I have been informed that a number of you all were asking if we could repost my suggestions for staying safe while protesting. Watergirl was good enough to proactively go and dig at least one of the versions/reposts of the original post from December 2018. We’ll resume our war updates tomorrow night.
I’ve made an addition or two to the original list, but if you’ve decided you need to go to a march or a rally, the list below is for you.
I want to remind everyone that we’ve seen a number of acts of violence, by both domestic right wing extremists like the Proud Boys or Patriot Front and from law enforcement, directed at people attending both Pride events and marches and rallies in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs. We have also seen at least one individual decide to drive around oncoming traffic in an attempt to murder marchers by driving over them in his truck. Given that a number of states have passed laws allowing drivers to treat marchers and rally goers in the street as threats and because they’re threats drive over them, please check your state laws to see whether that might be something you need to worry about.
(Originally posted on 18 December 2016)
Congress shall make no law… abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. — Amendment 1, Bill of Rights, US Constitution
One of our readers/commenters emailed me about a week ago and asked if I would put up a post about personal security for those going to peaceably assemble to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. I put a list together and ran it past a select group of our Balloon Juice legal eagles (those I’ve corresponded with before/have corresponded with me, so if you didn’t get asked, don’t be insulted I didn’t want to just impose on you with a cold request) – thank you all for getting back to me. Here’s my list of what I think anyone going to peacefully assemble should do to enhance their personal security.
- Go with a buddy, that way you have at least one person looking out for you/watching your back and vice versa.
- Carry cash and make sure to carry a valid picture ID!
- Bring a pocket flashlight.
- Get and wear a go pro that is automatically updating to the cloud.
- Bring a pocket charger for your cell phone and go pro regardless of whether it is supposed to be a long day.
- I you’re bringing them with you, make sure your personal electronic devices – phones, tablets, and wearables like smart watches – all have sufficient password protection and encryption on them. And have them set to upload to the cloud at a regular interval.
- Turn off fingerprint, face, or other biometric access to unlock your phone and delete your finger prints, face scans, and/or other biometris from the memory. Some jurisdictions allow law enforcement to compel you to unlock your phone if it has finger print or face scan based access. Or get a disposable phone just for this occasion.
- Turn off your phone and other personal electronic devices option to connect to known WiFi as it can be used as a way to fail your encryption. Also, turn off the GPS locators and tracking on them as well!
- Bring a bandana or neck gaiter and water so you can make a make shift gas mask in case things get out of hand and tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
- Bring a couple of bottles of saline eye rinse in case you need to rinse your eyes out if tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
- Bring plenty of water and some snacks to make sure you’re properly hydrated and you’ve got enough fuel in your system to get through the day.
- Dress in layers so you are prepared for the weather and make sure you have good shoes/boots and a change of socks in case they should get wet. A set of silk base layer undersocks is a good idea regardless of the weather. They’ll help keep your feet warm or cool as needed and they’ll provide some protection in case your shoes/boots and socks get wet. And something to keep the back of your neck and your ears warm if you’re going to be someplace cold.
- Bring/wear a hat to keep the sun off your head or to keep it warm depending on the weather.
- Bring/wear eye protection. Specifically sunglasses that are impact rated. (You should be able to pick up military surplus ones pretty cheap).
- Sunscreen, skin moisturizer, and lip balm. Even if its cold you’ll need these.
- If you need to take regular/routine prescription medication: bring it in its original container, with the prescription details on the label. If its a gel based application and comes in a packet, make sure you’ve got a hard copy of the prescription with you.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You don’t have to be paranoid, but have a sufficient level of situational awareness. If something looks and/or feels hinky or the hair on the back of your neck stands up, head on home or go get a drink and something or go back to your hotel. Know who and what is around you, keep your valuables in front pockets or in secure/securable purses/bags, and keep those where they can’t be easily snatched or accessed.
- Have a contact plan for both linking up and communicating in case one gets separated from anyone you’re with.
- Have a contact plan to stay in touch with someone who isn’t at the march, but knows that you’re there and a regular set of contact times.
- Have a lawyer you can contact if necessary and that your outside contact could contact if you don’t check in. Make sure you have all of your contact’s phone numbers memorized in case your phone is damaged or taken by law enforcement should the worst happen and you’re arrested. Write them on your arm in sharpie if you want double redundancy.
- Bring a sharpie to take down badge numbers if necessary. And if necessary write them on your hand.
- This is a new one: Put together a first aid kit and buy a velcro attaching red cross patch to place on it. The minimum basics should be: saline solution, at least two tourniquets, at least two Israeli bandages, and quick clot – both the gauze pads and the granule applicator system – in addition to the basics like band aids, regular gauze, both cloth coaches tape and paper tape, antibac gel, anti-burn/sunburn spray or gel, anti-itch gel, etc. We have unfortunately reached the point where everyone should have tourniquets and quickclot with them all the time.
Should the worst happen and you get caught up in a peaceable assembly that suddenly turns not so peaceable or that law enforcement decides to declare an unlawful assembly so they can brake things up:
- Do not resist law enforcement. Just do what they say, let your arms go limp, and do what you can to avoid a reflex response to resist – that can get you charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.
- Be respectful and polite when dealing with the authorities – law enforcement, the National Park Service, whoever.
- If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer and then shut up. Do not say anything else or answer any other questions until your lawyer arrives. In fact let the lawyer do the talking.
- And make sure you have the name and phone number of the attorney you want, if you have a preference, ready to go. Memorize it and write it on your arm in sharpie!
One last item: some of you probably carry a pocket knife or multi-tool everywhere. Or everywhere that you’re normally allowed. I would recommend not carrying anything on your possession that could be construed as a concealed weapon or even an openly carried one. Even if you’re in a state/jurisdiction that allows for concealed or open carry of knives and/or other weapons – don’t. Being part of a march or peaceful assembly that turns ugly is not a good time to attempt firearms (or knife) normalization.