Protesting During The Pandemic
How to stay safe, know your rights and support the #blacklivesmatter movement.
With the recent murder of George Floyd, protests have erupted all over the world in support of the black lives matter movement. And whilst it is so important to spread the message, show your solidarity, and fight for rights, it’s also important to remember that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, and there are some key ways to protect yourself while you’re protecting others.
You may be transforming from lockdown in a teeny flat, to crowds of hundreds on the streets, and you may feel anxious at the thought of being unprepared and the risk of infection. And while the second wave that may come cannot be blamed on the protests, it’s vital you ensure your own safety by taking some precautions.
Whilst it seems like society hasn’t changed so much over the last few decades, activism certainly has. More and more people are using social media (celebrities and even Barack Obama included) to share their voices, and although there have been pros and cons to #BlackOutTuesday, the solidarity is definitely present.
There is so much information online, regarding sharing educational information and resources, helping you help yourself in becoming aware of the issues and oppression in our society. Sign petitions, share book recommendations, donate to organisations if you can. There are now, thanks to social media, more than ever ways to get involved and show your solidarity. So, if you don’t feel ready to be on the streets, there is still so much more you can do from the confines of your home.
But, if you do think protesting through your city is where you want to be, here are some ways to protect yourself and protest safely during this unprecedented pandemic:
Be sure to wear protective gloves, face masks, and use hand gel. (These are the pretty basic rules most have been following when venturing outside anyway.) However, know your rights to remove these too. In some countries (the UK for example) you can be arrested during stop and searches if you refuse to remove your mask. Also, make sure you’re disposing of these in safe, eco-friendly ways.
No-one plans to be arrested, but either memorise or write on you a solicitor’s number or contact number, just in case. (You never know what might happen, and it always better to be safe than sorry.) You never have to provide personal details or reveal information you feel uncomfortable to do so. Remember your ‘no comment’ right.
All images of guidance taken from @vidz_n (Twitter), who has also created an informed guidance document on protesting in the UK: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1j3nIKwHGL2ShdOwGvkyVOhQ9jj7pnB7jCU2iv43Jf1Q/edit?usp=sharing
Social distancing may seem difficult, and it may seem like you have to prioritise the movement over the pandemic in the midst of these protests. However, remember there are always steps to protect yourself, it may just require a little research beforehand. At the end of the day, stay home to protect yourselves and to protect others. Although in the cases of unarmed black people being killed in their own homes (Breonna Taylor and Aiyana Stanley-Jones, only two of the victims in cases like these), maybe we’re not all safe and protected at home.
Next up, Why #BlackOutTuesday Is Regressive