We live in frightening times, and we need to stick together if we’re going to get through them. In my previous article I mentioned joining the protestors and helping stand up against the injustices happening around us. Sadly, many of us (including myself) can’t bring themselves to hit the streets. It’s okay, whatever the reason: physical health, emotional issues, even just plain being afraid. There’s no shame in not being able to do something you literally can’t do. But even if you can’t march, there’s still a lot you can do to help out.
Show Your Support
Let protestors know they’re being heard. Honk your horn, join in their shouts of defiance, raise your fist in solidarity. It may seem like a small thing, but letting them know their message is being heard can be a huge morale booster.
Keep the Conversation Going on Social Media
Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, whatever your social media platform of choice, I’m sure the protests are dominating your feed. That’s good, we want as many people to be aware of what’s happening as possible. But that also means there’s going to be a lot of people trying to deflect, distract, or place false blame. Don’t let them. This is about generations of systemic injustice. This is about how those in power are willing to let us fight and die rather than give up a little bit of power. Do not let anyone forget that.
This will vary depending on where you are, but at least in Portland, I have yet to encounter protestors that aren’t appreciative of snacks and cold drinks. High energy munchies like candy and protein bars seem to be preferred, but again, check with the protestors in your area.
Water is always needed. With the police in many areas using chemical agents (tear gas, pepper spray, etc) bottled water can not only hydrate, but also be used to wash out chemical irritants.
Give Protective Gear
Since the police (and even the National Guard in some areas) are responding with violence (“non-lethal” violence is still violence) protestors are going to need better protective gear. Hard hats, helmets, and the like can help protect against at least some aggression. Similarly, things like safety goggles, leak proof swim googles, and masks or respirators help protect at least a little bit against tear gas. Umbrellas can be used to slow down certain projectiles and deflect pepper spray. Finally, with flash bangs being deployed, things like ear plugs are going to be needed. Bear in mind none of this will truly STOP the damage, but even a little protection can save someone’s life.
Offer Safety and Shelter
Again, authorities are using violence to break up protests and that means many protestors are going to be left, injured, dazed, and exhausted. If you see someone clearly in need of help, help them. Take them to the hospital, or failing that, give them a safe place to rest and recuperate.
Information is going to be key to keeping this movement going. There are going to be plenty of instances of authorities instigating and perpetuating violence. Record them, and post them wherever and whenever you can. We need to build an undeniable body of proof against those that are trying to take away our rights. If you’re worried about the safety of your friends and family I suggest using data encryption software. Personally, I use Signal.
Donate to, or Volunteer at Civil Rights Organizations
Marching in the streets is just half of what needs to be done. The other half is legal battles, and pushing forward legislation that will change the fundamental system that allows atrocities to happen over and over to its citizens. There are organizations that are doing just that, and have been for a long time. They need your help more than ever. Personally, I donate to the ACLU:
But a quick web search will bring up countless similar organizations that need your help.
Don’t forget to look into local branches and organizations. If you live in Oregon here are two of the best I’ve had the pleasure of working with:
Contact Your Elected Officials
Remember, elected officials WORK FOR US! They are the employees of the public, not the other way around. Call, write, email, or demand a meeting to let them know that what is happening is unacceptable. The constant escalation by the police is unacceptable, and that ultimately they will be held responsible for the outcomes of these events.
Don’t Give Up
It can be disheartening to watch people go out and try to change the world while you’re stuck at home. Don’t be. Those who stand up for equality need our support to keep them standing. Together, we can change the world for the better.