600-plus Protest Marches Planned in U.S., More Globally: Here’s a Survival Guide
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This Saturday, the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency will probably not go as smoothly as he would like. Thanks to the repeated attacks and threats on women's rights — from sexual assault to equal pay to abortion — during his vitriolic election campaign, more than 200,000 people are expected to reign down on the U.S. Nation's capital for the Women's March on Washington in peaceful protest.
And they won't be alone: the womensmarch.com website list 616 additional marches that will take place around the U.S., with an estimated 1.364 million people gathering in symbolic support.
This movement — read the full mission statement here — also isn't restricted to U.S. borders: Jan. 21 marches are also being organized in London, India, Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, Australia, Scandinavia and many other global cities, countries and territories. Find your march here.
The grassroots Washington event — which begins at 10 a.m., with the march starting at 1:15 p.m. — will feature speeches and performances by advocates, artists, entrepreneurs, entertainers and thought leaders.
Confirmed performers so far include Janelle Monae, Maxwell, Angelique Kidjo, Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Indigo Girls, MC Lyte, Samantha Ronson, Toshi Reagon and Emily Wells. Fiona Apple has written an anthem for the event called "Tiny Hands."
Since there is an aura of uncertainty surrounding the Trump presidency and how he might react, the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia has provided a checklist of how to be prepared in case something goes awry.
1) The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech and the right of people peaceably to assemble, so there is a constitutional right to demonstrate.
2) Know the Territory: DC has four quadrants: NW, NE, SE and SW, that meet at the Capitol. Pay attention to your quadrant.
3) Get a permit, which alerts police to your intention and also reserves your location.
4) Prepare to Encounter Law Enforcement. Carry $100 cash and three days' worth of essential medication. If you have children, make emergency childcare plans. Write numbers for your family, your lawyer and jail support on your arm. The National Lawyers Guild inauguration jail support line is 202-670-6866.
5) If you're not a U.S. citizen, know your immigration number and carry a passport.
6) If you're undocumented, under court supervision or have a record, think twice - as consequences of arrest can be worse than most other people.
7) If you are someone with a disability, special medical needs or speak limited English, carry a card that explains your situation.
8) Gender non-conforming: have an accurate driver's license.
9) Know D.C.'s many police agencies. Local ones include D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and Metro Transit Police. Federal police include Park Police, Federal Protective Service, Capitol Police and Secret Service.
10) Backpacks, bags and purses may be subject to search at the March. Backpacks must be clear and no larger than 17" x 12" x 6" to be permitted. Marchers who have special medical needs or mothers who need baby bags or breast pumps must store in them in the clear backpack.
11) Bags/totes/purses for small personal items should be no larger than 8"x 6"x 4".
12) Each marcher is permitted one additional 12" x 12" x 6" plastic or gallon bag to carry meals.
13) Small strollers are allowed and recommended.
14) Don't bring anything that can be misconstrued as a weapon.
15) Dress warmly.
If you interact with police, do:
1) Keep your hands in plain view.
2) Feel free to videotape officers, as long as you don't interfere with them.
3) Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer replies yes, then calmly and silently walk away.
4) If being questioned - do say, "I wish to remain silent" and do try to memorize the officer's badge number.
5) Show your immigration papers if asked by an immigration agent.
6) Say "I do not consent to this search" if police try to search you, your car and your belongings.
7) Exercise the Fifth Amendment: stay silent except for requesting a lawyer.
8) Give your name and address if asked.
9) Know that police can lie to you.
1) Make sudden movements or point at the officers
2) Touch the officers or their equipment
3) Yell or escalate the situation
4) Reveal anything other than your name and address
5) Divulge information if the police have made a promise to you.
6) Lie or provide fake documents to police
7) Discuss your immigration status.
8) Resist a search or a struggle; you could be charged with assault
9) Give explanations or excuses
If you're arrested, booking may happen at the local precinct, Park Police headquarters or the Capitol. Those arrested will either be cited (given a court date) and released; allowed to post and forfeit (case will be dropped; arrest will remain on record with no conviction) with a cost ranging from USD $25 to $100 for demonstration-related offences; or one will be detained at the Central Cell Block until brought to court.
If you sign papers, read them all carefully and ask for an interpreter if needed. Don't write or sign a confession or a waiver of rights. If you are given a waiver card, check the box that says you will not answer questions without a lawyer. You will only be allowed a phone call if you are held overnight. Prosecutors will decide whether to charge you or no-paper the case and let you go during regular business hours.
If you are detained, a pretrial services interview will be conducted by the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency or Court Social Services. The interview is voluntary but not confidential. Don't talk about any unlawful activity, the incident or your arrest. The judge will use the interview to decide how soon you'll be released.
If you're arraigned, you will learn the charges filed against you, whether you'll be released, or when your next court appearance is due. A lawyer will be present to help and you will enter a plea. You may be assigned a lawyer to help moving forward.
If you're not a U.S. citizen, ask your lawyer about the effects of a conviction on your immigration status.
The judge will either release you or set a date for your next hearing and government may seek an order barring you from your arrest location.
If you're arrested on Saturday, you will be arraigned on Monday.
If your rights have been violated, record the incident on your phone and write down what you can - badge and patrol car numbers; the officers' corresponding agency and contact info for witnesses. Take photos of any injuries, seek medical attention, keep all paperwork and medical treatment receipts and file a written complaint with the agency's internal affairs division or civil complaint board. And speak to an attorney for additional help.
The other thing you should protect is any electronic devices you have to record the historic event.
Protect your phone before you protest: Considering your phone contains a wealth of private data - including your list of contacts, text messages, e-mail, photos, video, GPS location data, your web browsing history and stored passwords, you need to be aware that the United States Supreme Court held that police are required to obtain a warrant to acquire this information.
The limits of the ruling are still being examined, but if the police seize a phone because they think it contains evidence of a crime, the warrant can be issued after the seizure.
It is recommended that to protect your rights, you may want to bring a throwaway or alternate phone to the protest that does not contain sensitive data and that you wouldn't mind parting with.
If you do insist on bringing your phone, ensure that it's password-protected. Both iPhone and Android provide options for full-disk encryption on their operating systems.
Also back up your data, especially if your device is confiscated by a police officer. You may not get the phone back. Write an important non-incriminating phone number on your body with magic marker in case your phone becomes lost, but you're permitted to make a call.
To avoid cell site location information, the EFF recommends that if you have to bring a mobile phone, bring one not registered in your name.
If you end up being detained, you may not be able to make a call for a certain period of time. So plan a pre-arranged call for after the protest with a friend. They can assume you've been arrested if they don't hear from you.
Once you're at the protest, maintain control over your phone. Either keep your phone on you or hand it over to a trusted friend if you're engaging in something you think might get you arrested.
Taking pictures and recording audio and video may be enough to discourage police misconduct during the protest. If you want to keep your identity secret, strip all the metadata off your photos prior to posting them on social media.
Photos or video - especially if they're recorded by your phone - may be seized by police as evidence. You might be able to retain your property by claiming Reporter's Privilege, but that doesn't apply to all states.
Should the police ask to see your phone, tell them that you did not consent to the search of your device. You should also refuse any police request for the password to your electronic device. And if they ask if the phone is yours, tell them it's lawfully in your possession, without admitting or denying ownership.
Enabling these refusals to comply could compel law enforcement to hold you in jail if they think you're refuse to co-operate.
So adhere to the tips above and stay safe.
* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.