What to Bring to Protest

The first step to joining a protest is to simply show up, but it is also important to be prepared for all situations – from a long day in extreme weather conditions to close contact with others in the midst of a pandemic to possible arrest.

Plan ahead of time what you are going to wear and bring to the protest to protect yourself and others. In general, less is more, but there are a few things that are not negotiable for your safety. Here’s what you need to know before you travel.

What to wear for protest

Comfort is the key to success, especially if you plan to be away for a long time. You also want to blend in with the crowd – don’t wear flashy clothes that stand out or make you easily recognizable in photos. Likewise, cover up tattoos, piercings, and unique physical features.

Wear the following:

  • Layers suitable for the weather . If you go out in winter, wear lightweight items that can be easily removed and put into pockets (including gloves, hats, and scarves). If there is a chance of rain, a clear plastic trash bag can work like a poncho. In summer, choose lightweight clothing, a hat, and sunglasses. Even in warm weather, cover your skin to protect it from sunburn and chemicals (such as tear gas).
  • Nondescript objects in neutral colors . Choose gray instead of neon and avoid anything associated with large logos.
  • Sturdy, comfortable footwear . You will most likely be walking a lot or standing for hours, and you may encounter mud, rain, snow, or rocks along the way. Choose shoes that will withstand all weather conditions and are safe to walk or run in.
  • Mask . Even when we are not at the epicenter of a global pandemic, carry a mask with you in case you fall under tear gas. If you do not have a mask, suit scarf (winter) or bandana – just pay attention to the warnings of the International News Safety Institute against soaking fabrics in water, vinegar or citrus juice; contrary to myth, this will not help (at best) or may exacerbate the effects of the gas (at worst).
  • Glasses . Glasses or shatterproof glasses can protect your eyes from tear gas.
  • Sunscreen
  • Heat resistant gloves
  • Hair ties . Pull long hair back for comfort and safety (hair can be grabbed or pulled in a fight). It’s also a good idea to have extra hair bands to share with others.

What to bring to protest

You will also want to bring some basic health and safety gear with you:

  • Water and snacks . Make sure you continue to feed and drink. Bring a water bottle with a sports top – it can also be used as a syringe to flush eyes or wounds.
  • Cash . Bring enough money in small bills to buy food, taxi fares, or other little things.
  • Your ID . Take your ID with you and keep it on your body, for example, in your shoes or in your pocket.
  • Emergency contact information . Memorize it and write it down on a card or on your hand – both the personal contact and the local legal aid number. If you have a medical ID, put it on.
  • Basic first aid equipment . Carry some bandages, over-the-counter pain relievers, and any important prescription medications you need if you are away longer than expected.
  • Your phone is with location services and biometrics disabled . You can use your smartphone to chat and take photos and videos, but make sure you turn off features that will make it easier for law enforcement to track you or unlock your device.
  • Bag (maybe) . If you can carry all your belongings in your pockets, great. Some protests and gatherings may not allow bags, and some organizers recommend transparent bags. Read the instructions and guidelines before heading out.

What not to take with you

This is probably obvious, but we will still say: do not carry weapons, drugs, valuables and anything that you would not like to lose or with which you would not want to be arrested. Don’t take more than you need with you, as it’s best to be able to move around freely.

Finally, always check with protest organizers on how to prepare and listen to their instructions while you are outside.

Looking for ways to protect black lives? Check out this list of resources .


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