Quick Protest Planning: 10 Easy Steps

Quick Protest Planning: 10 Easy Steps
by Sue Basko

Need to put on a protest really soon?  If so, quick protest planning is for you.

1) Pick a Topic.  You can be for something, against something, or informative/ educational.

2) Pick a place.   It must be “the public way,” meaning a public sidewalk or publicly-owned plaza that is not part of a park.  If you are staying within the public way and not in any way interfering with the flow of vehicle or pedestrian traffic, you should not need a permit.

3) Pick a day and time.  The best bet for a quick-planned protest is to pick an afternoon time slot of 2 hours, on whatever day of the week you think people will come.   You have to be there the whole time, but attendees will come and go.  

4) Invite people.  Set up an events page on Facebook.  Tweet it on twitter.  Make a website or blog about it.   Post about it in logical places.  Put ads on Craigslist under "events" and "politics."

5) Make signs.  Nowadays, most  protest signs must be hand-held, because sticks of any size are not allowed.  That means a sign should be no larger than 18 inches by 24 inches, so a person can easily hold it.   Many protests hold a sign-making party before the protest. Some protest organizers print up signs to provide to attendees who did not bring their own signs.  If sign sticks are allowed, if you limit them to the length and width and thickness of a wooden measuring yardstick, you should be fine. 

6) Find out if you can use a loudspeaker or megaphone.  Check the municipal ordinances for sections on noise, sound, amplification, etc.  If you can use one, try to get one.  If you cannot use one, plan to use call-and-response.  Make up some easy call-and-response chants.

7) Decide how you want to run the protest.  Will there be speakers?  Will people lead the protesters in call-and-response?  Will you walk on the sidewalk to someplace?   Will there be music? (Invite acoustic musicians.)   Plan an agenda of what happens when, where, by whom, and how.  Write it down.  Stick to it.  Give copies of the agenda to many key people so they also know what is happening.

8) Get people to help.  Assign some people to be crossing guards or to keep protesters on the sidewalk.  Get people to commit to speak, to flyer, to clean up. Invite acoustic musicians.

9) Last Minute Preparations: Keep reminding people about the event.  Try to get a certain number of people to commit to coming.  Prepare what you will bring:  Sound system, signs, trash bags for clean-up, possibly flyers.

10) On the day of the protest, show up a little early to greet early arrivals.  Start off slowly, since most people will arrive late.  Run the protest.  End on time.

And don't forget: > Clean up.  Pick up all flyers, water bottles, or other trash.  

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