In the pause: What you need to know during a protest, demonstration, or march

I know many of us will be participating in marches and protests this week and in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead. I’ll be at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. I haven’t participated in anything like this before so I did a lot of research to be prepared. I wanted to pass this on to you and your friends and loved ones who may also be protesting so that we can be both safe and informed. Please feel free to share and repost. It is a lot of information but it is critical for you to have it. I’ve broken up the information into categories to make it easier for you to scan. Some of it I suggest you print out and bring with you as noted below. Though some of it applies directly to the D.C. Women’s March, much of it is applicable for any protest. (Here is a list of sister marches that are happening in every U.S. state and across 6 continents: A sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of you who are standing up and speaking out to protect the rights of all people. Now is the time for action and I appreciate, applaud, and honor each of you who are engaged in the process of social justice.

Meeting spots and pre-march info:
1.) I am gathering a people in the lobby of my D.C. apartment building between 9:00am and 9:15am on Saturday the 21st. At 9:15am, we’ll walk to the starting point of Independence Avenue and Third Street SW (a little over a mile from my apartment). If you’d like to join us, or have friends who would like to join us, please send me a message and I’ll send you my address and cell number. The event begins at 10am. The march is not just for women. Everyone is welcome to participate in the march and I’d love to have you join us. It’s always better to march with buddies.

2.) Please fill out this form to say you’re going to the march so that they have enough relief stations, food trucks, and medical services for everyone.

What to bring (and not bring) with you:
3.) Bring your charged phone, identification, a little cash, and a credit or bank card so that you can buy water and food as needed. It’s a long event and you need to stay hydrated and satiated. I’m also bringing a small water bottle as well as a small stash of medical supplies like bandaids, asprin, Neosporin, etc. Don’t count on being able to have any cell signal. Because of the projected size of the crowd, it is very likely that reception will be spotty at best during the march. D.C. has spotty cell reception to begin with. I plan to turn off my location and have the phone in airplane mode for safety reasons.

 4.) The organizers have worked very hard to make this a peaceful event so let’s do our part to support peaceful, nonviolent action. If you run into any legal issues during the march, there is a legal hotline: 202.670.6866. Write down important phone numbers on your arm such as the National Lawyers Guild hotline (212-679-5100) and friends or family members who can help you in an arrest or emergency situation. Again, I hope we don’t need this information though it is good to be prepared.

5.) No bag or a very small cross-body bag is the best bet for the march. Do not bring a large purse, backpack, or luggage of any kind. And of course, no weapons.

6.) Dress for the weather and weather very comfortable clothes. Right now, the weather is forecast to be 60 degrees and partly sunny, but make sure to check closer to the date so you dress appropriately.

7.) Signs are encouraged though please make sure they do not have sticks attached to them.

8.) Protests and marches are serious business. There is a time and place for being fun and silly; a protest is not that time and place. If you plan to take photos or video during the march, please be mindful of your surroundings and do not let your actions disrupt any of the activities. Let’s be present and mindful in the moment right where we are. If you post to social media, the hashtags for the march are #womensmarch #WhyIMarch #IMarchFor. Posting your support before and after the march is also an awesome way to get the word out and support and encourage others. The handle for the Women’s March is @womensmarch.

(About photography and videography during a protest from the ACLU): When you are lawfully present in any public space, you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and the police. When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs or video. Police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photographs or video without a warrant, nor may they not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances. However, they may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations.

9.) There are places near the march route that have opened their doors and hearts to us throughout the day. These can be used as meeting spaces and rest stops. Have this printed in case you can’t get any cell signal: (list) (map)

10.) The ACLU has a double-sided demonstration guide with useful phone numbers and tips. I hope none of us need this but it is good to be prepared. Have this printed in case you can’t get any cell signal.

11.) Please get enough rest the night before the march, eat well the morning of, and do not drink alcohol before or during the march. It’s not safe for you or for anyone else.

12.) This is a peaceful, non-violent protest. Please be mindful of your words, actions, and reactions.

13.) There will be medical stations set up along the march route and there will be march volunteers and trained marshals to help you with anything you need. You will be ale to easily identify them. There will also be private security guards as well as police officers who will be able to help you in case of an emergency.

14.) Do not fight with other protesters in regards to their protest tactics, and know that there may be counter-protesters along the route. Do not engage with counter-protesters; this is not the time for letting emotions and tempers fly or for making smart remarks and retorts. Things can escalate very quickly in this type of circumstance and your actions could derail the meaning of the march. If someone says something offensive, ignore them and walk away from them.

15.) Stay off of people’s private property so you don’t get arrested for trespassing. Don’t litter or deface anyone’s private property. Don’t throw things. Don’t incite or participate in violence in any way.

16.) If you are stopped by the police or arrested (from the ACLU):
Stay calm, be polite, and don’t run. Don’t argue, resist, or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or you believe that the police are violating your rights. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself, but you do not have to provide an ID or other paperwork. Make sure to keep your hands where police can see them. Point out that you are not disrupting anyone else’s activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions. Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away.

Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair. If you are under arrest, you have a right to ask why. Otherwise, say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. Don’t say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer. You have the right to make a local phone call, and if you’re calling your lawyer, police are not allowed to listen.

You never have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. Police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect you have a weapon, and may search you after an arrest. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do explicitly consent, it can affect you later in court.

Remember: the street is not the place to challenge police misconduct. Don’t physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint. As soon as you can, write down everything you remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first). Once you have this information, you can file a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board; in many cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish. You can also seek the assistance of an attorney or the ACLU.

More information:
17.) Women’s March website – in D.C. and sister marches across the globe

18.) Washington Peace Center

19.) ACLU

20.) Know Your Rights

I'd love to know what you think of this post! Please leave a reply and I'll get back to you in a jiffy! ~ CRA

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