protest resources

Protest Health: Stay Safe, Stay Dangerous

Heading to the streets? Be prepared, and know what to do for protest health and safety! When you bring what you need and you’re ready to take care of yourself, you’ll be able to care for others too. 

Here are a few basic suggestions for every protester: 

  • Bring your own gear and be prepared for what is likely to happen. Closed-toed, solid walking shoes, and plenty of water for yourself are the basic supplies for any protest. If there’s a possibility of police violence, then bring goggles that seal, a mask that seals, a helmet, and extra layers of clothing so you can remove your outer layer if you’re hit by tear gas. 
  • Decide ahead of time what you want to do and how you can be useful. Maybe you just want to stay out till 9 pm and hold a sign and chant and not leave til 9 even if you’re scared. Maybe you want to bring extra water for everyone. Maybe you want to bring lots of sharpies and tell people the jail support number to write on their arm. But don’t just be a tourist. Don’t just go for the experience. Think about how you can be useful. More bodies in the streets are always useful, as long as you move where people are needed. 
  • Never, ever, ever, ever talk to cops. It’s great to yell/chant at cops along with the crowd. But never have a conversation with a cop. They are trained to get information without you realizing they’re doing it, and anything you say could be used to harm you or other protestors. It doesn’t matter if you tell the truth; the cops are trained to twist the truth to make people look guilty. Unless you are a trained police liaison and have been asked to fill that role for this protest, don’t talk to cops. 
  • Try not to run unless you really have to. When some people are running, others get scared. It spreads panic. And it makes you more likely to trip. If cops are advancing, you can move away more effectively by walking quickly.  
  • Don’t pick up tear gas canisters to throw them back with your bare hands or with regular gloves, they’re literally on fire. They can be picked up safely with welding gloves or similar fireproof protection. 
  • Practice situational awareness. Pay attention to what’s happening on all sides, all the time, and think about what it could mean. Share information with people around about things you observe. But….
  • Do not spread rumors or make definite predictions! It’s great to share confirmed information. So, if you see cops putting on their gas masks, do tell everyone around you, “Hey, the cops are putting on their gas masks” (and put yours on too!). But don’t say “ohmygod the cops are about to tear gas and trap us!!!!” because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And don’t spread rumors about stuff you hear, like “The cops are massing around the corner and they’re about to arrest all of us!!!” Even if you saw a group of cops assembling around the corner, only report what you saw: “There are about 100 cops in riot gear forming a line blocking the cross street around the corner.” Let people draw their own inferences from facts, not rumors. 
  • Don’t tell people what to do. You’re not in charge. Share information and offer resources. Respect the autonomy of other protesters. 
  • Bring a buddy. Always have a buddy. Never lose your buddy. If things get chaotic and everybody starts running, it’s smart to hold hands with your buddy so you stay together. 
  • Don’t pour antacid, baking soda, milk, milk of magnesia, or any other weird solutions into the eyes of someone who’s been tear gassed. Chemical reactions in eyes are a bad idea. Particulates in eyes are also a bad idea. Just water or saline in eyes, nothing else. Water is cheapest, most multi-purpose, and easiest to carry! 

Protest Health & Safety Resources 

Stay Healthy So You Can Stay In The Streets
A simple handout created by the BALM Squad with basic things to know before going for protest health and safety.

Staying Healthy for Civil Disobedience Actions
How to prepare for arrests and things to consider prior to engaging in civil disobedience. Created by the BALM Squad.

Safety During Protest
A quick printable guide to basic protest health and safety from Amnesty International. 

Know Your Rights
Your rights as a protester, from organizing to what to do if you’re detained by police. ACLU guide. 

Shit! We’re Going to Get Arrested!
A list of things to do to prepare for being arrested at a protest or other action. This condensed version of the “Staying Healthy for Civil Disobedience Actions” sheet is a quick reference for use when it looks like you and your friends are about to be arrested. Created by the BALM Squad.

community health

Community Health Resources

Providing first aid support at protests is just one part of our work as street medics. One of our core values is to resist hierarchy and oppression, and the inaccessibility of health resources is a core aspect of existing oppressive structures. As street medics, we support and create community health initiatives to make healthcare (including both western and traditional medicine) more available to everyone who needs it. 

Want to get involved in our ongoing work for community health? Contact us to come to a meeting to learn about our nascent and growing projects. Or get involved with one of the grassroots community health projects that we admire and support: 

Atlanta Community Health Projects

Herbalista Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic
The foot clinic provides herbal foot care to people experiencing homelessness in Atlanta. It has thrived for many years, and several ARM members serve regularly as “footsters.” 

Apocalypse Training Collective  
The ATC is a queer- and trans-led skillshare collective that teaches skills for “surviving and thriving in apocalyptic times.”  

Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition 
The Harm Reduction Coalition provides resources to reduce the impact of STIs and substance use through programs like needle exchange, Narcan distribution, and STI testing. 

General Resources for Community Health

Where There Is No Doctor
The most widely-used health care manual for health workers, educators, and others involved in primary health care delivery and health promotion programs around the world.

Where Women Have No Doctor
An essential resource for any woman or health worker who wants to improve her health and the health of her community, and for anyone to learn about problems that affect women differently from men. Topics include reproductive health, concerns of girls and older women, violence, mental health, and more.

A Community Guide to Environmental Health
This guide contains information, activities, stories, and instructions for simple technologies that help health promoters, environmental activists, and community leaders take charge of their environmental health.

Sanitation and Cleanliness
This chapter from A Community Guide to Environmental Health, available as a 48-page booklet, offers basic information on toilet building as well as learning activities to help communities understand and prevent sanitation-related health problems.

Water for Life
This chapter from A Community Guide to Environmental Health, available as a 48-page booklet, helps communities improve drinking water sources, treat water to make it safe for drinking, and organize water projects to protect access to clean water.

A Book for Midwives
A vital resource for practicing midwives and midwifery training programs around the world, this book covers the essentials of care before, during, and after birth. It has been updated to reflect new WHO/UNICEF guidelines and standards for mothers and newborns.

Where There Is No Dentist
This basic dental manual uses straightforward language and step-by-step instructions to discuss preventive care of teeth and gums, diagnosing and treating common dental problems, and includes a special chapter on oral health and HIV.

Helping Health Workers Learn
An indispensable resource for health educators, this book shows – with hundreds of methods, aids and learning strategies – how to make health education engaging and effective, and how to encourage community involvement through participatory education.

Disabled Village Children
This manual contains a wealth of clear and detailed information along with easy-to-implement strategies for all who are concerned about the well being of children with disabilities, especially those living in communities with limited resources.

A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities
Developed with the participation of women with disabilities in 42 countries, this guide helps women to overcome the barriers of social stigma and inadequate care to improve their general health, self-esteem, and independence as active members of their communities.

Helping Children Who Are Deaf
This groundbreaking book, packed with activities on how to foster language learning through both sign and oral approaches, supports parents and other caregivers in building the communication skills of babies and young children.

Helping Children Who Are Blind
The simple and engaging activities in this book can help parents, caregivers, teachers, health workers, rehabilitation workers, and others help a child with vision problems develop all of his or her capabilities.