While most protests being held, at outset, are peaceful, things can get ugly real quick. Hence, it is essential for you to keep a few things in mind to ensure your own and other's safety when protesting.
Here are some simple tips to remember before and during a protest.
Plan Ahead Of Protests
Plan in advance, think about the supplies, transport, and people you shall take. Keep your phone charged and carry power banks if necessary.
Make space on your device to document and save evidence of what goes down at protests- agitators and instigators, and in the case of any police brutality, violence, or injuries.
Take as much water as you can without weighing you down. In addition, pack energy snacks that are easy to eat and store during protests. Also, make sure you enough money to get there, buy essentials, and make calls.
If you need any medication, inhalers, EpiPens, or insulin, keep a few days' worths supply. Moreover, use menstrual pads instead of tampons; if stuck somewhere during or after the protests, you may not be able to change easily.
Dress For Convenience
Since you may need to run, defend yourself, or be in crowds, wear clothing keeping all this in mind.
Choose comfortable, sturdy shoes over sandals or heels. Wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible to avoid wounds, tear gas, pepper spray, or sun exposure.
Apart from this, pack a change of clothes in case your current set is soiled or contaminated. Furthermore, A hat and a bandana/handkerchief soaked in water can help reduce irritation from tear gas or other chemicals.
What Not To Do During Protests
Remember that the protests are a statement and expression at the outset, not a riot or an exercise of violence or rage. Avoid aggressive reactions, but do not be afraid to defend yourself if needed.
Don't go empty-stomached or thirsty. Protests are tiring and often lengthy, make sure you're prepared for it. If you're especially drained or unwell, do not force yourself to continue- taking care of yourself is still essential.
Try not to go alone, accompany friends or people you're familiar with. If you do go alone, let someone you trust know about your whereabouts and update them as and when possible.
Avoid vaseline, oil-based sunscreens or moisturisers. These will trap chemicals like tear gas. Also, choose glasses over contact lenses, as the latter will also trap chemicals and cause irritation.
If tear gas is used to curb the protests, try to stay calm and not panic. Breathe slowly, as it will disperse eventually. Avoid swallowing, and do not rub your eyes as it will only increase the irritation caused.
Know Your Rights
Peacefully participating in protests is a fundamental right in a democracy, unless section 144 has been imposed. You cannot be detained for simply gathering and voicing your opinion in normal circumstances.
In the case of arrests, you have a right to know the grounds on which you have been detained. Furthermore, you should also be able to promptly contact your family as well as a lawyer. You also have a right to immediate medical assistance in the case of injury.
If any of these rights are violated, you can lodge a legal complaint about the violation of these rights.
Stay safe, alert, focused; and most importantly, stay aware.