Activism 101: How to Prepare for a Protest

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As the #ENDSARS protests intensify all over Nigeria, more people are coming out against police brutality and disbanding the rogue unit. The protests are in their early days and due to the lack of a reaction by the Nigerian government, it seems it will last a while longer. If you’ve supported the movement online and you’re considering taking the step to join others in the streets, this article is for you. We’ve compiled some basic things you need to know as you prepare to protest.

Physically

Nourish Yourself

If you can, eat very well the day before and drink lots of water, you do not want to be dehydrated in a protest. Pack snacks that will keep you energized throughout the day, water is VERY important. Make sure to eat well when you get home to refill your energy.

Do stretches and warm-ups before you go out

You’ll most likely be mobile throughout the day, and you would want your limbs to be prepared. A simple activity like walking is a decent warm-up, and you can try some of these stretches.

Try to watch how much you need to pee

Although this is quite relative to each person, some nutritionists have said that eating carbohydrates with unsaturated fats help regulate urine in the short term. You would want to reduce the number of times you have to pee which would mean being separated from a group.

Take Out Your Contact Lenses

Contact lenses may trap tear gas or pepper spray in your eyes. Wear glasses as an alternative if you have them, or even goggles. It would also be great to avoid heavy makeup or lotions because police sprays and smoke can stick to them.

Form a Group

Go with at least one person you know so you can look out for each other. Have roles and discuss what you would do if different things happen. Meet up before the protest, stay together, and leave together.

Digitally

Disable Biometrics on your phone

It is easier for police to force your finger on your phone or put your face in front of it. Keep your passcode enabled. You should also consider bringing a phone you don’t use often with less of your data in case the police confiscates your phone.

Scrub people’s faces off images

If you want to share pictures from the protests, think about other people’s safety after it, and make their faces as obscure as possible. You can use this tool called ‘Image Scrubber

Turn off Location Services

Authorities can make cell companies give them cell tower data to track your location. Also on your apps, consider disabling location when you make posts.

What to bring

A bag and/or backpack: You’ll need something small and durable like a fanny pack for essential items. Avoid bulky bags.

Comfortable shoes: You have to wear shoes you are comfortable walking long distances in, this cannot be understated.

Water: Bring the biggest bottle that you can fit in your bag. Water can also be used to clean wounds and flush the eyes of anyone who’s been hit with chemical gas or pepper spray.

A hat/sunglasses: Apart from blocking the sun, these could make your face unclear to surveillance devices. Keep your hat’s brim low.

A face mask or bandana: Protect yourself from corona, as well as police surveillance. Also carry a hand sanitizer.

Cash: Bring a bit more cash than you think you’ll need. You might be isolated at an ATM which can be dangerous, and it’s easier for authorities to track your movements when you use debit cards. Separate your cash, keep some in your pockets, shoes, bags, etc.

Emergency Information: Write some numbers you would want contacted in the case of an emergency, as well as basic medical information like your blood group, and existing conditions like asthma.

IF

You’re Exposed to Tear Gas

It’s important to remain calm, quickly exit the area of smoke, breathe slowly and evenly, and move to higher ground if you can. The next thing to do would be to flush your eyes with water or water-based solutions. Protesters in America used a mixture of a teaspoon of baking soda for every 8.5 ounces of water. Blinking rapidly also helps flush the eyes. Milk is less effective and can cause infections in the eyes. Blow your nose and spit, then change your clothes as soon as you can. Take a shower as soon as possible with cold water.

You see a woman being sexually assaulted

In the heat of these protests it’s honestly a shame to hear that women are being sexually assaulted by fellow protesters. I would say I’m surprised, but that would be a lie considering I know Nigerian men. If you see a woman being sexually assaulted in your protest, swiftly call attention to the assaulter so he can be named, shamed and ostracized from other protest groups. I’m not preaching violence, but if you want to have a swing or two at him I won’t stop you.

If you’re a woman who experiences someone touching you inappropriately, I’ve linked some videos to simple self-defense actions that may help you at the moment.

We see you, we love you, stay safe.

Caught By The Police

If you’re caught by the police, arrested and asked to write a statement – here’s what to write to help the lawyers who’ll get you out.

I was arrested at the…. (place of arrest) for engaging in a peaceful demonstration against police brutality, the police then descended on us, without just cause, injuring many and arresting as many of us as they can. I did not in any way disturb public peace.”

Nasir Ahmed Achile

Philosophy nut. I recommend Albert Camus, Eckhart Tolle and bell hooks to everyone I know.

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