From Wired How-To Wiki
From Egypt to London to Wall Street, people everywhere have been banding together and taking to the streets (and the internet) to make their discontentments heard. But as we've seen, protesting can be risky, as peaceful protests can turn violent in an instant. Furthermore, certain behaviors can unexpectedly land even the most benign citizens behind bars. Being informed is key, which is why we've put together this Wired guide to protesting, which includes virtually everything you need to know about exercising your free speech rights.
And if we missed anything, you can log in and add it.
- Get organized. The typical images that come to mind when thinking of a protest are angry people waving signs, chanting, and possibly starting fires. Contrast this with the typical police response — uniformed, stoic, and organized — and realize that stereotyped expectations can put protestors at risk regardless of if laws are broken. It may be hard to stay organized when you’re furious enough to march and protest, but thinking and organizing like law enforcement will help you level the playing field.
- Gather in an open area, like a park. This is one way to stave off kettling, the penning in of protesters by law enforcement.
- Appoint three to five leaders and give them something to indicate their position — a sign, a colored flag, etc. Each leader leads their own march to whatever people are protesting, which will reduce the chances of everyone getting penned in by kettling.
- Have a buddy: Your kindergarten teacher had the right idea: if you’re watching out for someone else, you’re less likely to get caught up in something, or lost, and if something happens to you, you will always have someone who knows what went down.
- Keep a cool head: We can’t stress this enough. The wilder the protests get, the closer they edge toward rioting, which can lead to loss of property, injury, and a violent reaction from law enforcement. You’re there to make a point, not bust stuff up.
Health and Safety
So you’re keeping a level head, but everyone around you is driving the crowd toward mob think. The mace gets broken out, the kettling net goes up, and things get very bad. What now?
- Prevention: Many consider kettling a human rights violation since it keeps people detained for hours without any toilet or water facilities. If this looks possible, carry some light snacks and a water bottle with you. Use the bathroom before you go. Carry a small portable first aid kit.
- Mace protection and treatment: Learn how to Survive a Mace Attack from this detailed guide, also on the Wired.com How-To Wiki.
- Don’t resist. People who resist law enforcement demands during a protest often get hurt. Which causes more unrest. If your detainment is illegal, read on.
- Stay Sober. Imbibing in alcohol or drugs will impair your judgment, as well as reinforce the opinion that the protesters are just drunk troublemakers. More excellent advice from the Survival Guide for Citizens During a Revolution, published by Anonymous.
Yes, you have the right to protest. You have the right to speak your mind. But when the police try to make arrests and things get ugly, courtroom rulings are light years away-all that matters is that moment. If your rights have been abused, get through the situation safely and then call a lawyer.
- Phone numbers: Keep your lawyer’s number with you — like literally written on your arm in Sharpie. If you get arrested and your personal effects are taken away, then you will at least have that. Remember those numbers you plugged into your cell phone and never made an effort to memorize? Like your mom’s, your best friend’s, or your spouse’s work number? Write those down, too.
- Make Sure You Understand Your Rights. The ACLU has some excellent information on your rights during a protest. Learn these points and remember them.
- Carry an ID. New York has a Stop and Identify law which means if a cop thinks you're involved in criminal behavior (which they likely will do when you're protesting, despite the first amendment), they can demand your ID. Twenty-seven other states also have this law (as of 2008).
Recording a Protest
When stuff inevitably starts to go down, you want to be able to show the world. What do you do to make sure you stay on the recording side of the camera?
- See our detailed guide on how to Prepare Your Digital Camera to Document a Protest, which includes instructions on how to set up your camera settings for optimal speed and discreteness, fast uploading tips, a guide to capturing useful footage, and instant uploading methods.
- See our detailed guide on how to Record Law Enforcement Abuse, which details your rights to record law enforcement (did you know it's illegal in Chicago?), and locations on the web to report and expose violations for the world to see.
- Charge your equipment: Most cell phones these days can record photographs, audio, and video. So it makes good sense, safety-wise, to have a charged cell phone when you leave for your protest. Make charging an imperative if you’re planning on recording. The phones aren’t designed to handle long recording sessions, and your battery will die if your memory doesn’t fill up first.
- Secure your phone: You may also want to see our guide on how to Secure Your Mobile Phone, which has methods of remote locking and wiping your phone in the event that it's seized if you get arrested.
- Keep back-up devices: Bring extra batteries, clean memory cards, and the like with you. If you believe what you record will be confiscated, switch memory cards before the equipment is taken away, if you can.
We put together this guide on how to Communicate if Your Government Shuts Off Your Internet in January when the protests in Egypt broke out. Our government hasn't done this (yet, as far as we know), but there are handy hacks and tips about communication in there that may prove useful to side step noise restriction and amplify the human microphone at the #Occupy protests.
We fully support people's right to protest, but there are things you'll want to avoid doing for your safety and others’. We do not in any way endorse:
- Breaking free if detained: Even though zip tie restraints are easy to break, it is against the law to resist arrest. You'll increase the chances of becoming the victim of violence and getting another charge slapped against you if you are caught. As we said above, remember to keep your cool and call your lawyer when you can.
- Attacking or hindering law enforcement: We’ve seen that the police response can be unproportional to the protest. But there is no time to attack or hinder an officer in his or her duties. Their job is to keep the peace, and if you stop them, then you are breaking the law and could very well inflame the situation.
- Damaging Property: Mob mentality often takes over during protests, and the thrill of destruction can spread through the crowd like a virus. Suddenly it seems an exciting idea to burn a car to express your outrage. Don’t. You’re not hurting the government; you’re hurting someone just like you. Keep property damage down, keep injuries down.
This guide was assembled by Mur Lafferty and Arikia Millikan.
This page was last modified 00:27, 18 October 2011 by howto_admin. Based on work by jyakku.