I’m sure a number of you are planning to join one of the various marches tomorrow night in support of impeachment. So I wanted to re-up my post on personal security at protests, marches, and demonstrations for anyone that missed it the first several times I posted it.
I really don’t know what to tell anyone in regard to counter-protests. While there were some vocal protests at a number of Democratic members of Congress’s town halls over the past weekend, none were violent. But, as we’ve seen stated often enough on social media and in interviews with the news media, the President’s supporters are not shy about threatening the use of force. So you need to prepare yourself that there may be violence from counter-protestors. If possible, I would recommend designating one member of your group to begin to record video as soon as the march you’re attending starts and and to do so through the duration of the march. If possible, you should be on the buddy system with the person videoing events so they don’t have to worry about being blindsided if counter-protesters decide to become violent.
(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.
- Go with a buddy, that way you have at least one person looking out for you/watching your back and vice versa.
- Carry cash and make sure to carry a valid picture ID!
- Bring a pocket flashlight.
- Get and wear a go pro or equivalent that is automatically updating to the cloud.
- Bring a charged back up power source for your cell phone and go pro regardless of whether it is supposed to be a long day.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bring a bottle of saline eye rinse in case you need to rinse your eyes out if tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
- Bring a tourniquet or something that could be used as a tourniquet if necessary.
- 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.
- 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. Also, if you’re going to be somewhere cold, bring gloves.
- Bring/wear a hat to keep the sun off your head or to keep it warm depending on the weather.
- Bring/wear eye protection. Specifically sunglasses that are impact rated. (You should be able to pick up military surplus ones pretty cheap).
- Sunscreen, skin moisturizer, and lip balm. Even if its cold you’ll need these.
- 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.
- 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.
- Have a contact plan for both linking up and communicating in case you get separated from anyone you’re with.
- 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.
- Have a lawyer you can contact with 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Be respectful and polite when dealing with the authorities – law enforcement, the National Park Service, whoever.
- 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 Alert, Stay Alive!