Don't Attend a Protest Without Taking These Essentials With You
As the events that unfolded in Ferguson begin to fade away from the
news cycle, we should stop and take a good look around at own
communities, because the militarization of the police is no isolated
incident. For many years, towns and cities across America have been
facing this growing threat within their political offices and police
departments. We should ask ourselves, how far are we willing to go to
secure our rights? If the police and bureaucrats in your community begin
to overstep their bounds, would you take your outrage to the streets?
you ever decide to engage in a peaceful protest for any reason, you
should entertain the possibility that it may become violent at any time.
Perhaps the police will overreact, or opportunistic criminals may use
the protest as cover to loot stores and private residences. No matter
who is at fault, a decent protest can turn ugly on a dime. If this
occurs, there's a few things you don't want to leave your home without.
matter what time of the year it is, you should always wear long sleeves
and long pants to a protest. It seems like every image I see of a
protest in the U.S. contains at least one person who looks like they're
dressed for a picnic. If the police decide to fire off their tear gas,
you'll immediately regret your decision to wear your short shorts to the
picket line. Tear gas isn't just an eye and mouth irritant, but a skin
irritant as well, and a good pair of jeans with a long sleeve shirt will
provide a decent barrier between you and the gas.
If it's hot
out, suck it up, wear cotton, and bring more water because there isn't
really any other way around this. Being exposed to tear gas is a lot
like getting a sunburn. While the pain in your eyes and mouth will
normally subside within an hour or two, your skin may still burn for
several days. Also, be sure and bring an extra t-shirt to change into.
Tear gas can really cling to clothing, and continue to burn you until
you find a new set of clothes.
Being fully dressed will also have
the added benefit of protecting you from the sun, which you'll need
because you probably don't want to wear sunscreen. Any oil based lotion
or sunscreen will trap the tear gas and adhere it to your skin, making
it extremely difficult to remove. If you must use sunscreen, find a
water based product rather than the typical oil based sunscreens.
gas, also known as tear gas, isn't actually a gas at all. It's usually
either an aerosol containing very fine particles of a volatile solvent,
or a concentrated form of capsaicin. While you can buy a gas mask and a
filter specifically designed for tear gas, these tend to be pretty
pricey. Most standard respirators you find at the hardware store will
successfully filter out tear gas. Look for anything that is rated N100,
which means it will filter out nearly 100 percent of any particulate
matter in the air.
I would actually advise against buying a full
blown gas mask for a protest. In my experience, the eyepiece will give
you poor peripheral vision, and they tend to fog up, so you'll want your
eye and lung protection to be separate pieces. They will also make the
simple act of breathing very difficult, so any simple activity (like
running for your life) will be absolutely exhausting
gas masks will have you standing out from the crowd. I suspect that when
riot cops see someone wearing a military style gas mask (which are also
pretty intimidating), they see that person as a “veteran” protester and
an agitator. It may be a better idea to buy something a little more
innocuous like a disposable respirator.
a separate pair of goggles will be an essential addition to your
respirator. You'll want something that can quickly and easily give you a
perfect seal around your eyes, like swimming goggles. Modern swim gear
also has the added advantage of having great peripheral vision and
anti-fogging treatments. If you suspect the police will use rubber
bullets, you may also want to opt for shatterproof goggles. Whatever you
do though, DO NOT wear contact lenses to a protest, or at least take
them out if things start going south. They have a tendency to collect
and trap the irritants in tear gas, and may even cause blindness.
seems to be a lot of different opinions on how to treat an exposure to
tear gas, so it's difficult to judge what works best. One treatment that
seems to be very consistent and popular, is a 50/50 mix of Maalox and
water. Having a little spray bottle of this can be used to relieve the
burning sensation in your eyes and mouth.
As for physical
injuries, a first aid kit would be an obvious choice, but you'll want
something specific to the injuries you may face in a riot. Bring some
tampons or a maxi pad in case you receive an open wound from a rubber
bullet or baton. The absorptive qualities of these feminine products
work wonders on serious injuries, and can quickly stop the bleeding.
the goggles should work to protect your eyes from gas and rubber
bullets, there are several more spots on your body you should keep in
mind. Although cops are trained to aim for the torso with rubber
bullets, these projectiles are also inherently inaccurate, so they can
end up landing in the more vulnerable parts of your body.
protect your head, something like a hard hat used in construction should
work well. Personally, I'd probably take a bicycle helmet, for the same
reason I wouldn't wear a gas mask. It's a pretty innocuous object that
wouldn't look out of place, and you can strap it to your backpack or
purse for safe keeping. Just don't be the guy walking around in an army
helmet. You'll stand out to the cops in a really bad way.
is another extremely vulnerable region that you'll want to consider. A
rubber bullet to the jugular could feasibly rupture a vein or crush your
windpipe (the more I talk about this, the more I wonder if rubber
bullets should be considered “non-lethal”) so you may want to buy one of
the neck guards that are used by hockey players. Many of these are very
small, and easy to stow away in a backpack.
And guys? don't leave home without an athletic cup.
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