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Protest is one of the most powerful tools for changing our world. But protest can also be very dangerous. Especially for people of color who continue to face intentional targeting and violence at the hands of police. If you’re planning to join a protest, be sure it aligns with your values. Ask yourself whether it centers those most harmed by the issue, how they plan to organize, and whether its leaders prioritize nonviolence and have experience with de-escalation strategies. This will help ensure your safety.

The most effective protests are those that are strategic, nonviolent, and communicate their demands clearly. The NFL protests are a great example of this. They are clear in their message, they use a symbol that is easily recognizable, and they make it clear what change they’re calling for.

In addition, they’re not alone. There’s a whole movement taking place around the country that is calling for change, and it has sparked other protests as well. Many of these movements are being led by women, young people, and people of color. This shows that our country’s long history of inequality is still present and needs to be addressed.

While most protests don’t turn violent, it’s important to understand that they can. Especially for those who are part of marginalized groups, it’s very easy for their anger and frustration to lead them into dangerous territory. As we saw with the recent violence in Charlottesville, even a protest intended to be peaceful can spiral out of control. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for anything.

If you’re planning to attend a protest, be sure to bring water and snacks to keep your energy up throughout the event. It’s also a good idea to bring a small first aid kit in case of any minor injuries. Most importantly, be sure to bring a buddy. It’s always safer to be in a group of like-minded people, and having a partner can help you alert others if you’re being threatened or harmed. It can also be helpful to document any instances of police brutality or other violations of your rights.

Before you join a protest, be sure to research the organization that is hosting it. Make sure that they represent your values, have a good track record of past protests, and that their leadership is experienced in organizing safe events. It’s also important to remember that protesting is a privilege not everyone has access to. For some, it’s impossible to gather in a group due to health vulnerabilities or family obligations. Others face unique dangers in their communities because of their race or immigration status, which makes it unsafe to risk a run-in with police. If you’re unable to gather in person, use social media to find fellow activists and sign up for local protests in your area. You can also hand out flyers about upcoming events and collect email addresses with the promise of future action. This is a great way to build a support network and increase your impact.