How to protest safely

How to protest safely

by loljapes

The aspiring protester in 2020 must find ways to keep themselves safe from the twin dangers of COVID and the police. COVID is merely an errant strand of RNA that can have no conception of the havoc it’s causing humanity. The police, on the other hand - are another matter.

Staying safe from the police

The Nib has published a ‘Safer in the streets’ comic which summarizes a variety of tactics that aim to frustrate police attempts to suppress street protests. The main takeaways are to keep together in a block, stay mobile, avoid getting surrounded by police and avoid getting arrested. The Nib even provides a black-and-white version that can be printed and distributed at protests to inform others.

Wired has a rundown of items you may want to consider bringing with you to a protest, as well as items that might be better left at home. Cell phones are a real pain-point here, because they’re probably the most common device people use to film police, but they also provide a lot of information about your location and communication to the authorities.

Staying safe from COVID

Although some health authorities have given advice on precautions to take while protesting, there’s still a lot of danger involved in going to an event where you’ll be in contact with large numbers of people. The CDC says anyone over 50 and anyone with basically any ongoing health condition is at increased risk of severe illness. If you fall into those groups, or you’ll be in regular contact with someone who does, it’s worth giving serious consideration to whether you should attend an in-person protest at all.

For those who decide to attend protests, the recommendations from health experts have basically been the same as for anyone leaving their home during the outbreak: wear a mask, try and stay 2 meters away from others and regularly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. The difficulty comes when COVID precautions conflict with precautions taken against the police. Keeping 2 meters between you and everyone else is already practically impossible in any crowd, and becomes even more difficult when you’re trying to ‘fill in’ space to avoid a police flank. Contingencies like these will likely have to be worked out ad hoc, on-the-ground.


The JI Newsletter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. If using material from the newsletter, please credit the author and provide a link to the relevant newsletter in your attribution. Any content produced using material from the JI newsletter must be licensed under the same terms.