10 ways to stay safe while participating in a protest

With millions of marchers taking to the streets since the election of President Donald Trump, many new protesters are letting their voices be heard.

Here are 10 tips on protesting for a cause and getting home safely:

1. Go with friends

Don’t go by yourself. Be part of a group or go with one other person at least. Stay with another person during the event, and try not to get separated.

Before you go, make a plan for when and where you will meet if you do get separated. Let friends and family know you’re going and when you expect to be home. And remember, heavy car and train traffic will cause delays.

2. Wear sensible clothes

If it’s winter, dress warmly, but remember you’re going to be moving around. Remember: a protest is a physical event which can include a walk of several miles.

Warm, breathable layers are important, as are comfortable, sturdy shoes. Check the weather forecast beforehand, and don’t forget hats and gloves, if necessary.

3. Bring what you need

Don’t overly accessorize yourself. Remember, in addition to the cause you’re supporting, this is a march. A small bag with phone, cash, ID, bank card, food and water are important. Be sure to stay hydrated.

If you’re bringing a sign, make sure the march doesn’t prohibit certain materials. Wood posts can be dangerous.

4. Make sure your phone is charged and protected

Get that 100 percent charge before the event starts, and bring a portable charger in case the battery dies.

If you are concerned about being arrested, civil rights attorneys suggest disabling the fingerprint unlock feature on your smartphone if you normally use it. Lock your phone with just a passcode, which the police can’t ask you for under the Fifth Amendment. Turn off text preview to keep messages from showing on the screen.

A useful app to download is FireChat, which lets you use your phone like a walkie talkie.

5. Bring cash, coins and essential medicine

If you think you’re at risk of being arrested during your march, attorneys suggest bringing at least $100 to help you get out of jail, coins for a pay phone call, and at least three days worth of essential medicine. Carry them in the original bottle with a prescription. Medic Alert bracelets are also a good idea.

6. Protect yourself from mace

If the march is likely to veer into civil disobedience which might result in mace or tear gas, bring a plastic bag with a bandanna soaked in water. Holding it over your nose and mouth will help you breathe.

7. If you are stopped by police (part I)

If you are stopped by police, stay calm, be polite and don’t run. Keep your hands visible.

If police officers say you aren’t free to go, and they start questioning you, know you don’t have to answer all their questions.

In some states, including Washington, D.C., you're required to give your name if an officer asks you to identify yourself. These states have what are called "stop and identify" statutes, and you can find out online if your state has one.

8. If you are stopped by police (part II)

If it’s required by law, identify yourself. Otherwise stay silent if a police officer is questioning you. Verbally tell the officer, “I wish to remain silent.”

The main reason to do this: If you converse with police officers and then they arrest you, anything you said prior to your arrest could be used as evidence later. The police will only read your Miranda Rights -- "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…" -- after you're arrested or when a police officer is formally interrogating you. So it's best just to stay silent.

Don’t lie to the police or reveal any unnecessary information, and don’t try to talk yourself out of the situation. Also, don’t mention your immigration status unless it’s an immigration agent questioning you.

9. Don’t challenge authorities at the scene of a protest

At the scene of a protest, people, including police, can lose control. The American Civil Liberties Union saod the scene of a protest is not the time or the place to “challenge police misconduct.”

If you feel your rights are being violated during a peaceful protest, it’s advised not to get physical with an officer or threaten to file a complaint. Instead, the ACLU said you should cooperate with law enforcement -- but pay attention and record every little detail so you can file a complaint later.

10. Permits

Permits are occasionally required for protests. Authorities can require permits for large groups gathering in certain parks or plazas, marches in the street that block traffic, and/or large protests that use speakers.

People protesting in this way often need to submit an application for a permit weeks before their protest. If the requirements seem unrealistic, contact a group such as the ACLU, which often negotiates such matters.

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