How To Behave During a Protest

The people of Russia are taking to the streets to protest the egregiously fraudulent elections to the Russian Parliament. I found a set of suggestions on how to organize a peaceful protest on one of the websites of the bloggers who will participate in the protests and decided to translate it. I think it contains some very useful tips for protesters. I adapted it somewhat, too, by getting rid of very specifically Russian realities:

  1. Always leave a space of a stretched arm between yourself and other protesters. Don’t move too close to each other. A crowd where people stand very closely to one another will not be able to maneuver itself as easily and will eventually become dangerous to the protesters.
  2. Protests are very demanding physically. If you have health issues, it is best to avoid slowing down other protesters with them. Stay at home and provide informational support through online activities from there.
  3. A crowd can easily become too engulfed in emotions. Remember that crowd enthusiasms are volatile, dangerous, and unproductive. Remain calm and in control of your emotions at all times. You will only be taken seriously by authorities if you don’t allow hysteria to overtake you. The point of the protest is not to unburden yourself psychologically. It is, rather, to demand change from the authorities.
  4. Think of those who are there with you. Take care of your fellow protesters.
  5. Think about how your behavior during the protests will look to others. Everything is recorded and televised nowadays. Remember that it will be very easy for hostile reporters to present you as unhinged and crazy if you offer them the smallest opportunity to do so.
  6. Avoid antagonizing the police officers. Doing so is always a losing strategy. Try being as friendly as you can with the representatives of the law. Remember that it is much harder to hit or pepper-spray a person with whom you’ve just been chatting about the weather or sharing a cigarette. If at all possible, talk to the police calmly. Try to attract the officers to your side.

    Today's Protests in Russia

  7. There are likely to be provocateurs at the protests. Their goal is to make protesters look like aggressive people who are set at disturbing the peaceful life of other citizens. If there are just two provocateurs with anti-Semitic slogans, they will most surely end up being filmed and will forever be associated with your protest. Make sure that your verbal disagreement with the provocateurs is as visible as possible.
  8. All of your demands should be legal and realistic. Avoid making threats aimed at specific individuals. Avoid calls to armed action.
  9. Civil freedoms take a long time to be gained and then need to be preserved by constant efforts. Don’t expect to achieve anything fast. This will be a very long journey.

And from me personally: the weather is getting colder. Remember to put on warm underpants. A long-sleeved warm shirt gets tucked into the underpants and the underpants should get tucked into warm socks.

I wish the Russian protesters the best of luck in their struggle. I hear that already over 800 people have been arrested in Moscow and St. Petersbourg for participating in the peaceful protests. As tragic as it is, this is also a good sign, a sign that the people of Russia have had enough of being lied to and treated like garbage by their authorities.

I hope that the peaceful Russian Revolution of 2011 succeeds in removing the Party of Crooks and Thieves (United Russia) from power. Russia is a great country whose people deserve better than being governed by this bunch of vile criminals.

P.S. 632305222316434 Those who know, know what I mean.

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9 comments on “How To Behave During a Protest

  1. These are excellent suggestions. I am so pleased that Russians are beginning to exert themselves for freedom. For far too long they have been passive, allowing Putin and his thugs to control their lives.

  2. For protests planned to occur at a specific event, one can do a lot to help the protest run well. I have done this on a small scale (USA suburb). In addition to one or two early planning session moderators, some of the ingredients were:

    1. transportation and parking logistics planner
    2. security chief (an experienced protester who has participated in security at other protests), qualified in non-violent technique and capable of teaching non-violent technique to a less experienced security crew. “Uniformed” (labeled colored hat, t-shirt, or pinney) security crew manages the crowd for safety (avoid tight packing, spilling into high-traffic/live wire areas, etc) and distracts the protesting hot-heads.
    3. media manager: to provide interviewable people at a predictable location
    4. graphics manager: to provide pre-made printed posters or have “poster parties” before the event (that was my role – I cornered the local market for 1″ wide magic markers that week)
    5. negotiators for pre-protest meetings with outside people. It is good to have a legally knowledgeable person willing to be a backup.
    6. first aid station manager: person, preferably with nursing or EMT knowledge, who has a cell phone and is willing to staff a spot away from the crowd (and accessible to ambulance) for the exhausted, dehydrated, etc.
    7. Set-up, catering, materiel, take-down/trash manager: Hire the porta-potties and make sure they are in place on time. Get the water and hot tea/coffee to the first aid station, get the station tent pitched in the first place, etc.
    8. on-site orientation staff manager: staff helps protesters who have questions, need premade posters, where’s the loo?
    and, most essential
    9. overall on-site operations boss(es): deal with unexpected problems.

    The police knew of the event ahead of time, and were reassured by the degree of organization and politeness exhibited.

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