Learn more about protesting and organizing Learn about deadly force and police accountability.

Everyone has the right to assemble and to peacefully protest. For years, activists have been calling for equality for Black lives and Black communities and broad reforms in our policing and criminal justice systems. From activists organizing in Ferguson to leaders like Colin Kaepernick showing their solidarity, calls for change have been resonating louder and louder with each life lost.

Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. George Floyd. Too many names.

Black people, already uncertain about their safety and future in this country, and peaceful protestors face more militarized policing as they raise their voices in protest.

It’s more vital than ever to bring our communities and people together: take action and know your human rights to protest. Your action can bring hope and create lasting change. Everyone has a role in creating a world in which one person’s life matters just as much as the next person’s, no matter the color of their skin, their immigration status, their gender identity, or their religion.

If any of your rights are violated, you have a right to file a complaint and to be provided information on how to do so. Any and all violations of human rights by the police or other authorities must be investigated fully, promptly and independently.

Resources

    • There are a number of actions a person can take before heading to a protest and while they are engaging in protest activities to keep themselves safe, regardless of how the situation may be escalated by the authorities.
    • Before heading to a protest, be mindful of the clothing and accessories you wear. Be sure to wear clothing that covers all your skin – this will protect you not only from the sun and rain, but also from pepper spray exposure or if other chemical irritants are used against peaceful protestors.
    • Be sure to wear sneakers – this will help you stay comfortable as you stand on your feet all day, but also allow you to move quickly if needed, to escape.
    • Be mindful of the accessories you have on – loose, dangling jewelry or hair may easily be grabbed and used against you. Keep the jewelry home and be sure to pull your hair back.
    • Since yelling can spread droplets during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider using signs, instruments or other noise makers other than your voice
    • To limit the spread of COVID-19, be sure to use masks along with hygiene methods, such as use of hand sanitizer and repeated hand washing
    • Carry a bandana soaked in water, lemon juice or vinegar with you – not only can this keep you cool in the heat, but it could be used as a covering for your nose and mouth if you experience chemical exposure and would allow you to breath.
    • Be mindful of your skincare routine – using vaseline or oil-based sunscreen or moisturizers on skin can trap chemicals if exposed, the same goes for wearing contact lenses.
    • Take a set of fresh clothes with you in a plastic bag, in case yours get contaminated by chemical irritants.
    • Bring a hat, which can protect you not only from the sun, but also from chemical weapons. Most importantly, do not protest alone – join a group of friends or connect with a group and share contact details so you can reconnect with people if you are separated.
    • Be aware of your environment and monitor the tone of the protest – keep your eyes on where law enforcement and other protest groups are at all times and where the quickest exit points are where you are protesting, should you need to leave quickly.
    • Don’t forget your attitude. Remember that you are powerful. You can easily withstand most of what the police throw at you, and you are fighting for justice. The primary weapon of the police is fear: Once you control that, pepper spray and other police tactics are easily manageable. Beware of rumors: They are usually false, and foster fear. Deal with the known truth.
    • Assess network coverage and internet access. Before you decide to send updates through Twitter or live-stream tools, check if you are in a position with enough coverage to support what you want to do online. Keep in mind that the coverage could suddenly drop.
    • Make sure you understand your livestream options and set up accounts prior to the event. You can document a peaceful assembly in different forms (via text, video, and picture). You must decide what you want to do based on the situation itself. If things are calm you can take pictures and send text updates. If violence is taking place you can turn on your camera and start video-recording events. If you there is Internet access you can live-stream what is happening. If you want to inform your friends, lawyers, or anyone else about what is happening via text-message, try to do it without looking to your keypad.
    • Your personal safety should always be a priority while taking pictures and videos in a peaceful assembly or sending text messages and web updates. Understand how far you are from security and anti-riot forces and how close to any police vans. Ideally, visit the assembly site prior to the event to become familiar with the location and routes if violence occurs. You don’t have to panic. Just keep your eyes open.
    • Charge your phone, carry a spare battery or power bank. Keep important information on a piece of paper, for example your lawyer mobile number and family member. Make sure you have enough credit on your sim if you are prepaid. If possible, make a short visit to the location of the assembly and explore the spots where there is high, medium and poor coverage. If you plan to have a WiFi device with you, also note the location (and security!) of any open Wifi networks. Remember that services disruption could happen due to the load.
    • Be sure to stay calm. Panicking increases the irritation.
    • Breathe slowly and remember it is only temporary.
    • See it coming, and monitor if police are putting gasmasks on, put on protective gear. If able, try to move away or get upwind.
    • Blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough and spit. Try not to swallow.
    • If you wear contacts, you must remove the lenses or get someone to remove them for you, with clean, uncontaminated fingers. Destroy the lenses after exposure, they are not cleanable. The most important aspect is not to rub it in.
    • Use an eye flush using a solution of half liquid antacid and half water. This only applies to aluminum hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide based antacids such as Maalox (plain or mint).
    • Immediately after addressing immediate medical concerns you should start walking around with your arms outstretched, removing contaminated clothing, and take a cool shower.
    • Water, water, water and more water. This will keep you hydrated and a bottle with a squirt top will allow you to wash off your skin or eyes, if needed
    • A cloth mask or a surgical mask to protect others from COVID-19
    • Snacks – preferably protein or energy snacks
    • Identification and/or emergency contact information only if you want to be cited out of jail in the event of arrest
    • Just enough money for food and transportation
    • Watch, paper, pen for accurate documentation of events, police brutality, injuries
    • Water- or alcohol-based sunscreen
    • Inhaler, epipen, insulin or other meds if applicable
    • Several days of prescription medication and doctor’s note in case of arrest
    • Menstrual pads, if needed. Avoid using tampons – if you’re arrested you may not have a chance to change it (tampons left in more than six hours increase your risk of developing toxic shock syndrome)
    • Wet Wipes and tissues
    • Basic First Aid Kit

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About us

As one of the world’s largest grassroots organizations, Amnesty International has a long history of monitoring and investigating police conduct throughout the world, including in the U.S. We investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and engage in transformative action to create a safer and more just world. When the U.S. government demands that governments in other countries improve their human rights records, we must hold it accountable by asking it to be transparent about its own human rights abuses with regard to policing. As a non-partisan organization, Amnesty International is committed to holding all government officials accountable to human rights.