Peaceful Assembly and Personal Security – Re-upped

I know a number of you all are planning to join one of the various protests, actions, and/or demonstrations that will begin taking place as a result of the President’s family separation policy. So I wanted to re-up the post for anyone that missed it the first several times I posted it. I also saw a tweet, which I can’t find right now, from one of the protesters at the Vice President’s event last week in Ohio who said that the audience assaulted her and other protestors before event security came and escorted them out. So you need to prepare yourself that there may be violence if you protest at this type of event. I would recommend designating one member of your group to begin to record video as soon as the demonstration starts and for that person to do nothing but quietly stand and video events so there is a record and they don’t have to worry about being attacked. And one other person as the dedicated video recording person’s buddy so they can keep their head on a swivel and look out for that person’s wellbeing. Also, stay as close to the perimeter of the event, near an exit, and with your back to a wall if at all possible.

(Originally posted on 18 December 2016)

Congress shall make no law… abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. — Amendment 1, Bill of Rights, US Constitution

One of our readers/commenters emailed me about a week ago and asked if I would put up a post about personal security for those going to peaceably assemble to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. I put a list together and ran it past a select group of our Balloon Juice legal eagles (those I’ve corresponded with before/have corresponded with me, so if you didn’t get asked, don’t be insulted I didn’t want to just impose on you with a cold request) – thank you all for getting back to me. Here’s my list of what I think anyone going to peacefully assemble should do to enhance their personal security.

  1. Go with a buddy, that way you have at least one person looking out for you/watching your back and vice versa.
  2. Carry cash and make sure to carry a valid picture ID!
  3. Bring a pocket flashlight.
  4. Get and wear a go pro that is automatically updating to the cloud.
  5. Bring a pocket charger for your cell phone and go pro regardless of whether it is supposed to be a long day.
  6. Make sure your personal electronic devices all have sufficient password protection and encryption on them. And have them set to upload to the cloud at a regular interval.
  7. Turn off fingerprint access to unlock your phone and delete your finger prints from the memory. Some jurisdictions allow law enforcement to compel you to unlock your phone if it has finger print based access. Or get a disposable phone just for this occasion.
  8. Turn off your phone and other personal electronic devices option to connect to known wifi as it can be used as a way to fail your encryption.
  9. Bring a bandana or neck gaiter and water so you can make a make shift gas mask in case things get out of hand and tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
  10. Bring a bottle of saline eye rinse in case you need to rinse your eyes out if tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
  11. Bring plenty of water and some snacks to make sure you’re properly hydrated and you’ve got enough fuel in your system to get through the day.
  12. Dress in layers so you are prepared for the weather and make sure you have good shoes/boots and a change of socks in case they should get wet. A set of silk base layer undersocks is a good idea regardless of the weather. They’ll help keep your feet warm or cool as needed and they’ll provide some protection in case your shoes/boots and socks get wet. And something to keep the back of your neck and your ears warm if you’re going to be someplace cold.
  13. Bring/wear a hat to keep the sun off your head or to keep it warm depending on the weather.
  14. Bring/wear eye protection. Specifically sunglasses that are impact rated. (You should be able to pick up military surplus ones pretty cheap).
  15. Sunscreen, skin moisturizer, and lip balm. Even if its cold you’ll need these.
  16. If you need to take regular/routine prescription medication: bring it in its original container, with the prescription details on the label. If its a gel based application and comes in a packet, make sure you’ve got a hard copy of the prescription with you.
  17. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You don’t have to be paranoid, but have a sufficient level of situational awareness. If something looks and/or feels hinky or the hair on the back of your neck stands up, head on home or go get a drink or go back to your hotel. Know who and what is around you, keep your valuables in front pockets or in secure/securable purses/bags, and keep those where they can’t be easily snatched or accessed.
  18. Have a contact plan for both linking up and communicating in case one gets separated from anyone you’re with.
  19. Have a contact plan to stay in touch with someone who isn’t at the march, but knows that you’re there and a regular set of contact times.
  20. Have a lawyer you can contact if necessary and that your outside contact could contact if you don’t check in. Make sure you have all of your contact’s phone numbers memorized in case your phone is damaged or taken by law enforcement should the worst happen and you’re arrested.
  21. Bring a sharpie to take down badge numbers if necessary. And if necessary write them on your hand.

