SECURITY DURING PROTESTS
- Plan ahead: For essential needs, care and supplies. Know what to expect. Know how to get assistance. Plan for how to re-contact your buddies if separated.
- Check what you bring: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Do not take things you won’t need and avoid bringing anything that could put you or those around you in danger or give the police an excuse to detain you on suspicion of intent to commit a crime. Bring your water bottle, a hat, a scarf or a cloth (that can be used in an emergency).
- Know your rights: There are a number of rights that you exercise when taking part in protests. But rules and regulations on protest vary from country to country so make sure you find out what they are and how existing restrictions might affect your participation in a particular protest.
- Take care of each other: The streets belong to everyone, and children, older people and people with disabilities have an equal right to take part. Everyone deserves your support and respect.
- Pay careful attention to the police presence: Be aware of their manoeuvres, their equipment and their attitudes. This will help you anticipate any possible dangers and avoid surprises if things get difficult. Remember In some countries, certain police officers wear civilian clothes. This is sometimes done so they can merge with protesters without being distinguishable.
- Filming: for information about filming see: https://library.witness.org/product/filming-protests-demonstrations-police-conduct/
- It is safer to leave the protest in groups, as this is often the time when arbitrary arrests take place. Make sure someone knows when you leave and when you are safely home.
- Make sure there are safe routes to leave the protest. Sometimes protests entail roadblocks and public transport might be not available.
- It is important to be able to communicate safely before, during and after the protest. Use password managers such as LastPass to protect your accounts. If you have a smartphone, consider using secure SMS apps such as Signal or Wire or Telegram.
IF THINGS GO WRONG:
- Move away from the affected area immediately.
- How to deal with tear gas: STAY CALM. Panicking increases the irritation. Breathe slowly and remember it is only temporary, Blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough & spit. Try not to swallow, DO NOT RUB IT IN, Research and carry a soothing liquid. Be careful if you have a medical condition
- Have phone numbers of emergency contacts with you such as lawyers ready to assist in case of arrest. Do not rely on storing the numbers in your phone as you may lose it or have it taken away. Memorize or potentially write it on your arm.
We have developed a 2-page resource for striking safely with help from WITNESS . The Resource includes tips on filming protests, demonstrations and police conduct, using a gendered lens for video production, and ethical guidelines for using human rights video.