These past weeks have seen a huge increase in peaceful protests across the world in response to the continued police brutality that black and brown people face everyday. At time of writing, there are ongoing protests every day in all 50 states across America and I’m preparing to attend the Black Lives Matter protesting Glasgow on Sunday 7th.
To preface this piece: I am white. I am whiter than a polar bear in a snow storm. As such, I feel it’s my duty to use my privilege to raise black voices as much as I can. If you’re joining the movement, it’s important to be prepared.
Here’s some tips from a cosplayer with experience of standing in the middle of huge crowds including some tips to keep protesters safe.
The most important thing – especially right now – is to be safe.
Make sure you wear a facemask to lower your exposure risk. Bring hand sanitizer and gloves to keep your hands clean. With Covid-19 still a huge risk, it’s important to minimise the risk of exposure for you and others!
It’s also a good idea to bring a lil first aid kit! Include a travel bottle of antiseptic, bandages, plasters and any kind of medication you might need (like painkillers, inhalers or anti-anxiety medication). A good tip is to include sanitary towels and tampons in your first aid kit too. Aside from their primary use, they’re – unsurpisingly – good for absorbing blood. If you’re unfortunate enough to get badly injured, placing a sanitary towel on your wound and wrapping a bandage or some fabric against the sticky side will absorb blood a lot cleaner than a bandage is likely to. Keep your kit close to you, but also don’t be shy in offering it to others!
Make sure to not wear any jewelry to prevent injury and be sure to avoid wearing contact lenses or make up – should tear gas be used, the chemicals cling to lenses and make up and make it infinitely harder to wash it out.
It’s also important to think of your comfort. You’ll be standing, walking and – possibly- running all day. Big cosy socks and comfy shoes help so much more than you would think.
While protesting, wear nondescript, solid coloured clothes are best not only to provide a sense of unity with your fellow protesters, but also keeps you safe in case of any police actions.
Make sure to tie your hair back, or wear a headband to keep hair out of the way and out of your eyes.
Keep your information safe.
Wearing a face mask, while keeping you safer during the global pandemic, also keeps your face partially covered to prevent you being identified.
Write any important phone numbers on your arm or legs in markers – your emergency contacts, lawyers, taxis, etc – so that if your phone battery dies you still have the information to hand.
Before attending, turn off your face/touch ID on your phone and instead set up a pin number password – this prevents anyone from accessing your phone just with your face. Turn off your data and put your phone onto airplane mode once you arrive unless absolutely necessary – police often use phone data to build cases against protesters by using their whereabouts.
Bring only what’s necessary
Speaking of your phone, make sure it’s fully charged and it’s best to bring a portable charger with you just in case! There are also temporary portable chargers sold in shops like Poundland that fit most phones and have 8-10 hours charge.
Bring physical money with you for travel to lessen your trackable whereabouts and bring your ID with you if you have it!
Make sure to bring snacks – healthy snacks that can take being squished in your bag as well as some water to keep hydrated!
Speaking of water, mixing up a bottle of 3 teaspoons of baking soda to 250ml of water (in a waterbottle or preferably a spray bottle) is useful in washing out tear gas and halting the reaction.
Wearing an eye mask or goggles prevents any chemicals from reaching your eyes at all as does a wash cloth soaked in water over your mouth/mask!
Remain alert, keep calm.
The most important thing to do, above all else, is to stay alert. Ensure no one is causing trouble. Ensure no one is hurt or in trouble. Look after the people around you, hear what they have to say and let them be heard.
As I said up top, I’m a white person. My place at this protest isn’t to talk, it’s to listen and show solidarity. With reports of previous protests turning violent at the hands of white people taking advantage of the situations or the police – my job is to protect the people sharing their experience, and using my privilege to keep the situation as calm as possible.
Obviously, not everyone will be able to attend the Glasgow protest, or any protest at all but there are still loads of options to support Black Lives Matter without attending in person.
You can donate to any of the many organisation dedicated to protecting or helping black lives or if you aren’t able to donate, you can sign some some of the many petitions still unfulfilled – many of which can be found at https://blacklivesmatter.carrd.co/
Here’s a quick fire round-up of everything you need to remember before heading out:
- Wear comfy shoes
- Wear non-descript loose fitting clothes
- Eye mask or googles
- Make sure not to wear make-up, contact lenses or jewlery
- Tie hair back
- Hand sanitizer/gloves
- First aid kit – bandages, plasters, gloves, anti-septic, medication, sanitary towels
- Money and ID
- Food and water
- Eye wash – 3 teaspoons of baking soda to 250ml of water in either a water bottle or a spray bottle
- Write important phone numbers on your person – emergency contact numbers, numbers of lawyers or of taxi/travel numbers
- Portable charger or one use chargers
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/