I was getting ready to participate in a protest yesterday afternoon. I had geared up with water bottles, snacks, gloves, masks, and safety goggles. My partner and I, along with a few friends, met at a centralized location where the protest had already begun.
I followed what people had suggested online and sent my location to a couple of friends so they would know where I was. I also texted my cousin, who lives in another state, to let her know I was going.
She helped us while we were out protesting, even though she was in another state and unable to attend a protest because of a preexisting condition. She took to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to check on constant updates in our city.
It ended up being something extremely helpful, and something that we had no idea we needed. I wanted to share this experience in case other people like my cousin are wanting to protest but are unable to attend one. This is especially helpful to do for your black friends or family members to keep them safe during these protests.
**It should also be noted that some people are advising to turn off your phones while you’re protesting, in case the police have a way of tracking you. This part is up to your discretion and what your comfort level is. If you feel safer having your phone on, then we recommend texting people like we did. IF you don’t feel safe doing that and instead want to leave your phone behind, we recommend writing a contact number on your body with a permanent marker, and memorizing the number of a lawyer.
Here are some of the helpful things my cousin texted…names are blurred out:
Before we left to go to the protest, my cousin had texted with some good reminders and advice on what to bring. She wanted to remind me that it was my responsibility as a white person to protect my partner and our friends who are POC. I really appreciated the reminder and the helpful insight on what to bring. It was also comforting knowing that she was supporting us from afar.
Another helpful thing for people to share is any updates on curfew. Cities are updating their curfews often, some even on a daily basis as a way of keeping tabs on protestors. When you hear of a curfew changing, it is very helpful to share this information with people you know who are protesting, and through your social media platforms. There have been plenty of instances this week where police have forcefully attacked protestors around the time of curfew just because they were still out in the streets.
After we were there for about an hour or so, I got these text updates from my cousin. She had been checking through Facebook and Twitter for live updates. These warnings were really helpful. As she texted us, we noticed the police pulling out gas masks and using the tactic of kettling. Kettling means to direct people in a way that blocks them in to specific streets. The tear gas wasn’t deployed until hours later around the time of curfew. But it was important to be aware of all possibilities in our surroundings.
We didn’t see all of the cops rolling in, but we heard plenty entering the city limits for curfew. Again, this warning was helpful so that we could be aware of these things before they happened.
Having my cousin checking on us from a far was really helpful. I felt more prepared than I had expected. I highly recommend having a friend or family member keep an eye on updates through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Because of the heavy social media presence during these protests, we can really utilize these platforms as tools for safety.
For more resources on how to help and stay safe, you can check out our article here. If you have any other ideas for how to help people protesting, let us know in the comments below!