Should the worst happen and you get caught up in a peaceable assembly that suddenly turns not so peaceable:

  1. Do not resist law enforcement. Just do what they say, let your arms go limp, and do what you can to avoid a reflex response to resist – that can get you charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.
  2. Be respectful and polite when dealing with the authorities – law enforcement, the National Park Service, whoever.
  3. If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer and then shut up. Do not say anything else or answer any other questions until your lawyer arrives. In fact let the lawyer do the talking.

One last item: some of you probably carry a pocket knife or multitool everywhere. Or everywhere that you’re normally allowed. I would recommend not carrying anything on your possession that could be construed as a concealed weapon or even an openly carried one. Even if you’re in a state/jurisdiction that allows for concealed or open carry of knives and/or other weapons – don’t. Being part of a march or peaceful assembly that turns ugly is not a good time to attempt firearms (or knife) normalization.

Stay Frosty!

15 replies
  1. 1
    Elizabelle says:

    This is a really good list, Adam.

  2. 2
    Mary G says:

    I did as much of this as I could for the first Women’s March and though I didn’t need any of it, it certainly gave me peace of mind. Thank you for re-upping it.

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Elizabelle: And if I get my hands on that guy, he’s in trouble. He’s making me look bad!//


  4. 4
    JCJ says:

    Thank you for re-posting this. I will definitely be attending some protests in the near future.

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: @JCJ: You’re quite welcome.

  6. 6
    Mary G says:

    Right winger who spent years in D.C. was just elected president of Colombia. (WaPo)

    In contrast, Duque’s win could herald a return to more forceful tactics. The United States has spent $10 billion in two decades fighting coca growth here — only to find it higher now than at the launch of the campaign. U.S. officials see Duque — a protege of right-wing former president Alvaro Uribe, who launched a widespread offensive against guerrillas and narco-traffickers in the 2000s — as a reliable partner. He could bring back a version of the controversial practice of aerial spraying, banned in 2015 for health reasons.

    Duque — who also pledged to lower corporate taxes and boost police forces — brings with him this nation’s first female vice president, former defense minister Martha Lucia Ramirez, 63.

    Sounds a lot like someone we know. The article says the nation is deeply polarized. Putin also working there, too?

  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    You can now buy small individual containers of milk in shelf-safe packaging (meaning, you don’t have to keep it cold). Having one or two of those in your snack kit would be helpful for rinsing out your eyes if there is tear gas or pepper spray in the air.

  8. 8
    Mary G says:

    Republicans probably won’t like this:

    Peter Strzok, who was singled out in a recent Justice Department inspector general report for the politically charged messages, would be willing to testify without immunity, and he would not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to any question, his attorney, Aitan Goelman, said in an interview Sunday.

    Goodlatte had started to subpoena him, but probably slow-walked it. Easier to make him a boogieman via Twitler’s tweets. (WaPo)

  9. 9
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for the post

  10. 10
    bluefish says:

