Protest Preparation Tips for Activists
More than ever, the world needs activists making sure their voices are being heard. At SignUp, we believe that when people get together, great things happen. If you feel moved to join a protest or a rally, here are some helpful things to do and to avoid.
1. Check the weather forecast. Be prepared for the anticipated weather – apply sunscreen or tuck in some plastic bags to keep your cell phone and wallet dry.
2. Make signs. These don’t have to be super-elaborate; permanent marker on poster board is works great. (Permanent marker is a good idea in case of rain.) Be concise and legible and avoid profanity. PRO TIP: Make extra signs to hand out to fellow protesters that did not bring their own.
3. Hydrate. Protesting is thirsty work! Drink a lot of water beforehand and take a couple of bottles of water with you to keep your energy up. (Just in case, scope out the availability of portable toilets!)
4. Make a plan with your posse. Cell service is often spotty in large groups of people, so make a plan in advance with the people you’re going with – discuss where to meet and at what time in case you get separated. Make sure that you tell the plan to someone who isn’t going so they can follow up to make sure everyone is safe and accounted for after the event. PRO TIP: Find a way to visually spot people in your group with relative ease – have each person wear a bright yellow glove they an raise in the air if separated.
5. Plan your transportation ahead of time. Parking close to the event will probably be limited, and public transportation will likely be rerouted if it’s a large gathering. So, finalize your details ahead of time. Explore whether shuttle buses are being arranged from outlying parking lots, or arrange for a rideshare car service to pick you up at a specific spot.
6. Wear face masks and bring hand sanitizer. Protect yourself and others by reducing the risk of spreading airborne illnesses, such as as the coronavirus, by covering your nose and mouth with a face mask and using hand sanitizer regularly. You may also consider goggles for eye protection.
7. Write an emergency contact number on your body in permanent marker. You’ll probably never need it, but it’s good to take the precaution in case you have a medical emergency or are detained and your cell phone is taken away. If you’re bringing kids, it’s a good idea to write your cell number and the number of someone not at the protest on their arms just in case you get separated.
8. Charge your cell phone and carry a spare battery. Cell service may be limited, but you may want to film the event or take pictures of clever signs. Be sure to ask permission before you take a picture of someone.
9. Wear comfy shoes and clothes. Every protest or rally means a lot of standing! Dress in layers in case the weather changes.
10. Share your experience. One of the best things about activism is that it reminds you that you are not alone. Use the common hashtag of the event/cause and share your photos, video and stories on social media; this has the added bonus of increasing the reach of the protest and encouraging others to get involved.
11. Take your kids. It's never too young for kids to see their parents get excited and involved about a cause they're passionate about. If safe and appropriate, include your kids in the protest plans. Just remember that most rallies and protests aren't geared toward children, so bring strollers, snacks, and something to do for the littlest activists.
12. Keep it peaceful but keep it LOUD. The point of pretesting is to have your voice heard without inciting violence.
Don’t stop with one event! Continue supporting the causes you care about by consistently sharing your views with your elected officials and congresspersons. Check out Common Cause and find out who represents you in congress.
Donate money and time to the causes you are standing up for and plan ongoing support and action -- SignUp's free volunteer management software lets you coordinate participation in calling campaigns and advocacy days, and even communal potlucks to plan your next event!