Tips for Protesting Peacefully and Safely

by Brandon Hooks

Every person has the right to protest against the injustices marginalized groups face every day, so we've compiled tips for protesting safely and peacefully.

Every person has the right to protest against the injustices marginalized groups face every day. As thousands across the country and around the world speak up about the systemic racism, violence and police brutality Black people encounter, we want to help people protest peacefully and safely. When protesting, consider the following tips. You can also download an HRC protest sign here

Be prepared before you go.

  • Stay hydrated and dress for expected weather.
  • Bring any needed medication, water, face masks and supplies.
  • Take supplies to protect yourself from and safely remove chemical irritants (face covering, milk of magnesia, towelettes).
  • Bring some cash and coins in case you need to use a payphone.
  • Fully charge your cell phone and bring a battery extender if possible.
  • Let at least one emergency contact know your plan and make arrangements to keep them posted on your status and safety both during and after the event. Consider things like:
    • Where will you be?
    • How will you get there?
    • Where do you intend to go in an emergency?
    • What time do you intend to get back?

Protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Bring and use hand sanitizer.
  • Evaluate the safest way to travel to the site.

Have a solid understanding of the environment.

  • Know the local terrain. Download a map of the venue and surrounding areas. Remember that in some cases, cell service may be limited.
  • Know the multiple routes into and out of the protest area.
  • Know where the nearest fire stations and hospital emergency rooms are. Save their addresses and phone numbers in your phone.
  • Try to remain with your designated group at all times. Have several rally points where you will meet others in the event of an emergency.

Follow these simple and effective security best practices:

  • Maintain 360o “situational awareness” at all times.  Know what is going on around you, above you and below you.
  • Be alert to suspicious persons, packages, activity and vehicles.
  • Stay away from unattended bags, backpacks, boxes or other packages.
  • Stay away from public containers such as trash cans, dumpsters, mailboxes and newspaper stands.

Know the difference between “cover” and “concealment”:

  • Cover: something that will stop a bullet (i.e. heavy concrete wall or flower bed, car or truck, ditch, a building).
  • Concealment: something that would prevent an assailant from observing you (i.e. bushes, shrubs, signage, banners, etc.).
  • Be prepared to move quickly to “cover” if gunfire erupts.
    • Get low – then go to cover. Move at right angles to trajectory if possible.
    • If you can’t find cover, move to concealment until you can safely leave.

In the event chemical agents are dispersed.

  • Know which way the wind is blowing. If chemical agents are dispersed, quickly move up-wind if possible.
  • Cover your face with masks/protective materials.

If an explosion occurs:

  • Get out quickly via the safest and fastest route.
  • Go to the pre-designated rally point and account for your team.
  • Assume that a “secondary” device may have been planted nearby – BE ALERT, MOVE QUICKLY, DELIBERATELY AND SAFELY.                                            

 Additional resources for peaceful protests: