Thursday, July 19

The Quad: What to expect when you’re protesting

With marches and protests springing up with every passing day Trump is in office, it's best to be prepared before you take to the streets. (Ken Shin/Daily Bruin)

With marches and protests springing up with every passing day Trump is in office, it's best to be prepared before you take to the streets. (Ken Shin/Daily Bruin)

From the Women’s March to the airport demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, protests have dominated the news cycle throughout the month of January.

Calling on the civil disobedience of the 1960s, protesting is becoming the newest weapon against the Trump administration. In an effort to help students become more active, The Quad has put together a student’s guide to protesting to provide you with tips and insight on how to protest.

For new activists, there is always a reason to get involved.

“[Understand] that the political is personal and the personal is political,” said Chloe Pan, a third-year international development and Asian studies student. Pan, who has been involved in several forms of activism at UCLA, said she urges student activists to connect with their community to find their reason to fight, to get out and protest.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘What are you fighting for?” Pan said.

At the Women’s March, people fought for social, political and economic equality. At the Los Angeles International Airport protests against Trump’s executive order, people fought for the inclusivity that has defined the United States for so many years.

By understand what affects you and your communities, you can find your reason to protest.

There’s no right or wrong way to protest, as long as you stay civil. But as my mom always says – I’m not worried about you, I’m worried about everyone else.

At the end of the day, your safety is the most important thing. Learning from the mistakes of our rebellious sister school to the north, we can safely say peace is the way to go.

Last week, UC Berkeley’s protest of Breitbart Tech editor and “alt-right” superstar Milo Yiannopoulos turned violent, partially thanks to anarchists, resulting in the cancellation of his speaking engagement. Yiannopoulos was originally scheduled to speak at UCLA in early February, but after similarly violent protests broke out at UC Davis, Bruin Republicans canceled the event.

UCLA has also had its fair share of protests in recent months. The “Love Trumps Hate” rally Nov. 10, 2016 was a great showing of unity, echoing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign message “Stronger Together.”

To protest is to disrupt and to disrupt is to incite change. The point of protesting is to show your discontent in hopes that it will bring about change.

So if you do choose to go protesting, here are some tips to keep you safe

1. Keep your friends close: Protests can get crazy, so make sure you stay with your group. Determine a designated meeting point beforehand in case you get separated.

2. Charge your phone: Though cell service is pretty spotty when there are hundreds of thousands of people in one place, make sure you keep your phone handy. Plus, posting your activism on social media is always a great way to congratulate yourself for helping the world.

3. Resistance is key, but don’t resist (arrest): On the off-chance you do get arrested, do not resist. Stay calm and follow the police’s instructions. But know that you don’t need to show them ID or speak to them until a lawyer is present.

  • Keep in mind that the police are just trying to keep the peace. Even if you are innocent of any wrongdoing, comply with the officer’s instructions.
  • Though you must tell the police your name, you do not need to speak with them any further until you have legal counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
  • Due to recent police brutality, people of color should be particularly aware. Turning your Facebook Live on is one way to ensure your safety if you feel you are being treated unjustly. However, please proceed with caution.

4. Not everyone is there to protest: Beware of people who are just there to incite violence. Anarchist groups like to take advantage of protests to destroy and vandalize property.

  • If you do encounter anarchists, simply continue protesting. Do not engage or condone their activity.

My first protest was on Nov. 8, 2016, shortly after Trump received the needed 270 electoral votes to defeat Clinton in the presidential election. In an overwhelming fit of disappointment and frustration, the campus came alive as hundreds of students marched through Westwood to protest the results of the election.

[Related: Bruins react to election with protest, on the streets and social media]

The energy that night in Westwood was electric, and thousands of others organized protests, from Los Angeles to New York, in a way we haven’t seen in half a century. But if there’s anything to be learned from these protests, it’s that protesting starts a conversation – but by no means does it offer a solution.

On the path to democratic progress, protests must be followed by concrete action: calling your representatives, canvassing for local politicians and showing up at every election, not just the big ones.

Through a system of gerrymandering and voter suppression, Republicans in Congress have built an iron castle, barring those who don’t fall into their cisgender, heterosexual and white version of America. If liberals want to see change in this country, they must start at the bottom and work their way up – yes, with protests – but also with an unwavering commitment to work for progress.

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