As #BlackLivesMatter and other protesters take to the streets to protest police violence, many of us feel like we can only sit back helplessly and watch things unfold. There are several reasons folks can’t protest directly. Your work schedule may not allow it. You may have health conditions that prevent you from being a more active participant. You may just not want to risk getting punched in the face by rogue police forces.
And honestly, that’s okay!
Because there are ways to get involved with supporting the uprisings without having to march in the streets. This is a team effort, and everyone can participate in some way. Here are some ideas of how you can help sustain the uprisings.
- Become an official observer.
Legal observers are individuals who attend public demonstrations, protests and other activities where there is a potential for conflict between the public or activists and law enforcement personnel. Human rights observers act as an independent third party within a conflictual civil protest context, observing police behaviour in order to keep police accountable for their actions. The National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU offer training in many states.
- Become a street medic
Are you first aid certified? Have some experience in the medical field? Not squeamish at the sight of blood? Been a protestor before and are familiar with common injuries that protestors sustain? If so, then maybe providing medical care to protestors is the right fit for you. Check with your local community to sign up for training sessions. In the meantime, this wesbite is pretty damn useful.
Now if you don’t have the ability to be in the streets that close to the protests? No worries, you can still help the comrades.
3 Can you help supply needed materials? Can you sew? Or buy bandanas? Can you get masks into the hands of protest organizers?
Can you buy packs of water bottles? Coolers with wheels to easily carry water and milk?
Can you supply food for protestors? Keep in mind, not only do protestors need food in the moment, they may need supplies later. The least we can do is make sure people taking time off work to protest have a full fridge when they get home.
Can you supply first aid kits?
Can you supply materials to make signs, or even make some signs yourself?
Or, maybe you work at a craft store, or a grocery store and you can use that sweet employee discount to help purchase sign making materials, fabric, water bottles, snacks, gauze, milk, etc.
All of these things are needed are protests, and even if you can’t attend yourself, you can always arrange pick ups and drop offs of these items.
4 Transportation Public transit was a mess before the protests started, and it’s even worse now. Can you drive folks to rallies? If someone buys cases of water or other items in bulk (see #3), can you load up your car and get the items to the event, or in the hands of attendees?
5 Childcare/Pet Care Protests aren’t only for the childless. Would you be willing to babysit while friends go out to march? Make sure your neighbor’s grandma gets her heart meds on time? Would you be willing to feed and care for protestors pets if they get arrested? Remember, this is a community effort, and we need all members of the community on hand in whatever way works best for them. It should go without saying, but please get to know folks before you let them in your house to feed your dog. This is a great opportunity for community building and making new allies. Let’s not squander it.
- Monitor social media feeds
I think we all know that the right wing is doing their best to spread disinformation and frame protestors as “rioters” and “looters”. Do you have time to track trending hashtags and key terms to dispel advice?
Can you signal boost hashtags and trending terms to make sure all the important and accurate information is what trends?
We cannot afford to let other people run our narratives and social media provides an excellent opportunity for us to to tell our own stories without an anti left bias
- Have you signal boosted leftist, independent media today?
We need to signal boost the tweets, observations, and videos of the protestors in the street. We also need to boost leftist news media. Independent news media is a great place to learn directly from community leaders, seasoned protestors, as well as follow how politics and policy is being impacted by the uprisings. We all know most mainstream media have an anti left bias, so let’s work on legitimizing our own outlets and making sure they stay ethical and informative.
- Keep track of protestors
Can you link up pro bono attorneys with arrested protestors? Are willing to let protestors call you if they get arrested, and pass that information to an attorney? Can you follow up to make sure comrades have made it home safe from a protest if they haven’t been heard from in a few hours? Can you keep track of injuries sustained by protestors and make files? We need media organization just as much as we need folks in the streets.
*Bonus: Can you share a private list of safe houses where protestors can go if they’ve been injured by police?
- Have you donated to your local bail fund today?
All revolutions require funding, and contrary to the right wing conspiracies, George Soros ain’t funding us. We have local organizations that have active wishlists. Local bail funds that need support. If you can’t provide materials directly, donating to a local wishlist is a great way to help! We love National Bail Out
- Do you provide mental health or spiritual health services?
Being on the front lines of these protests can be incredibly traumatizing. Many on the front lines will need to decompress and need emotional support at some point. If you are a great listener, can pray with someone, or if you can just generally help with someone’s overall well being, you may have an opportunity to help.
- Meet up with your local leftists!
This is the time to build coalitions. Contrary to right wing conspiracies, Antifa is not an official organization. But Black Lives Matter is. The DSA is. And so are all the orgs listed here.(Disclaimer: while all the organizations in this link are real, they aren’t all necessarily leftist. This is an intro guide, but still, you need to CHOOSE WISELY)
You can join up with several leftist organizations who are involved with the current uprisings, and build long lasting community ties with them.
- Call/Email your elected officials.
Let your elected officials know that you stand with protestors, not police. Demand your local police be defunded, and let your officials know that police are the instigators. Politicians are hoping we’ll just return to the status quo. Let them know that is not the case.