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Whether you’re looking to attend, watch, or donate to the Black Lives Matter protests happening right now, there’s a lot of information out there to consume.
For protestors, it’s important to show up prepared and educated. Researching what you’re standing up for before you go, especially if you’re a white ally, is crucial because it’s not anyone’s job to educate you on what is going on. That research is just as important when it comes to viewing the protests.
If you’re unable to attend protests, there are some very informative live streams happening at the protests, from local news organizations to everyday citizens. Participation can also mean contributing financially, so we’ve rounded up a few resources for that as well. This list will be updated, so if you have recommendations on organizations to watch, donate to, or protest with, you can reach out to us at [email protected]
How to protest safely
While you won’t be able to control the actions of the police, there are plenty of steps you can take to be prepared. Supplies are going to be necessary if you’re spending the day exercising your first amendment rights.
While there is often water, snacks, and other supplies available, you should always bring your own whenever possible. Most of the items you’ll need to participate safely are likely already lying around your house.
A bag or backpack: My go-to protest bag is a Rick Steve’s travel backpack I got in high school, but anything compact and lightweight will do the trick. As long as you have room for some essential items, you’ll be fine. In close quarters and hot temperatures, you won’t want anything to bulky, I promise.
Water: Having H2O on hand is always a good rule to live by, especially as we move into hotter summer temperatures. In addition to hydration, there’s a chance you’ll need water to clean your skin or flush your eyes after being hit by chemical gas or pepper spray.
Hand sanitizer: You may not have many opportunities to wash your hands throughout the day, so bringing your own hand sanitizer is crucial. In addition to regularly cleaning your hands, avoid touching your face as much as possible.
A face mask or bandana: Facemasks have so many benefits right now that it would be a mistake to head to a protest without one. First of all, there’s still a pandemic happening that’s disproportionately affecting black communities, so doing everything you can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is a must. The masks and bandanas will also help lessen the impacts of pepper spray and chemical gas. Bringing extra masks to change throughout the day is encouraged.
Eye protection: If you have goggles, those are really your best bet against protecting your eyes from chemical agents and pepper sprays. If you don’t have a pair at home, regular glasses or sunglasses are better than nothing. If you typically wear contacts, you should definitely consider swapping to your glasses on protest days. Pepper spray + contacts = very irritated eyes.
Snacks: One thing you should definitely leave space in your bag for are some snacks. Energy bars, nuts, and trail mix are all great options for nutritious snacks while you’re pounding the pavement.
Protest signs: If you’d like to carry a sign, you should make one and bring it with you. When you’re done protesting, don’t leave it on the ground for others to clean up. Treat the protest like you would any environmentally-friendly event and take whatever you bring back home with you if possible.
Appropriate shoes: Do not show up to a protest in flip flops. Close-toed shoes that are comfortable will go a very long way in your ability to be on your feet for long hours and keep your toes safe(ish) during the protest.
Your phone: It’s understandable that you’d want to bring your phone with you to a protest, but there are some considerations you should take into account. If you have FaceID or fingerprint unlock features, you may want to switch to a passcode instead. This will prevent your phone from being searched without your consent. Documenting police activity during a protest is encouraged, but don’t use your phone to take selfies or photos/videos of other protesters without their permission.
Cash: Instead of worrying about your credit cards while protesting, just take cash. You can put some in your bag, and some in your wallet and spend it as you need it for supplies. It also makes contributing to group supplies a little simpler.
In addition to all of those items, you may want to consider bringing a small first aid kit, extra hair ties, earplugs, saline solution, and a copy of emergency phone numbers. This isn’t a safety tip, but it needs to be said: Always make sure that you’re working to amplify black voices at the protests. If you’re white, listen to what black leaders and organizers are saying. Follow their lead and support them.
How to watch protests if you can’t participate
Whether you have pre-existing health conditions that keep you from protests or you’ve chosen to use your voice in a different way, you’re probably still curious about what’s happening on the ground. If you’ve been searching for coverage of the protests, in particular live streams, we’ve got a few suggestions.
Matter News is an incredible local, non-profit media organization that we are fortunate to be partnered with that has been offering live coverage of the daily protests. Their reporters follow along right in the thick of the protests, offering informative commentary, interviews with participants, and a direct view of the front lines.
You can check out Matter’s live streams and IGTV videos on their Instagram.
Columbus resident and photographer Timothy Brown began streaming the protests live on Facebook last week, but after the social media network blocked his account, he has taken his live streams to Twitch. You can watch through his past footage, as well as subscribe for notifications to see his upcoming videos here. Brown’s live streams have gained thousands of views over the course of the week, both on Facebook and Twitch.
On Twitter, searching #columbusprotest at any given moment will pull up a variety of live stream options as well as accounts live-tweeting the protests. It’s 2020 and it should probably go without saying that on Twitter, you can and should be prepared to see and hear just about anything. The hashtag is pretty comprehensive though and if there’s a protest going on, there’s a very good chance that a live stream is available through that hashtag.
How to support the movement financially
There are many ways that you can support organizations that are fighting systemic racism on a local, state, and federal level. We’ve gathered a list here that we’re hoping to expand, so if you have any suggestions of where people can make donations, please contact us at [email protected]
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