    @Mary G: I’m no expert but Putin and Co. have been at it in Brasil for awhile now, with disastrous consequences–or so some of us suspect. Colombia wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    Thank you, Adam, for the helpful list. It’s come to this, no? Good! I haven’t been as angry as I was all day today since Abu Ghraib. These folks continue to make mistake after mistake after mistake but, wow, something misty in the air has offered them cover. Am hoping against hope that this time, this time, the veil will drop. If not, there will surely be other opportunities for additional un-American outrages — and the dent, the mark, the stain of this ongoing criminal activity on the border, will have offered up what it can in terms of permanent damage. Don’t even know if that makes sense — Much of the anger today for me was fueled by pure unadulterated broken-heartedness. Tomorrow will be another day. I’d like to see the folks responsible for this nightmare dragged through the international court system. I’m still a naive dreamer of course but one simply has to hold on. My dreams rarely come true — don’t really expect them to — kinda not why I have them. I guess I hold onto some of them, those dreams, etc, as a way of trying to stay clean. To the extent that one can. Sorry .. am blabbing. Idiotic. I so desperately want my country back. And one already knows that it won’t be the same — but it needn’t be THIS! THIS is intolerable.

  11. 11
    kattails says:

    JHC. Thanks, Adam, I saved it to my desktop, what is a Go Pro? There are pocket chargers?

    I was at the May Day anti-war demonstrations in, what, 1971? in D.C. Completely politically naive, I gave someone a lift because I had the day off, and got caught up. Went into a church that had been tear gassed. Saw frightened National Guardsmen my age, fully geared up, lining the streets. Cell phones were a Star Trek invention, not yet available in the real world. (Actually, my current cell phone was a prop on the original TV show.) I remember being held for hours in the underground parking area of a large court building, when this tiny woman in a big hat came through yelling “What the hell are these kids doing here, get them moving”. It was, bless her soul, Bella Abzug and that memory just triggered an image of her clawing her way out of a peaceful afterlife to come smite some people.

    Tick-tock m’f*ckers is our hope that the clock is soon to run out on these monsters. What’s giving me the creeps is the feeling that the sound is tick-tick-tick-tick; that this administration is a time bomb. Or IS– a series of bombs. Going off daily, all around our country.

  12. 12
    Origuy says:

    One thing I thought of before the Women’s March was to wear glasses instead of contact lenses. Not only would contacts make tear gas worse, if you are arrested it may be awhile before you can take out your contacts.

  13. 13

    […] you join a rally or a march — and there are some being organized — follow these simple rules outlined by Adam L. Silverman at Balloon Juice.  Or if you can’t go or feel more comfortable […]

  14. 14
    J R in WV says:

    I’m personally hoping that some active local authorities will decide that taking these kids away from their families is what it is: A Crime, called kidnapping children. Go to a small facility full of kids, with police and prosecutors, shut down the facility, arrest everyone on staff for conspiracy to kidnap children, start taking testimony from them about who ordered the crimes. While shackled in chains.

    Take the kids to a more proper facility where social workers can hug them, love on them, provide REAL blankets, not aluminized mylar emergency sheets [ who decided that was appropriate for little kids anyway? you could suffocate wrapped up in one of those! ] Then issue warrants for the arrest of superiors, for the border patrol agents who first took them from their parents, for the owners of the contract facilities! Teach them to think about what they are doing under those contracts.

    Ask them, in their jail facility, Do they have a plan to reunite the kids with their parents? Do they know where the parents are right now? Every answer will be another nail in their cell door, and in the cell door of the person up the chain of command from them.

    Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Michele Nielsen, who is publicly claiming that there is no policy to take children from their parents, should be arrested by civil authorities. Who in that chain of command started taking children without a written formal policy in place? How did these children wind up in cages with no family adults? Without a written policy it’s just obviously lawless kidnapping of children.

    Kirstjen Michele Nielsen is the top of the conspiracy to commit kidnapping of children for immoral purposes. Everyone below that level of command is guilty of criminal acts, IF there is actually no written policy about taking kids from their parents. Now, by claiming there is no policy, she attempts to distance herself from what is obviously criminal conduct, and throws the whole border apparatus under the bus to defend herself.

    They can’t just decide to put people in jail [ whatever you call it, locked in a cage is jailed ] who haven’t even been accused of an actual criminal offense. Little kids, indeed!!

  15. 15
    Francis says:

    In 12, I would add that the shoes must be closed toe and solidly made. Women especially should wear hiking boots.

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