Hands up, don't shoot

A stupid-easy guide to protesting

The Basics

All would-be protestors should take note of the information in this section.
Corrections and tips appreciated! Twitter: @HUDSguide

If you think you may be on the front line or encountering police brutality, in addition to this section, check out the section for front line protestors.

What to bring
  • Water (at least two bottles)
  • Comfortable shoes you can walk/run in for hours
  • Protest signs
  • Noise makers
  • Snacks (energy bar, trail mix, nuts, etc)
  • Hat for sun and light pepper-spray protection
  • Face mask or other covering (n95 preferred)
  • Identification or emergency contact info
  • Phone numbers you'll need in case of arrest
  • Phone charger
  • A clean change of clothes in a plastic bag
  • First aid kit
  • Inhaler, if you may require one.
  • Umbrella for rain, shade, and pepper spray
  • Enough cash for food, water, and public transit
  • Several days of medication in case of arrest
  • Menstrual pads in case of arrest
  • Water or alcohol-based sunscreen
  • Watch, paper, and pen to record events
Leave at home:
  • Eye contacts
  • Loose jewelry
  • Oil-based sunscreen
  • Oil-based makeup (do not wear)
Before you go
  • Research the protest. Make sure it's legit.
  • Find a buddy to go or meet up with.
  • Buy public transit tickets ahead of time.
  • Have a plan for when cell reception fails or is jammed.
  • Plan how to re-connect with your buddy in case you are separated.
  • Stay home if you can't keep up with potentially hours of walking and standing, or plan accordingly.
  • Know your rights
Staying safe
  • Have a buddy and stay with them.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Anticipate issues and plan a way out.
  • See excellent COVID sanitation and prevention tips in this Google Doc.
  • Don't wear makeup (especially oil-based).
  • Don't wear loose clothing (protection from grabbing).
  • Wear your hair up (protection from grabbing).
  • Stay calm. Watch for panic in yourself and others. Help keep others calm.
  • Document police brutality (photo, video, notes) when safe.
  • If apprehended by police, stay calm, do not resist (US protestors: review ACLU's guidelines).
Coronavirus Considerations:
  • Take the threat seriously.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Keep your mask on. Make sure it covers your nose.
  • Keep your distance from others as much as possible.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Use a noise maker rather than yelling, which is known to readily spread the virus.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms.
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Front line Protestors

Protestors on the front line or those likely to encounter police brutality involving tear gas, pepper spray, less-lethal rounds/grenades, or physical encounters should take note of the information in this section. Even those not expecting to be on the front line may want to review this section.

Be aware that as a front line protestor, you are knowingly putting your physical safety, and possibly your life, in danger. In many cases, it may not be a choice. Be careful out there!

What to bring
This list isn't exhaustive and some items may not pertain to your situation or financial means. Bring what you need to stay safe.
  • Extra water to drink, flush out pepper spray, etc
  • Extra masks in case one becomes contaminated.
  • Emergency contact information
  • Shatter-resistant goggles
  • Wet wipes and/or tissues
  • Earplugs for loud sounds
  • Dish soap without ammonia or no-tears baby soap (to break up pepper spray)
  • A clean towel and/or paper towels
  • Clothes that cover as much skin as possible
  • Spandex/Lycra sleeves
  • Plastic rain poncho
  • Plastic bags for contaminated clothes
  • Heat-resistant gloves or tongs
  • Umbrella to deflect pepper spray or thrown objects
  • A helmet
  • Gas mask (respirator) or N95 mask
Leave at home:
  • Personal phone (if going anonymously)
  • Identification and credit/cash cards (if going anonymously)
Before you go

Set up an emergency contact:

  • Put your medical and personal info and emergency contact list in a sealed envelope. Write your name or pseudonym on the outside.
  • Leave the envelope with a trusted contact who will not be at the protest.
  • Instruct the contact to open the envelope only in the event of your arrest or if you do not pick up the envelope.
  • Pick up the envelope after the protest.

