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A Quick Guide To Protest Etiquette

Be a fantastic ally in 6 easy steps

Taking a picture without permission = bad etiquette. (Image via Getty)

In case you hadn’t heard, protests are Americans’ new favorite weekend activity. It’s a promising sign that in the face of serious threats to basic freedoms, people are coming together to defend democratic ideals and essential human rights. It’s true we can only turn the tides of oppression by showing up in big numbers. That being said, there’s a chill and not-so-chill way of going about it. Whether you’re gearing up for another weekend march or for a solid four years of protesting, have these tips in mind to be the very best ally you can be.


Don’t bring your full-grown Tibetan Mastiff

Or better yet, don’t bring any pets. Unless, of course, you require the assistance of a service animal, refrain from bringing your pets to the protest. Not only is it kind of a jerk move to subject your dog to a mob full of screaming people, but you’ll only distract from the event’s purpose by toting your adorable puppy around. We’ll always need adorable puppies to preserve our sanity, but there’s a time and place for that. It’s safe to assume your dog would rather be at home rolling around on your clean sheets anyway. As for those who like to parade parrots on their shoulders, no. Just no.

Double check that sign

Sure, protests can form at the very last minute and we don’t have time to handcraft a masterpiece for each one. But if you’re showing up to a travel ban protest with a sign about letting vulvas make their own decisions, there’s the chance some messages might get mixed. Part of showing up at a protest is making a visual statement about a specific cause, so it makes sense that ignoring the pertinent concern has a way of diluting the overarching message. Moral of the story? One sign does not fit all (unless it’s about fascism, in which case, you’re probably covered).

Show respect

If you’re protesting where vulnerable people are in danger, be respectful of their needs—aka don’t be proof of why protests need to happen. This is a gentle reminder to avoid shouting over the people you vowed to support in the first place. For instance, if you’re at a march for women’s rights, step off the soapbox and make some room for those who identify as women. Same goes for immigrants, black people, Muslims, scientists, LGBTQ demonstrators, and those with disabilities. Which reminds me …

Try not to trample people

This should go without saying, but be aware of your surroundings and make extra space for people who may not be as able-bodied as you. If someone’s trying to get through a crowd in a wheelchair, help form a path. If you see a mother carrying a baby on her hip along with more supplies than Cheryl Strayed had at the start of Wild, give her ample room to breathe and be a super-person.

An example of good photography etiquette. (Image via Getty)

Be social media savvy

No one wants to waste an opportunity to broadcast their mad protesting game by not posting about it on social media. But for the sake of the innocent and handleless, don’t post pictures of strangers’ faces without getting their permission first. Whether they look mad, sad, confused, or like the perfect companion for your killer pun, it’s never a good look to broadcast faces without those faces’ consent. Pro tip: Respect other protesters’ privacy by snapping photos from behind the crowd. That way you get your compelling group shot without sacrificing your buds to the National Security Agency. Boom.

Get drunk after the protest

This isn’t your alma mater’s homecoming tailgate. Leave the pregaming to college freshman and saturate yourself with alcohol after the protest is over, not before. Not only will you be more helpful and respectful by showing up sober, you’ll minimize the risk of peeing your pants when there are no bathrooms to be found. That’s just being smart.

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