The tragic string of recently publicized deaths by police brutality have, once again, brought the United States to the brink of a revolution. And whilst sadly not a new issue by any means, the shocking murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have ignited protests across the country, and around the world; most of which have been largely peaceful, and in the context of centuries of violence against black men and women, might even be considered mild.
Many social media users have subsequently taken to their feeds to document official and unofficial police responses to the uprising, with significant numbers of protestors being tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and assaulted by police.
As such, it is important now more than ever to stand with the black community, to amplify their voices and struggle. On top of the dangers outlined above, however, the coronavirus pandemic poses new challenges to collective protest. . Here is some advice for anyone wanting to safely and conscientiously join the fight:
1. Wear a mask and bring hand sanitizer. These are necessary precautions against COVID-19, as protests will leave you mostly unable to socially distance. Use sanitizer often and especially if you come into physical contact with others. Your mask may also come in handy if tear gas is deployed. You can even purchase a Black Lives Matter mask here.
2. Wear some form of eye protection. As mentioned earlier, law enforcement have been using rubber bullets and tear gas, which have sadly led to several protestors permanently losing their sight. While the kind of eyewear that will protect you from rubber bullets are on the pricey side, any goggles will help in the event that tear gas or pepper spray is used.
3. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Protests can last for hours and the increasing temperatures accompanied by the physical exhaustion that will come with walking and raising your voice for several hours will leave your body and mind tired. It’s important to keep sustenance nearby to give your body the nutrition it needs to protest to your fullest ability. This is especially important due to the number of stores in and around protest routes that will have been closed due to COVID-19 and/or the protest itself.
4. Bring a list of emergency contact numbers and your ID. Whether you write them down on your arm or on a slip of paper that you can keep in your pocket, make sure you write down your personal emergency contacts (parents, spouse or close friend.) as well as numbers for your local emergency legal counsel, and keep them directly on your person. If you are in a group of protesters that are arrested, you will need these in case you aren’t given access to your belongings.
5. Lastly, wear comfortable clothes and a compact bag to hold your belongings. Carrying a ton of unnecessary things will weigh you down. Therefore, keep it to essentials and pack as light as possible. That being said, do bring protest signs! Use some leftover cardboard from your last online order and get creative to deliver a powerful message.
These are just some of the essentials that will come in handy when out protesting for Black Lives Matter, but experienced protesters have shared tips and advice on their social media that are helpful too. Stay safe and alert and remember to continue sharing resources with your followers for those that aren’t able to protest in person.