How to Stay Safe at a Protest

Since May, multitudes who never demonstrated before have flooded the streets to protest racism and police violence. Protests can be unpredictable. Here’s how you and your comrades can stay safe.


  • Supplies Bring water in a squirt bottle, a snack, phone charger, permanent marker for writing phone numbers on your arm. If you are tear gassed or pepper sprayed, use only water on your eyes.
  • Phone Security Turn your phone security setting to lock every time you close it. Turn off the thumb and facial recognition unlock. Turn banner notifications off so that nobody can see who is writing to you. If you are comfortable and know your surroundings, turn off location tracking.
  • Know Your Rights Know what is legal to carry. Don’t take anything illegal with you or anything that you don’t want to lose. Write the number of legal support on your arm.
  • Plan Ahead Who will call in to work if you’re arrested? Who will care for your children, walk your dog or feed your pets? Who will call a lawyer, show up in court, wait for you? If you require medication, carry it in the prescription bottle in which it came. It may still be taken from you if you are arrested.


  • Buddy system Have a “buddy” that you arrive with and leave with. Have a plan for if you get separated. Make sure your buddy knows key information in case anything happens to you (your address, birth date, contact numbers).
  • Don’t run Walk, don’t run unless absolutely necessary. Running leaves behind those who can’t run, and escalates the situation.
  • Be Responsible Be Responsible for Yourself and Others. An unplanned arrest is not good for you or the movement. Unless you have a plan, try to avoid it. If you see someone being arrested, get their key information (date of birth, name, person to notify). Decide beforehand whether you can risk arrest, i.e., will your job be in jeopardy, your immigration status? If you are at risk, notify the marshals. Even if you are not at risk, do not put others at risk by your actions unless they consent to it.
  • If the situation looks dangerous, leave!
  • Listen to Marshals Marshals have been trained in de-escalation. Take marshal training yourself.
  • DO NOT POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA ABOUT YOUR ARREST. And definitely do not post about anyone else’s arrest without their consent. 

After (if there are arrests)

  • Ask for a Lawyer, and Don’t Talk to the Police You do not have to give them any information except to identify yourself. This is not the time for you to tell them what you think of them or the system. You do not want to escalate the situation and endanger yourself and others.
  • You Will be Searched Your cell phone and all personal items will be taken for safe-keeping and returned to you at the end of the process. Never consent to a search of your personal belongings. They will check for outstanding warrants. You may either be given a ticket for an appearance in court or kept for up to 24 hours for an arraignment.
  • Sustain Others Each person reacts differently to being arrested. Stay calm and supportive. Be proactive to get help for anyone with a medical emergency.
  • Help with Jail Support Find out where arrestees have been taken. The police will not always know and may not tell you. Notify the legal team. Stay in the precinct house or courthouse. Be in the courtroom or waiting whenever your comrades come out.

Adapted from “Protesting: Rights, Risks, Responsibilities,” a pamphlet  developed by the DSA National Red Rabbits team.