1.) Hydrate prior to the event for 2 days or more if you can. This means not just water but salts as found in hydration drinks. The wonderful drinks that can help are teas and lemon/citrus water. Eat plenty of leafy greens, protein and balanced, healthy meals for a few days (again if you can) pre-protest to avoid aching and cramping the next day.
2.) Address comfort. Dress for moving and walking long distance. This mean comfortable shoes, comfortable but not loose clothing. Be aware that you may be followed so an extra change of clothing, especially a shirt may be added to your bag for medics and NLG reps. Dress in layers that can easily be put on or taken off during a march or other direct actions.
3.) Bring a friend! It can be very dangerous to “go it alone” as sometimes events can go into the night in areas far from where the march started. Not only will there be help for you in case of emergency, having a buddy makes you less likely to be targeted post-protest. If you are a medic stay in the middle of the crowd and scan the edges for people tiring or needing attention, this perspective allows you to get to everyone when they need you. DO NOT put yourself on the edges or in direct contact with opposition, as you may be targeted for removal or detained.
4.) Bring layers- going to a protest is a commitment of at least 4 hours. Temperature even in California can wane over this time. Prepare by having layers as your body temperature may rise while marching but fall during sit-in demonstrations.
5.) Medications that are essential must be brought- for best practices they should be put into zip-loc bags to prevent getting wet in case of water use by authorities breaking up a protest. Keeping in mind worst case scenarios is essential to survival.
6.) DO NOT WEAR CONTACTS. Always expect chemical weapons as they have been quite the favorite to disperse crowds as of late. Wear glasses and bring goggles. Chemical splash goggles will only help if you a) Close the vents and B) Use them short term as they fog quickly. Swimming goggles are best and can be obtained with prescription lenses.
7.) Remain calm. There are sometimes outbursts of unnecessary running which can lead to trampling and injury. If this happens, move quickly WITH the group but do not run in case there is tear gas. Tear gas will do more damage if breathed in deeply.
8.) Carry vinegar / lemon juice soaked bandanas in sealable plastic bags – effective for short periods against breathing CS gas, or a small bottle of lemon juice / vinegar to apply at scene. We recommend apple cider vinegar – it is not pleasant to breathe malt vinegar.
9.) BE AWARE- always pay attention to your surroundings to prevent unpleasant surprises! Taking selfies and otherwise ignoring the activities around you is a quick way to get hurt. Be careful out there- watch out for your friends and yourself.
10) When the tough gets going- MEDITATE. Elevate your energy and step away from situations which cause anger/frustration. Especially people who are not participating with full conviction in the protest (they call these agent provocateurs). When in doubt or when your energy falls- meditate and calm your mind.
Green and Black Cross
ACLU Legalities of Protesting
About the author:
Dr. Brande M. Cross, PhD is an avid human rights activist with 20 years of protest and street medic experience. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with a PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and as a recipient of the Thomas J. Kelly Award, AAAS and many other scholarly recognitions. She specializes in the clinical outcomes of non-psychotropic, cannabinoid induced mechanisms attenuate calcium signaling /transport in the human body.