Staying Safe During a Protest
What happens if you are injured?
With protests happening across the country and even around the world, it's important to stay informed and make sure you are prepared and staying safe. Most of the protests have remained peaceful, however, the police has used rubber bullets, tear gas, and taken other actions against protesters not involved in looting or violent incidents. Some protesters were seriously injured, one man in Buffalo, NY is now suffering from a TBI after being pushed to the ground by police officers. Other protesters who say were there in peace, have now filed lawsuits against cities like Dallas, and Portland, because they suffered serious injuries and say did not take part in aggressive behavior.
Because of these incidents, it is more imperative that protesters bring safety items in case they face a situation where their safety is at risk.
What Happens to the Injured?
The First Amendment protects your right to assemble, however, from recent lawsuits and what has been reported, police officers have been shown to use force that could leave protesters seriously injured. If that is the case, do protesters have the right to sue the city for injuries that occurred during that protest? Portland personal injury attorney, Aaron Tillmann had this to say about potential injury lawsuits coming from protesters who say were acting peacefully but were injured by officers.
"It is your Constitutional right to assemble in public space and peacefully protest against the government. The government is allowed to place restrictions on speech, such as a protest, with what is known as "time, place, and manner" restrictions. Generally, this means that the government can require that a protest apply for a permit and abide by those permit parameters.
However, if one is injured during a peaceful protest, there can be multiple parties that may be liable for your injury. These include the protest organizers, the landowner on which the protest took place, and also the government's response to the protest.
If the police injure you during a protest, you may have a claim for battery or negligence on the government's behalf. As the city cracks down on the continued protest, please remain safe. "
You are protected by the law depending on the details of how your injuries were caused. However, if you do plan on continuing to protest, here are a few tips on how to stay safe and what to avoid.
Before You Go...
Plan ahead before you take off. Bring essential needs since you are planning to be gone most of the day. Most importantly, is plan for a re-connect if you end up getting separated from your friends or group. Go in with a calm mind and stay focused, protests could become intense, or emotional, and it's important to remain calm so that those around you can remain calm as well. You should also do your best to de-escalate a situation of those around you. Check on your mental health and those around you if there is a tense moment or someone starts to cause conflict, remember the goal and the reason you are there.
What Not to Do...
Don't wear contact lenses. If you are sprayed with tear gas, chemicals can be trapped in your lenses. Make sure you avoid wearing heavy jewelry or ties, again, in case you are in a dangerous situation, you want to avoid getting caught or pulled. Don't go alone. Try to join a group, or get some friends to go with you. That way, you can protect each other and stay safe.
What to Bring?
Make sure you are bringing plenty of drinking water, and water to wash your skin or eyes. It would also help to bring snacks, inhaler, or prescription medication. In case of an arrest, bring wipes or tissues, as well as menstrual pads if needed, enough cash for transportation and emergency contact information, numbers written down so you have someone to call.
Know Your Rights
You are legally allowed to peacefully protest, but it's important to freshen up on your rights before you head out to make sure you are protected as well as those around you. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, these are some actions you can take you were stopped by police.
- Stay Calm, don't argue, don't resist them, as well as keeping your hands where they can see them.
- Ask if you are free to leave, if so, walk away peacefully.
- You have the right to ask why if you are arrested, if no answer is given, remain silent ask for a lawyer, and don't sign anything unless your lawyer is present.
- You have the right to a phone call, if you are calling your lawyer, police are not allowed to listen. Writing contacts numbers on your arm will be helpful before going to protest in case this happens.
- You DON'T have to consent to a search your belongings.
- Police may NOT confiscate or demand to see your photos or video on your phone without a warrant, they also CANNOT delete data under any circumstances.
Were Your Rights Violated?
If you believe your rights were violated, it is advice that you write down everything you remember. This includes, an officers badge number, patrol car and/or agency they work for. That is why having something to write down with, other than your phone is key. If possible, get contact information from people who witnessed the event, take photographs of any injuries. You can then get your information together and file a complaint with internal affairs.
To read more about your rights and information about attending protests, visit ACLU.org.