Being heard and standing up for what you believe in can be empowering. It’s a right that is afforded to us in the United States. Gathering with a group of people in public demonstrations and marches shows others they are not alone in how they think, and in what they value.
Coming together in unity to create one voice is important, but we also need to practice protesting safely in or to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Social distancing amid mass turnouts can be virtually impossible. There are, however, a number of preventable steps that can be taken before, during, and after a protest to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting coronavirus and keeping yourself safe throughout the protesting experience. In addition to strategies you can use to prevent coronavirus, there are actions you can take to protect yourself from activity that may be occurring around you which could put you in harms way.
- Consider who is in your household and their health. Do not risk exposing them to coronavirus, especially if they are at higher risk for COVID-19 complications.
- There are other ways to do anti-racist activism besides protesting in the streets. This may look like educating yourself and the people around you, and/or signing electronic petitions.
- Use the buddy system by asking a friend to go with you.
- Let someone you trust know where you are going.
- Items to bring:
- Water (consider bringing bottles with sports caps to help flush eyes if there is exposure to a chemical agent)
- Facial covering/mask
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Hat to protect from the sun and help cover your face
- Dress in long sleeves (or bring an outer layer) and wear pants to protect your skin from chemical agents.
- Wear comfortable, protective shoes.
- Wear your hair up and out of your face.
- Do not wear contact lenses, eye makeup or jewelry.
- Fully charge your phone, and consider bringing an extra battery pack and charger.
- Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Nourish your body with the food you have available to you, stay hydrated and get enough sleep. Reach out to your support system and practice self-care.
- Stay focused and aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Wear a mask and avoid touching your face.
- Stay at least 6 feet apart from others to maintain physical distancing.
- Stay hydrated by frequently drinking water.
- Don’t shake hands, hug, share drinks or engage in long face-to-face conversations.
- Cover your cough, and sneeze into your elbow.
- Turn off Face ID and Touch ID, switch to Airplane Mode and disable data
- Enable a pass code on your phone
- Do not share any images of protesters on social media to protect their identities.
- If your eyes are exposed to any kind of chemical agent:
- Do not rub them; blinking and rinsing are most effective
- Change your clothes as soon as possible, shower and disinfect your belongings.
- Continue to take care of yourself, mentally, physically and emotionally.
- Consider a two-week-self isolation. It is possible to transmit coronavirus without showing any symptoms.
- Do not share any photos of protesters on social media.
These harm-reduction tips were adapted and compiled from lists at NAACP at UT Austin, Frontline Medics, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy