I’m going to a protest. What do I need to know?

2. Learn how to protest safely

You have the right to protest, but there are legal limits on what you can do while protesting.

Protesting can be risky. You can take steps to protest effectively while also staying safe.

What to do

While at a protest:

  • pay attention to information the organizers share, such as instructions
  • stay alert and be ready to move quickly
  • try to stay close to the other protesters as the police may find it easier to people who are on their own
  • stay on the official route if there’s a march or if the protest is moving
  • have a plan but be ready to change it if you need to
  • cross your hands above your head and shout “Medic” if someone’s injured

What not to do

While at a protest do not:

  • drink alcohol or use illegal drugs
  • leave the protest alone, as at the end of a protest it’s easier for the police to arrest protesters who are alone
  • go onto private property without permission
  • tease or challenge the police
  • wear a mask or disguise yourself, except for health reasons, such as wearing a mask during COVID-19

Be careful who you share information with. During protests, undercover police officers sometimes pretend to be protesters to get information about the protest’s organizers or to find people who are breaking the law.

Civil disobedience

During protests some people may choose to break the law on purpose if they think the law is unfair or unjust. This is sometimes called civil disobedience. But the police are expected to enforce the current law until the government or a court changes it. This means the police can arrest people for crimes such as destroying property or theft. If you plan to engage in civil disobedience or do things that might get you in trouble with the police:

  • understand your rights
  • make plans in case you’re
  • understand that other protesters may not agree and may try to stop you
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