Act detail 03

4.3 Protests: Consider What to Bring

It's important to think critically about what you bring with you to the protest. What you have on your person can both be extremely useful in preventing or responding to attacks or accidents, or used as a pretext to harass you. You should consider what to bring only once you've carried out your context and risk analysis. Coordinate with your affinity group to spread out resources according to each person's responsibility.

While each situation is unique, the following illustrative list may be useful:

Don't bring

  • Electronic devices without considering what's on them first. Is there sensitive information stored there? Remember also that your mobile phone can be used to track your location and this has been used to identify and harass peaceful protesters in the past.1
  • Anything that might get you into trouble: anything that could be considered a weapon, or any illegal drugs or alcohol.

Do bring:

  • Any special medication you need.
  • Some cash, in case of emergency.
  • Comfortable clothing that allows you to move easily.
  • If you're bringing a phone, consider getting a new SIM card and new 'burner' phone. Remember to top-up your airtime credit in advance and bring a spare battery.
  • Emergency contacts: consider writing the most important ones on your arm or leg.
  • First aid and hygiene: a first aid kit, toilet roll and sanitary towels.
  • Food and water: bring high-energy food to eat and water both for drinking and washing wounds in emergencies. Bring enough supplies to last longer than the planned duration of your protest in case something changes.
  • Bring swimming goggles and a bandana or scarf in case tear gas is used, and some antacid solution for treating burns caused by it.
  • Consider bringing a camera for documenting abuses.
  • In some countries, not carrying ID could be a pretext for arrest, however in others, there is no obligation to carry it and it may even be used against you. Coordinate with your affinity group on whether to bring ID and if so, what kind.

Prepare for being searched

It's a common practice in many contexts for authorities to stop and search protesters, in order to prevent weapons or other illegal items such as alcohol or drugs being brought to the protest. However, this is also often used as a pretext for the intimidation or sexual harassment of protesters.

It's likely that there are well-established codes of practice governing how police can search you. Consult a lawyer and know the legal restraints that the police face around this, and what the practiced realities are in each situation. Prepare and practice any verbal resistance to a search (if it is possible to resist under certain circumstances) and ensure that you don't carry anything illegal with you. Let your affinity group know if you encounter this situation so that everyone can be alert.