**I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY, THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE**
**ALL REFERENCES TO LAWS AND RIGHTS BASED ON THOSE IN PLACE IN THE US, AND MAY NOT BE RELEVANT OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY**
When attending a protest, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Your experiences during a demonstration may vary based on a lot of different factors. It is generally best practice to prepare as though you may be arrested, even if the risk factor seems very low.
Some things you may want to consider include:
While it is possible that officers may act in defiance of this order, securing your phone with a PIN, passphrase, or fingerprint can help ensure that they do not violate this ruling without your knowledge.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these three methods of securing your device:
Fingerprints: provide very quick access, and cannot be shoulder-surfed; however, if a warrant is obtained for the search of your device, you can be legally compelled to unlock it.PIN: provides quick access, is easy to remember, and may be covered under your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination even if a warrant is obtained; however, a 4-digit PIN can be easy to guess/crack, and may also be easy to shoulder-surf.
Any of these three options is a good choice, and all three are preferable to leaving your phone unlocked. Choose the solution that works best for you, and don't worry too much about its imperfections.
With Signal specifically, this protection extends to your phone calls as well as your text messages. As an added security measure, Signal for Android allows you to password-protect access to your text messages, and Wickr allows password protection on both the Android and iPhone platforms. The benefit of this password protection is that if you are using a fingerprint lock for your phone, law enforcement will still be legally unable to compel you to grant access to any password-protected databases, as passwords are protected under the Fifth Amendment.
Make sure you check your pockets before you head out. Be mindful of anything you may be carrying that could be construed as a weapon, and try not to bring anything you cannot bear to lose.
Additionally, if you take any prescription medications, make sure to bring them with you in their original packaging. It is best to only bring a 3 day supply or so, and to leave the rest at home, in the event that you are somehow separated from your possessions and cannot get them back immediately (or at all.)
While it's entirely possible you will have no need for it, bringing a bandanna or other face-covering can help in many ways. Wearing a mask is unlikely to protect your identity in any real and meaningful ways if you are seen doing something illegal, but it may help protect you from passive recognition by local law enforcement officers, thus shielding you from being singled out for future harassment based on your political ideologies.
Additionally, wearing a mask can help keep you from being spotted by employers watching news coverage of events, or toavoid being the poster child for unsavory headlines. Photos of your face may be available long after the protest, or even the movement is over, so it is important to consider how being associated may impact you several years down the line.
Distinctive clothing can make you easy to pick out of a crowd, easy to place at the scene of a crime (even if it is not a crime you have committed,) and easy to target for police repression. While "black bloc anarchists" are frequently demonized as "violent" and "criminal," the fact remains that black bloc is actually a tactic, not a faction, and its roots lie in protecting individuals from being targeted for repression during or after a demonstration, by cloaking everyone in a shroud of homogeneity. It is, of course, still possible to use biometrics such as height, weight, facial structure, and gait analysis to identify people in a crowd, but unremarkable attire can still help your chances significantly. It is particularly wise to avoid wearing bright colors, and also a good idea to abstain from wearing jewelry. If you have brightly-colored hair and/or tattoos, it may also be a good idea to cover these.
If you are anticipating exposure to chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, it is important to know that while synthetic fabrics will not absorb these chemicals, and may provide a good barrier between them and your skin, they may also melt if they come into contact with something hot.
Additionally, make sure whatever you're wearing is easy to move around in (specifically in the event that you need to make a quick escape), and wear comfortable shoes.
Find out whether there is a legal hotline that operates in your area. In many areas where such hotlines do exist, it is sometimes possible that they may not be staffed for all demonstrations, but it is always wise to write the phone number for the hotline in sharpie on your arm, as many unstaffed hotlines will also find emergency staffing in the event of arrests being made.
Additionally, it is a good idea to check in with a couple trusted individuals who will not be at the demonstration; write their numbers on your arm as well, talk to them beforehand about any relevant information that you might want a legal hotline to know (prescriptions you need, whether or not you want public support, whether or not you want to be bailed out, who, if anyone, you'd like to have called, etc.)
Remember, also, that phone calls made from jail are monitored, so be mindful of what you are saying, and make sure your contact knows not to say anything that could be used against you as well. It may also be a good idea to come up with a duress phrase, to be used in the event of extreme emergency if you've told your contacts you do not want to be bailed out, but circumstances you may not wish to discuss over the phone have changed that.
Law enforcement officers are well-trained in asking questions conversationally, so you don't necessarily realize they are pumping you for information, and any information you reveal, even in response to a seemingly innocuous question, can be used to hurt you. Specifically state that you would like to invoke your right to remain silent, ask to speak to an attorney, and say nothing else, no matter how harmless you think it may be.
Additionally, never depart from a protest alone; at minimum, travel using the buddy system, and whenever possible, travel in larger groups. Post-demonstration snatch-and-grab arrests by law enforcement are frequent occurrences, and traveling in a group means that at very least, there are witnesses if you are targeted.
This is a first installment; more tips coming soon!
Special thanks to The Grugq for reviewing this guide.