We are dealing with two public health emergencies: COVID-19 and Racism.
If you want to join the fight for Black lives and against racism by participating in any of the protests, demonstrations and marches happening in New York City, please try to minimize your risk for COVID-19. Different people have different risk factors and risk isn’t equal. Consider YOUR risk (this might include one’s immigration status) and when considering joining a protest, it’s important to try to be as prepared as possible for a wide variety of possibilities—even if only some of them occur at any one demonstration.
This list is not exhaustive, but it was compiled from a variety of sources including several coalitions and Callen-Lorde staff from Nursing, Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Care Coordination, Occupational Health and more. Check out this official document from the NYC DOHMH.
We’ve also compiled some actions you can take if protesting is not your thing or if you are unable to protest at this time. You can still show up for social justice!
BEST PRACTICES include bringing:
- Your Photo ID.
- 2 bottles of water (one for drinking, one for washing tear gas out of eyes—don’t rub your eyes if you get tear gassed!), and hand sanitizer and band-aids; please don’t carry milk; it’s summer, milk will spoil, and milk isn’t recommended for tear gas, anyway. IF YOU CAN, bring a bottle of water with a tiny bit of baby shampoo added – the shampoo-water will be more effective for washing out oils in the spray compounds.
- Snacks and hand sanitizer to use when cleaning your hands before you eat or share snacks; snack suggestions: bananas, hard-boiled eggs, and granola bars.
- A sign—with messages on both sides! You never know from which direction photos will be taken.
- DON’T WEAR contact lenses or open-toed sandals
- DON’T BRING anything you’d be sad to lose and NEVER bring contraband such as drugs, knives, weapons.
- Beginnings of demonstrations are usually safer than the end! Demonstrations and protests can sometimes be very long. Your judgment gets worse the more tired you get. It’s okay to leave when you get tired or if you get concerned about the police.
- DESIGNATE a friend who is not going to the protest, who you’ll contact after the action to let them know that you are safe and okay. If this person doesn’t hear from you, they need to be prepared to reach out to authorities, police precincts, and hospitals to locate you and figure out if you need support and resources.
- WRITE YOUR EMERGENCY CONTACT with a sharpie on your arms or hands in case your phone gets confiscated. These emergency contacts should include a loved one, pro bono lawyer, and access to bail fund. Here are a few specific numbers you can include:
- National Lawyers Guild: 206-658-7963
- 1-833-3-GOODCALL (1-833-346-6322): (a system that allows you to set up an emergency contact number so that volunteers will let your emergency contact know where you are and help you get connected to pro bono attorneys)
- KEEP AN EYE ON THE COPS. Their behavior can let you know if they are ready to move in on people to make arrests or attack.
- How To Spot An Undercover Cop- you can usually see their bullet proof vest under their clothing, may be wearing an arm band (so other cops can identify them), will have handcuffs in their back pocket, have a different energy and demeanor than the rest of the crowd, often wearing boots.
- Be loud, be fierce. Don’t let yourself get provoked!
HARM REDUCTION TIPS FOR PROTESTING IN A PANDEMIC:
- DO wear a mask or face covering and bring eye protection such as goggles; if you have them or can buy them, heat resistant gloves are good for removing tear gas canisters shot by police.
- CONSIDER joining a protest along with people you know and who have similar ideas about mask hygiene as you to keep your unknown contacts low—even while understanding that asymptomatic spread is definitely a thing; in advance, pick a spot to connect if you get separated, and/or decide on a time to check in with each other later to make sure everyone has gotten home okay.
- AT A RALLY, try to stand apart from others, but don’t get too freaked out if this isn’t happening when you’re standing around; it will probably be easier to distance yourself from others if/when you’re marching.
- BONUS TIP: When you are in the street the police have more of a “right” to arrest you but not as much if you are on the sidewalk, so if things start to escalate your safest bet is to move to the sidewalk out of the street, or to march alongside the protest on the sidewalk
- YELLING with a mask may feel muffled, but without a mask/face covering your yelling can spread droplets. To make noise without yelling, consider using a drum or a similar noise-maker.
- DISABLE your cell phone Face/Touch ID functions; you can be compelled by police to put your thumb on your phone to open it, but police cannot compel you to use your numerical passcode.
- BIG CROWDS can reduce phone connectivity; phone-dependency takes you out of the moment, try to stay grounded and aware of your surroundings—with your eyes on the police. Police can telegraph their attitude and behavior, which can help you decide if you and friends should begin to leave.
- PHOTOS AND VIDEOS are a double-edged sword; if your phone is seized, what you’ve documented can be used against other activists.
AFTER THE PROTEST
The Crime Victims Treatment Center is offering free check ins by phone for protesters and the possibility for ongoing therapy.
There is also a free group for QTBIPOC at The Institute for Human Identity (LGBTQ therapy institute) You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to the group or individual therapy services
ALTERNATIVES TO PROTESTING
Perhaps public protesting is not your thing. Or perhaps you are physically or emotionally unable to participate in public protesting currently. Here are some ideas for both engaging your well-being during this stressful time and standing up for social justice in other ways:
- BREATHING! It is your duty to make sure your breath is flowing. Breathing helps with circulation to the body & brain which can promote your health! Breath is life. We send depression, worry, nervousness and anxiety away.
- CHECK-IN! Many of us are angry and grieving and still trying to figure out what healing looks like in this moment. Call your people and see how they are doing and/or reach out to folks and let us know how you are doing! Emotions are high right now. That also includes Black and Brown folks who are social workers, clergy, therapists, nurse, doctors etc. Your well-being is also essential.
- PRAYER & MEDITATION
- ANCESTRAL PRACTICES
- DONATE MONEY to anti-racist organizations and commit to supporting Black-owned businesses on the regular.
- DONATE food, water, rides home, bail funds, etc
- SUPPORT PROTESTERS by offering water, snacks, rides, and/or masks, and by donating to bail funds.
- SELF CARE Preserve your energy so that you can be recharge! Unplug! Not everything needs to be shared
- PRACTICING AWARENESS Be aware of what you are ingesting into your mind, body, and consciousness. This can be food that isn’t serving you.
- COMPLETE THE CENSUS
- VOTE and ENCOURAGE OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE TO VOTE
- SIGN PETITIONS for causes you believe in. Here are a few petitions to get started.
Do No Harm Coalition’s video for street medic training. This can be useful for any clinicians wanting to help out during the protests or during jail care.