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Tips for Attending a Political Protest
Most Protestors Are Peaceful
If you have ever considered attending a political rally, demonstration, or march, but hesitated because of the stories about how they get out of control and, sometimes, violent, I completely understand. There is nothing more powerful than the feeling of unity at a successful peaceful protest. At the same time, there is nothing more scary and dangerous than a protest gone wrong.
However, the majority of protests are peaceful. You hear about the non-peaceful protests because that is what gain news coverage. Most of the time, the out-of-control protests start peacefully, and the majority of the protestors are peaceful. This is one of those cases where the actions of a few extremists can affect everyone.
Protests are wonderful events that we are lucky to be able to legally attend in the United States, so I suggest you attend one if there is a movement, issue, or candidate you feel strongly about.
Tips For Peaceful Protestors
Leave the Kids at Home
There are some events that are suitable for kids, but most are not. I can understand that you might want to offer your children the option to witness a protest in action. Remember, however, that they will have the same opportunities when they get a bit older. There are a lot of other options for teaching young children about politics. You never know what will happen at a protest, or the kind of images and chants your kids could be exposed to—so, leave them home.
Remain Aware of Your Surroundings
Rallies and protests end up being an orgy of group energy. It is easy to get caught up in everything, but don’t forget that you are in a public place surrounded by a lot of other energized strangers. In case something happens, whether it is a clash with police or an earthquake, be aware of where you are. You don’t want to head aimlessly for an exit route.
Listen to Police
When I was an active protestor, I often got annoyed with the police officers at our rallies. But it is important to listen to them. If they tell you to get off the street or to move back, do it. Unless your objective is to get arrested for civil disobedience, it isn’t worth it. After all, you are the peaceful protestor. You are not the one armored in shielded clothing and armed with batons, teargas, and rubber bullets. So, listen to the police even if you don’t agree with them.
You will spend the majority of the time on your feet, and often marching (depending on the demonstration). You will also be pressed among a lot of other bodies, so you should dress comfortably. No high heels, flip flops, or heavy purses. You will be in a crowded place, which means you have to be aware of potential pickpockets.
Listen, Learn, & Enjoy
Despite all of my warnings, remember to have a good time. Political rallies tend to bring out all different kinds of people with varying beliefs. If you take the time to talk to people and collect literature, you can really learn a lot about the wide range of political beliefs.