Safety Tips for Protesters

Black Lives Matter sign

If you are planning to protest, you can follow these tips to reduce harm and the spread of COVID-19.

Before Protesting

  • Consider who is in your household and their health. Do not risk exposing them to COVID-19, especially if they are at higher risk complications.
  • Use the buddy system and ask a friend to go with you.
  • Let someone you trust know where you are going.
  • Learn your rights when it comes to getting stopped by police.
  • Check out Protests and Demonstrations at U-M from the Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS).
  •  Items to bring:

    • Water (consider bringing bottles with sports caps to help flush eyes if there is exposure to tear gas)
    • Sunglasses
    • Mask
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Tissues
    •  First aid kit
    • Snacks
    • Hat to protect from the sun and help cover your face
  • Do not bring alcohol, cannabis or cannabis products, or other drugs.
  • Consider dressing in long sleeves (or bring an outer layer) and wear pants to protect your skin from chemical agents such as tear gas or pepper spray.
  • Wear comfortable, protective shoes.
  • Do not wear contact lenses, eye makeup or jewelry.
  • Fully charge your phone, and consider bringing an extra battery pack and charger.
  • Write two emergency contacts with telephone numbers directly onto your hand or arm with permanent marker in case you are arrested.
  • Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Nourish your body with the food you have available to you, stay hydrated and get enough sleep. Reach out to your support system and practice self-care. 

While Protesting

  • Stay focused and aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Wear a mask and avoid touching your face.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from others to maintain physical distancing.
  • Stay hydrated by frequently drinking water.
  • Don’t shake hands, hug, share drinks or engage in long face-to-face conversations.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  • Document injuries caused by police with photos and note the time and location.
  • Turn off Face ID and Touch ID, switch to Airplane Mode and disable data.
  •  Enable a passcode on your phone.
  • Do not share any images of protesters on social media to protect their identities.
  • If your eyes exposed to pepper spray or tear gas:

    • Do not rub them; blinking and rinsing are most effective.
    • Tilt head sideways and rinse each eye with water (and diluted baby shampoo if available).
    • Do not flush with milk, because the goal is to flush, not neutralize.

After Protesting

  • Change your clothes as soon as possible, shower and disinfect your belongings.
  • Continue to take care of yourself, mentally, physically and emotionally.
  • To protect the identities of others, do not share any photos of protesters on social media.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. Contact a health care provider if symptoms develop. U-M students and other University Health Service (UHS) patients may call UHS for advice and health care at 734-764-8320. Nurse advice by phone is available day or night. 
  • U-M students in need of assistance after protesting or participating in community events can contact the Dean of Students Office at 734-764-7420 or [email protected]

These tips were adapted from Student Health and Counseling Services at University of California, Davis, from original sources including NAACP at UT Austin, Frontline Medics, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Thank you!