Guidelines for Safe Protesting

We know that many of our members, comrades, and allies feel compelled to join the rebellions and protests springing up across the country right now, in response to the ongoing police violence and murders against black and brown people. DSA-LA has compiled a list of short tips for comrades to protest as safely as possible.

If you are sick, are at high-risk for COVID-19 infection, or live or work with someone who is high-risk, do not attend these protests!

  • These protests are highly likely to be heavily policed! Avoid direct police contact whenever possible.
  • If you plan to attend, please observe the following safety guidelines specific to protesting during COVID. Links to primary sources at end of post:
      • Wear a mask! This is non-negotiable. My mask protects you, your mask protects me.
      • Maintain physical distancing. Bring a light-weight tape measure (like a ribbon, nothing that can be construed for weapon) and tape or chalk. Measure six foot circles and encourage allies to maintain physical distance. 
      • Do not shake hands, hug, or conduct long, face-to-face conversations. Maintaining physical distance is emotionally challenging, especially given the callous and cruel response to the crisis by our political leaders, but we must resist the temptation to breach these basic safety protocols. Say hello to your friends at a distance and promise to link up online when the event is over.
      • Quarantine. Self-quarantine for two weeks after attending the protests.
      • Get tested. Get a COVID-19 test approximately 5 days after - earlier risks false negatives.
  • Bring hand sanitizer. Wash your hands after touching surfaces, if necessary.
  • These are peaceful protests. Follow instructions from event organizers regarding places to protest, when to move, and how to communicate. If police, military, or counter-protestors are present, avoid them. 

Other pre-COVID safety guidelines:

  • Find a trusted friend or comrade who will not be at the protest who can check in with you and make sure you've left safely. Make sure they know your full legal name and birth date
  • Protect cell phone privacy. Cell phones are important tools in political protests, but must be used carefully. Turn off geo-location services and use a burner phone if possible. Communicate via WhatsApp or Signal (as opposed to voice or text). 
  • Protect your identity and the identity of others. Protests aren’t photo ops. Since we will already have our faces covered, our identities should be relatively well protected, but if you do post pictures to social media, faces should be covered or obscured.
  • Take emergency precautions. Bring your ID, some cash (up to $100 in small bills if possible), and an “In Case of Emergency” card including the name and contact info for two friends or loved ones and special medical notifications. You may also include a reminder of your rights to protest and contact info for legal aid. Here is a guide from the Washington, D.C. ACLU.
  • If you get arrested, fill out this form from NLG when you're able to.
  • Bring water. Bring at least two bottles of water per person to stay hydrated, but conserve water in case of emergency. If you are targeted with pepper spray or pepper bullets, flush the affected area. If possible, do not wear eye makeup or contacts.
  • Be mindful of press interactions. Our members are not attending to get press attention. We want to support our comrades killed by cops or threatened by cops. If somebody asks to interview, pass them to a core event organizer first. If speaking to the press do not represent DSA-LA directly without press training. You are a member of DSA-LA. You may not speak for the whole org. Wear a DSA-LA shirt or the color red if you want to highlight your affiliation.
  • A special precaution for these protests: These protests have been specifically convened to oppose police violence against people of color. Lighter-skinned members of DSA-LA should follow the lead of the event organizers. If the cops threaten us and our presence is needed, we should step up. Don’t leave our black and brown comrades exposed to police repression. 
  • If you do go out to protest, consider self-quarantining for two weeks after your contribution to the movement is finished. These actions are important but they are also putting our black, brown and movement communities at great risk at a time when LA County infections are spiking. Also consider getting a COVID test five days after exposure. 

Critical incident stress can be caused by events at protests and mass mobilizations. Your mental health is as important as your physical safety and well-being. We’ve compiled some mental health docs, phone, and text support resources here.
Note: there is risk that hotlines call 911 to attend to someone who is suicidal and police may respond so it is really important that we monitor ourselves or our comrades for early warning signs that we are not doing well emotionally.

Links to further resources:

These guidelines were adapted from the following:

“How to Protest Safely During a Pandemic,”

“What to Bring to a Peaceful Protest,”