Over the years I’ve done a few protests. Always peaceful events, just holding a sign on the side of the road or sidewalk and passing out literature sometimes. If you want to get involved in an issue to the point that you are ready to hit the streets, here’s a bit of info you may want to consider.
The action seems to be in the middle of the crowd. That is where adrenaline runs highest. It’s also the best place to get in trouble. I’ve always stayed on the outer edges. That way, if anything goes bad, and thankfully, I haven’t seen any physical violence, I wouldn’t be caught up in the middle of it. I have no intention of getting arrested for a cause. A letter to my representative is much more effective and a whole lot cheaper!
You may think you are in a crowd of the nicest folks on earth, and maybe you are. But, if you’ve ever had any conversations in a coffee shop with 3 or 4 people about religion or politics or philosophy, it’s a totally different dynamic when that 3 or 4 folks is multiplied by a few hundred and everyone is on the street. I wouldn’t be surprised if some participants have gotten so taken up in a crowd that they holler things at opponents that they wouldn’t normally say. Be careful of the herd mentality.
The cops are not there to arrest you. They are there to keep you safe. If you follow the rules and don’t get too close to the street and don’t incite the crowd to violence they will not bother you. Houston police did a fantastic job at a protest that I was at recently. They were watching us but with a relaxed demeanor that made it clear they were not there to be anyone’s enemy. Respect them and the job they are doing, and you have every right to expect them to treat you with fairness. (I know – I’ve seen the videos and I know cops can get out of hand. If one does, in a crowd, it will be video’d and his or her hiney will be in tons of trouble and they know that. They are going to behave.)
Be sure you are not carrying a wallet or purse that a professional pick-pocket can remove. You may think your back end is sensitive enough to know if someone lifted your wallet, but these folks do it all the time. Use a chain on your wallet or wear a long-tailed shirt.
Be careful who you stand next to. Some folks don’t have a lot of sense, and when they make their signs it may be something that is offensive. You may not want others to think you are with that person.
Don’t get into arguments and don’t yell at people. Always remember to treat others as you would want to be treated. I have to give credit for that one to the Wisest One Who Ever Lived.