A riot can spontaneously occur out of nowhere. Riots stem from civil unrest, religious intolerance or fanaticism, racial/class tensions, or the imposition of government controls. With so many frustrations percolating in the hearts of our fellow citizens is there any surprise that a riot can manifest unexpectedly? At an event in which a large group of people come together, anything can trigger uncontrollable, unpredictable, & violent acts. Let's say someone has an urgent health concern that requires immediate medical attention. If an ambulance's sirens get confused for the imposition of law enforcement, then already you have a recipe for crowd agitation, violence, and potential stampede. Therefore, my fellow humans, here are more than a few things to be mindful of;
- Do not protest alone. Find a group & make sure there are accountability partners to look out for each other's safety. Avoid leaving the crowd you arrived with.
- Grab your metro pass in advance to avoid potentially heinous lines in the train station on the day.
- Carry small amounts of cash with you in case you need to quickly arrange transportation, grab food, or address your basic needs.
- Anticipate & supply yourself with the tools to counteract the possibility of chemical or impact munitions. (More below)
- Don't wear contacts. Or simply bring swimming goggles to protect your eyes.
- Avoid wearing oil based moisturizer or sunscreen as chemicals cling to these on your skin.
- Wear clothes that minimize the amount of exposed skin, such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts, when you go out. Avoid wearing anything that looks like a uniform so as not to be confused with law enforcement & avoid black hooded sweaters, since this type of clothing is associated with rioters in many countries around the world.
- Carry spare clothes to change into if you're hit by chemicals or a water cannon. Put them in a plastic bag for protection.
- Unfortunately, the far right is very good at combing through pictures and doxxing people. If that concerns you, mask up.
- Write pertinent phone numbers directly on your skin in sharpie.
- Before things go sideways, make an emergency offsite plan coordinating where to meet and by what time.
- Make sure all mobile devices are charged!! Bring your charger or a power block too.
- If you plan on going to jail for some reason, plan it: bail, lawyer, time off from work, plus your cadre of witnesses. Unexpected jail time can be life altering otherwise.
- Check out the ACLU's advice on knowing your protest rights.
ASSESS THE VENUE
- Think about your possible escape routes and safe havens before anything actually happens. Keep an eye out for side streets.
- In the event that rioters go crazy or the police start charging get off the main road asap.
- Identify dangerous behaviors in the crowd.
IN THE MOMENT
- Remain calm
- Avoid confrontation & do not engage potential threats by keeping your head down & minimizing eye contact.
- PRIORITY #1 - Crew before crowd. Reconnect with your fellow protest group. Leave no woman behind. Grip hands, lock elbows, & decide on a unifying chant to find each other if you get separated.
- PRIORITY #2 - Find an escape route.
- Do not run. Walk but walk with purpose. If you move too quickly, you might attract unwanted attention.
- Continue to move CALMLY with the crowd until you can escape into a doorway, an alley, a side street, or a safe building.
- If driving in a riot, drive calmly & remain in the car. Get off the main road and find areas less occupied by people. Keep moving forward and don't stop to assess the situation. If someone tries to block your car, honk your car and keep driving until he gets out of the way
CHEMICAL & IMPACT MUNITIONS
- Police may deploy riot control agents (tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets) to 'deescalate a situation'. Stay away from the front lines of a riot, and learn to recognize the signs that a riot control agent has been utilized.
1. Pepper spray - Water will make it worse. Instead use milk or liquid antacid and water. Wear vinyl or latex gloves to protect your hands from pepper spray; the nerve endings will make them feel like agony if sprayed
2. Tear Gas - A soft spray solution of half liquid antacid and half water (spray is also available in many drug stores and larger stores). Toothpaste rubbed beneath the eyes is an alternative. So is a bandana soaked in lemon juice or vinegar in a plastic bag, this can be used to breathe through for some protection against gas. Bring many of these since the gas will get absorbed into the bandana. NOTE: When you get home, put the contaminated clothes in a plastic bag for later decontamination and shower with cold water to avoid opening your pores.
ONLY DRAW A WEAPON YOU PLAN TO USE.
If you plan to attend a protest, please attend it peacefully, with great care & with critical attention to the fluctuations of your environment.