providing valuable skills such as pro bono legal assistance, making phone calls to reps, or writing letters to newspaper editors, etc). But, this movement will be more successful the more people are physically in attendance at protests, including and especially White and non-Black POC allies.

So if protesting makes sense for your situation and you have assessed the risks, here are some tips for keeping yourself and others as safe as possible:

  • Basic pandemic safety: Wear a mask, pack extra hand sanitizer, and maintain six feet of social distancing whenever possible. Take your temperature before you head out.
  • Basic protest safety: Go with a buddy and memorize their phone number. Agree on a  plan, including how to reconnect if separated. Write your emergency contact number on your arm with a sharpie. Leave jewelry and other precious items at home.
  • Surveillance safety: Turn your phone on airplane mode or leave at home and do not post photos of protesters’ faces to social media. Install and use the ACLU Mobile Justice App to ensure any videos of police misconduct you record stay safe in the cloud if your phone is seized.
  • Tear gas/pepper spray safety: Do not wear contact lenses or eye makeup. Do wear safety goggles or swim goggles. Flush your eyes with water and skin with soap and water (but do not rub eyes or skin) and read up on the treatment specifics in advance.
  • Know your rights: Review the ACLU’s quick guide to your right to protest, and what to do if detained or arrested.
  • Trust your instincts: If your gut says something isn’t safe (pandemic, police, or other), listen to your gut.

Show up for justice. Stay safe. Black Lives Matter.

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