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How to stay safe during a protest

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Protesting is an important way to meet people with similar interests, express your views and fight for what you believe in - but what do you do when things go wrong? 

Protesting can be a way of supporting a cause that you truly believe in as well as having the chance to meet and gain support from others who share the same opinion. However, protests can get dangerous and can be somewhat intimidating if you have never taken part in one before.

Taking a public political stand can always involve some amount of risk, although that may be hard to comprehend considering it might seem as simple as shouting and holding up a sign. Yet the truth is that not everyone will agree with the cause you are protesting, which can lead to conflict - especially if the protest includes another political viewpoint.

There are many ways in which you can stay safe when protesting. Below are our suggestions:

1. Be prepared

 

Make sure you know what type of protest you’re getting into. Research the groups involved, the cause behind the protest and find out who is in charge, as with many protests there will be a person at the top calling the shots.

Make sure you attend any prep meetings, find out the start time of the protest, the meeting point and the route which the protest will follow. By doing this it allows you to stay safe within a group of people in case any conflict does occur. It’s also a good idea to make sure you are not doing anything illegal, so check laws and make sure you have permission to take part in a protest. Doing so will help avoid the possibility of arrest.

However, remember that you have rights, which you should learn so that you can protect yourself from getting into trouble. This is particularly important if you plan on attending protests in a different country, as rules and regulations can be very different.

 

2. Have a buddy

Have someone close to you that you can call in case of an emergency or in case you get hurt or separated from the group. This way you know that someone has your back and can give you peace on the day.

3. Remain calm

Make sure you stay calm throughout the protest. No matter how passionate you may be it’s important to stay in the right frame of mind - don’t put yourself and others at risk.

4. Play it safe

Stay away from any violence! Making creative posters that express your sense of humour can have a way bigger impact. You might even catch the attention of photographer, allowing your message to spread further. 

 

5. Stay vigilant

Make sure you’re aware of what’s going on around you in case things do turn violent. If the situation does escalate get yourself to safety, stay calm and check in with others.

6. Be aware of those around you

Be aware of any needs your fellow protestors may have. Everyone has the right to take part including children, so respect their needs and support them if any trouble does occur. Pay close attention to any police that are present, as their equipment and even their attitudes towards protestors can sometimes be dangerous. This can help you be prepared for any unexpected dangers.

7. Get home safely 

The most important advice is to make sure you make it home safely, so travel back in a group or get someone to pick you up. Protesting can attract the attention of bystanders and it’s not always positive, thus traveling back in a group can avoid any unwanted negative targeting. 

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