09 Jun What Event Professionals Want You To Know About Planning A Protest
Recently there have been protests in all fifty states. It is amazing to see so many people out and engaged in their communities. As event professionals we have experience planning protests, marches, and other activism driven events so we want to answer some questions and offer some advice.
Questions to Ask While Planning a Protest:
This is our list to help during the planning process to avoid day-of complications.
- Where will everyone park?
- Is there public transportation available nearby?
- What restroom facilities are available
- Do we need to schedule for portable toilets?
- What is the plan for trash collection and disposal?
- Should we arrange for a security or police presence?
- Do we need to make arrangements for food/water/medical?
- What is the backup plan in case of adverse weather?
- How can we encourage social-distancing?
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where Can We Hold A Protest?
- Public Property
- Private Property – With Owner’s Permission
- Sidewalks – As Long As Room Remains For Pedestrians
- Public Parks – Some Require Reservations
When Do We Need A Permit?
You need a permit if your protest meets any of the following:
- Blocks Pedestrian Traffic
- Requires Street Closures
- Has 50+ Attendees
- Has Sound Amplifying Devices (Speakers)
Some parks and plazas require reservations even though they are considered public spaces. Check with your local parks department so your protest isn’t crashed by a children’s soccer game.
What Do I Need If We Are Having Presenters?
If you are having speakers or presentations and you are expecting a large turnout, we recommend a stage and sound system. Most sound systems require an external power source, so keep that in mind when choosing a location. Generators are a great alternative if there isn’t electricity otherwise accessible, but be careful because costs can add up quickly! If you are planning on having over two hundred attendees, we highly recommend hiring a professional sound company.
Double check that you aren’t violating any noise ordinances by having sound amplifying devices. This is especially important if you are planning a protest during evening hours or at locations near residential areas. Lastly, remember that electricity and rain do not mix!
How Do We Deal With Counter-Protesters?
Occasionally people will show up to protest your protest. What do you do when these counter-protesters show up? If the protest is happening on private property, the owner can ask them to leave. If they refuse, they can be arrested for trespassing.
On public property it becomes more difficult. As long as they aren’t breaking any laws, there isn’t much you can do. The best advice we can offer is to acknowledge that they are there, but do not engage. Don’t try to argue with them or try to force them to leave as that can quickly escalate into something dangerous. Your safety needs to be your number one priority.
How Can I Help When I Am Not The Official Organizer?
Over the past weeks we have seen that protests can occur spontaneously. If you want to offer support during these events, here are some things you can do.
- Hand out water, snacks, ponchos, band-aids, sunscreen, hand-sanitizer, face masks, etc.
- Bring a bag for trash and carry it out with you when you leave
- Look up protest and public gathering laws in your area and know your rights
- Learn the indicators of heat stroke, how to treat it, and when to seek medical attention
- Learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion and when medical attention is necessary
- Research, and prepare for, tear gas or pepper spray
- Follow Up – After the protest write to the public officials involved. If possible, donate to organizations that support your cause. Continue the conversation, even after the protests are over.
In The Event is here to help effect change and help keep you and your event safe during that journey. If you have additional advice or questions you want us to answer, leave them in the comments below!