Other stuff:

  • Plan what you'll do in the event you and/or your buddy are arrested.
  • Buy public transit tickets with cash.
  • Review your first aid skills (see the first aid section)
  • Take steps to stay anonymous, if you like.
Staying safe
  • Stay vigilent and always be aware of your surroundings.
  • If apprehended by police, stay calm, do not resist (US protestors: review ACLU's guidelines).
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Supporting Protestors

Supporting activists provide on-the-ground protestors with support either in person or from home.

On the Ground Support

Deliver and hand out supplies:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Paper towels
  • Fans
  • Shade
  • Stuff to make signs


  • Give people rides to/from the protest
  • Provide first aid (if trained)
At Home Support
  • Be a protestor's emergency contact.
  • Bail someone out of jail.
  • Provide a shelter for protestors in danger
  • Create art
  • Cook a meal for a protestor.
  • Volunteer to babysit
  • Get the word out about upcoming protests.
  • Monitor police scanners and live feeds.
  • Relay important information to protesters.
  • Contact public officials.
  • Donate supplies.
  • Donate to groups supporting the cause.
  • Get creative: donate your personal or professional skills
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First aid

The information contained in this section is not professional medical advice! This is last-ditch, very simplified basic advice gathered from around the web. Please follow the links for more detailed information! If you are helping someone in need of emergency medical assistance, call 911 and try to get the attention of a person with medical training ("MEDIC!") while attending to the victim's immediate needs.

Pepper Spray


  • Wear shatter-resistant goggles
  • Wear a scarf
  • Wear a bandana soaked in water
  • Leave as little skin exposed as possible
  • Do not wear makeup
  • Do not wear contacts


  • Get away from the source
  • Do not touch your eyes or wipe your face
  • Blink rapidly. Doing so over time is the most effective treatment.
  • If wearing contacts, have someone with clean hands remove them.
  • Flush eyes directly with water for 10-15 minutes or as needed.
  • Use a clean towel soaked in less irritating soap (ex. no-tears baby soap, soap without ammonia) and water to carefully wipe exposed areas on the face.
  • Wash exposed skin, especially hands, with less irritating soap and water ASAP.
  • Change your clothes ASAP.
  • Take a shower with soap and water when you get home.

More info:

Tear Gas


  • Wear shatter-resistant goggles
  • Wear a gas mask respirator or N95 mask
  • Leave as little skin exposed as possible
  • Do not wear makeup
  • Do not wear contacts


  • Get away from the source to higher ground if possible.
  • Blow your nose, spit, try not to swallow.
  • Do not touch your eyes.
  • Blink rapidly.
  • If wearing contacts, have someone with clean hands remove them.
  • Flush eyes with water (away from the nose) for 10-15 minutes.
  • Wash exposed skin, especially hands, with soap and water ASAP.
  • Change your clothes ASAP. Put contaminated clothes into two plastic bags (to avoid spreading it). Hand wash or dispose of contaminated clothes.
  • Until you can change your clothes, walk with arms outstretched to air out particles in your clothing.
  • Take a shower with soap and cool water when you get home.

More info:

Bullet Wound


  • Call an ambulance (911)
  • If the victim is unconcious, not breathing, and has no pulse, perform CPR until the victim is breathing or the ambulance/EMT arrives.
  • Do not move the victim unless it is unsafe to leave them where they are.
  • Stop the bleed: apply firm pressure to the wound with a cloth. If the wound is on an arm or leg, wrap the wound with a commercial tournaquet just above the wound and apply pressure to the wound. No commercial tournaquet? Pack the wound with guaze or clean cloth and apply direct pressure.
  • Can't get an ambulance to come? Control the bleeding, then take the victim to a hospital.
  • See the links below. Educate yourself! Save a life!

