With the more volatile economic climate and weird and wonderful politics of the day, come extreme views and polarizing policies. These often result in more people willing to protest and air their dissatisfaction with the status quo in a more active way. Just a few days ago, Greta Thunberg led a worldwide protest to demand greater action to combat climate change. These protests were peaceful and impactful. They enabled the world to see just how important the planet and its resources are to the youth of today.
If you are keen to flex your inner activist muscles, you must stay safe. This should be your number one priority. The protests that are happening in Hong Kong at the moment utilize more violent strategies and don’t adhere to peaceful protest rules. This doesn’t mean that the protestors don’t have valid viewpoints, but they may not be putting them across in the most effective way. If you want your inner activist to emerge because you feel passionately about an issue, read on to ensure that you are armed with these practical protest essentials.
Go With A Crowd
If you’ve never been to a march or sit in before, it might be worthwhile going with friends. Safety in numbers is important. This way you won’t feel as intimidated should the protest take a nasty turn or if you don’t feel comfortable in the crowd. Being with pals adds a sense of solidarity to the event that you’re attending. Being in a larger group of people that you know means that you can attach yourself to those lone protestors who are looking particularly vulnerable. This can be your good deed for the day.
Charge Your Phone
Your smartphone should be the only valuable thing that you take on protest day. Everything else should be left at home. While you’d like to think that you can trust like-minded individuals at a protest, there will inevitably be infiltrators looking for opportunities to pick-pocket and thieve. You don’t want to be wearing your expensive antique watch that once belonged to your grandmother, only to realise that you don’t have it at the end of the day.
You should make sure that your phone is fully charged and take a power pack with you. You will need your phone for emergencies, but also to record the day. Take videos and pictures. Tweet what you have seen and use the official hashtag to get your protest noticed and even trending globally. Social media is perfect for those events that you want to get noticed. Think of these platforms as free marketing tools. You may even convince some like- minded people to make a trip down to your protest to join in.
Get A Bandanna
While this sounds a little dystopian, it’s vital that you keep yourself safe. Pack yourself a bandanna and some water. You need to soak this bandanna and wrap it around your nose and mouth if you suspect that the government authorities may use tear gas. While not lethal, ingesting this is damaging to your health. You need to make sure that you attend events that won’t slip south. If you are not sure about the efficacy of the event that you are attending, you need to ensure that you have the essentials needed to protect yourself from hazardous substances and poor treatment. If you notice scuffles and disarray, it’s time to move away. Don’t get involved and dissipate away from the crowds. Your safety is paramount.
If you are heading to a protest, make your message even clearer by designing a placard. Some of the best puns and one-liners can be found with a quick Google search, and you can create a witty sign that will hopefully catch the camera of a national newspaper, publicising your message. You might also want to explore a custom-printed T-shirt, or put some custom-made enamel pins on your backpack. Make sure that your message remains on point and isn’t offensive, otherwise people won’t look kindly on your presence.
The chances are that you will be in a public area for your protest, especially if this is some sort of march. As it is a public space, you need to make sure that you remain respectful of those people who aren’t part of the protest, but who are sharing your space. Ensure that you don’t drag them into the protest, and only talk to them if they strike up a conversation with you. Activists have a poor reputation for pushing the constraints of the law, being selfish and not caring about other people in the vicinity. You still need to remain respectful to authority and others.
If there is a police presence, see them as a safety net rather than a threat. The chances are that they want to protect your wellbeing rather than cause public disorder. The climate change protests led by children worldwide were peaceful. The figurehead, Greta Thunberg, made a point of making sure that disorder and violence had no place in the marches. Ensure that you attend events with this sentiment at their core.
If you are arrested by police and you don’t believe that you should have been, don’t get angry or irate there and then. Make sure you wait until you are removed from the protest before you plead your case. Sometimes, you can get caught up with some more unsavoury characters. This is unlucky, but you shouldn’t let the red mist descend. Shouting at a police officer is not a good look, whether you are within your rights to do so or not.
Protesting peacefully is a fundamental human right and embodies our right to free speech. As a newbie protestor, make sure that you adhere to the laws of the land. Stick in a group. Take only the bare essentials. And have fun with a kooky placard. Remember to stay safe, enjoy your experience and make an impact with your message when you allow your inner activist to emerge.