SO YOU WANT TO ORGANIZE A PROTEST

Get help: It is possible to organize a protest on your own, but most people work in small groups. Find some likeminded people (most people start with a friend or someone else affected by the issue) and start discussing plans.

Pick your target: Make sure you know what you’re protesting. It will make it easier to communicate with people and convince them to attend. If you’re taking on a big, somewhat abstract cause (such as healthcare, for example), picking a target will help you focus and be more effective.

Pick your location: Once you know your target, the location of the protest becomes clearer. People protesting a city policy often demonstrate right outside of a city council meeting, right before the meeting starts. Other times the visibility of a busy street makes sense. Regardless, you’ll need to communicate to people where to meet.

Plan the protest: If it’s your first time organizing a protest, it’s probably best to keep it simple. Plan a rally, make some signs, and invite people to come. Adding a march or speakers can quickly complicate things, but if you want to include either, plan those as well. The more planning you’re able to put into your protest, the more likely it is to be successful.

Spread the word: People often spread the word about protests on Facebook, with fliers, by reaching out to related organizations or the media and by making announcements at other events. Your approach may depend on how much time you have and how much you want to be personally identified with the event. For example, if you are concerned about repercussions at work, a public Facebook event connected to your real name might be a bad idea.

Consider different scenarios: If the media shows up, who is going to talk to them? What if a guest speaker won’t stop rambling? What if there are counter protesters? If someone is arrested, will people be ready to wait for them outside of the jail? You can’t plan for every scenario and these possibilities shouldn’t stop you from planning your protest, but considering various scenarios can help you be ready.

Plan next steps: Your protest is over — what happens now? Activists typically want to sustain pressure on an issue or involvement of people they mobilized. Maybe they want people to sign up to join an organization, or show up at the next city council meeting. The time to plan for what happens when the protest ends is before it starts, so that you have your petition, sign-up sheet and call to action in place at the protest itself.

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