More info:

"Rubber" Bullet Wound



  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Bruised? Apply ice and a little pressure.
  • If hit in the arm or leg, elevate the limb.
  • Skin puncture:
    • Seek medical attention. Punctured skin can indicate a serious problem.
    • Wash the wound with water and mild soap.
    • Cover loosely with gauze.
    • If bleeding, apply medium pressure to stop the bleeding.
  • Seek emergency medical attention if anything is in the wound. Do not remove the lodged item.

More info:



  • Do not handle tear gas canisters without protection (ex. Strong heat-resistant gloves). They WILL burn you!

First-Degree (sunburn level):

  • Remove tight clothes or jewelry around the burned area.
  • Rinse with cool (not cold) water for 5 minutes.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if needed.
  • Cover loosely with gauze or a clean cloth.
  • Seek medical attention if fever persists, pain is not under control, or the burn is large.

Second-Degree (very red, blisters, swelling, very painful):

  • If smaller than 3 inches (7cm) and not involving functional body parts (eyes, face, feet, etc), treat as a first-degree burn. Otherwise, seek medical attention ASAP.

Third-Degree (charred, blackened, or white. Very dry/leathery):

  • Seek emergency medical attention immediately.
  • Check that the victim is breathing and look for signs of shock (shallow breathing, fainting).
  • Remove tight clothes or jewelry around the burned area.
  • Cover the burn with a cool, moist bandage or clean cloth.
  • Do not immerse in water.
  • Elevate the burned area.

More info:

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Staying Anonymous

Staying anonymous at a protest
  • Call your buddy and group members by their pseudonym/codename only.
  • Leave identification at home (keep emergency contact info on you).
  • Leave your personal phone at home.
  • Carry cash only, no cards.
  • Dress in all black.
  • Wear a hat or helmet.
  • Wear goggles or glasses
  • Have a change of clothes or wear plain clothes under the black ones.
  • Buy transit passes in cash only.
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Digital Security

Digital Security
  • Use signal (signal.org) for individual and group messaging and calls.
  • Use a pseudonym in all messages. Refer to others by their pseudonym only.
  • Set up an anonymous, encrypted email account (ex. ProtonMail)
  • Use a VPN and/or Tor for secure, anonymous browsing.
  • Use a password manager and strong, unique passwords.
  • Disable fingerprint or camera unlocking on your phone. Use a strong passphrase. In general, you have the right not to give up your password.
  • If taking photos, blur protestors' faces (signal has this option built-in).
  • More tips for securing your phone from Amnesty International
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Documenting Protests Effectively

Documenting, either via video, pictures, or written records, is an important aspect of keeping protestors safe and holding police and others accountable for their actions.

Video and pictures


  • Know your rights (ACLU)
  • Take pictures or record video only when you feel safe doing so.
  • On your phone, shoot horizontally
  • Set up your phone to back up footage to a cloud service.
  • Consider sharing anonymously. Do you want to be associated with the footage?
  • Try to get consent from people before sharing footage.
  • Work with an advocacy group when releasing important footage.
  • Depending on the footage, consider hiring a lawyer before releasing it.
  • Stay out of the way.


  • Film landmarks, street signs, newspapers, etc to prove your footage is real.
  • If narrating, speak like a sports commentator giving a play-by-play with background info.
  • Hold shots for at least 10 seconds before slowly moving to the next shot.
  • Keep the camera still. Use a tripod or rest the camera on or against a stationary object.
  • Help protect protestors' by blurring faces. YouTube instructions


  • Try to include landmarks, street signs, etc. to prove your images are real.
  • Avoid blurry photos by holding the camera as still as possible.
  • Blur faces of protestors (Signal instructions) (other web tool)

More: Teen Vogue: How to Film Police Safely

Written documentation
  • Bring more than one pen and piece of paper.
  • Write down time, date, and location of events.
  • Ask for consent to share protestors' identities.
  • Got more tips? Please send me a message!
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