Marching Forward, Staying Safe - 8 Tips to Supporting Safely
The first protest I joined, I forgot the keys to the apartment and locked myself out...
It was one of the many peaceful protests in downtown Brooklyn, in between the neighborhood brownstones and newly sprouted skyscrapers.
As I walked out of my building, I felt an immediate jolt of energy. What I noticed first was how racially diverse everyone was. Some were handing out granola bars and bottles of water, many were equipped with colorful signs.
The next big question was, “this can’t be safe to do with COVID, right?”
Leaving the apartment reminded me of being let loose for recess after a long boring math class. 30 minutes to run around...don’t squander the time...be a part of something.
But this wasn’t recess, this wasn’t for fun.
What brought all these people together was an act of racial violence and an entire history of injustice. And in spite of months of social distancing for COVID, people felt compelled to leave their homes.
Just weeks ago, our team spent early mornings and long nights delivering medicine kits to healthcare and frontline workers throughout New York and the country. While marching, I couldn’t help but feel the tension between the social movement and public health and want to think about ways to make sure people are safe while demonstrating.
Here’s our 8 tips for being safe:
Bring a Mask for You (and for Others): Obviously bring a mask. Bring some masks for other people too! If you see someone in the crowd without a mask, hand them a mask as a way of supporting their safety and the cause.
Bring Hand Sanitizer and Choose a Chant: It’s hard to keep track about what you touch, so during the protests find regular moments to apply hand sanitizer to your hands. The chants are often cyclical, so pick one, and everytime the crowd chants, proactively apply hand sanitizer.
Make a Bigger Sign, Protect Your Space: Keep your distance with more support! If you make a bigger sign, you can have your own little space bubble. Bigger the sign, the louder your support, and also the more space between people.
Find the Safe Distances in the March: To be supportive you don’t have to be squished in the crowd. There are often natural spots to demonstrate peacefully, while also not being too close to others. Try your best to find your pockets of space.
Wash Up When you Get Home: Wash your hands, clean your clothes and anything else that might have come into contact with others when you get home.
Mark Down the Date, Stay Vigilant and Get Tested: Mark down the date you left the house on a piece of paper or Google calendar event. Watch yourself for symptoms and make sure you get tested at least 4 days after you've been in crowds. If it’s difficult to get tests, make an appointment proactively.
Living with an At-Risk Family Member, Find Other Ways to Support: If you’re living with someone who is at risk or older, support in other ways and don’t put them at risk. There are so many ways to support the movement such as donating, voting, and support organizations.
- Don’t forget your keys...