“What struck me most about those who rioted was how long they waited—the restraint they showed. Not the spontaneity, the restraint. They waited and waited for justice, and it didn’t come. No one talks about that…”
—Toni Morrison on the Los Angeles riots, 1993
Created by Beck Levy for ANTIGRAVITY Magazine, your New Orleans free, independent, monthly newsprint alternative to culture.
This document is intended to provide resources for those planning on participating in protests in general, with some resources specific to New Orleans. It is by no means exhaustive, but we hope that by providing these resources we can help you keep yourself, your friends, and your community as safe as possible while standing up for justice.
Aside from a few links, most of these resources were not published in ANTIGRAVITY. Sharing these links does not constitute a total endorsement by the staff of our publication, or the publication itself, of all the ideas contained within.
WHO ORGANIZES PROTESTS?
Many groups call for actions, and actions also happen autonomously and spontaneously. Whatever you attend, consider vetting the organization before you head out.
BEFORE HEADING TO A PROTEST
For New Orleans, the current National Lawyers Guild legal hotline number is 504-290-3535. Write it on your arm in sharpie in case you get arrested. Confirm the number when you get to the protest. NLG legal observers are the folks in the bright green hats holding clipboards. If the number changes, we will try to update this document right away.
A few local attorneys put together this extensive—and regularly updated—legal briefing for people considering civil disobedience. It’s tailored to Louisiana and New Orleans in particular.
Teen Vogue has got you covered with a few basic—and very contemporary—tips. Wired Magazine also has some tips. NYMag’s guide includes thoughts on how white/non-Black people of color who are protesting can best use their privilege to protect Black protesters (in the “put your body between a cop and a Black person” or “follow Black leadership” sense, not the “white savior” sense). For more thoughts on allyship, check out Indigenous Action’s publication “Accomplices Not Allies.”
Artist and educator Jessalyn Aaland created this illustrated guide for youth protesters—but it’s good for any age. And while it was created and originally distributed in California, the information is useful everywhere. Ditto for these Youth Justice LA resources—check out the one about “peaceful protesters”!
There’s a whole lot of talk about “outside agitators” these days, including from our local boys in blue. What’s the deal? VICE examines why and how this bogeyman is being deployed (More from Jacobin as well).
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
ACLU Louisiana offers a variety of know your rights guides, including specific guides for students and immigrants.
This guide on knowing your rights is specific to protesting police brutality. It was written by and for people in NYC, but much of the information is applicable elsewhere.
The Louisiana Public Defender Board created this publication for knowing your rights on the streets and in court.
You can submit complaints about NOPD misconduct and violence to the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor. Your complaints are kept confidential. Submit photos, videos, or written accounts from a first hand perspective or what you’ve seen in the news or social media. You can also reach them by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 504-309-9799.
The ACLU is compiling incident reports about police misconduct and violence across Louisiana. Use this form to report police brutality and constitutional rights violations.
AT THE PROTEST
Teen Vogue has our backs yet again with this guide to protesting as safely as possible during this COVID-19 epidemic. Thank you, Teen Vogue.
Mask Magazine offers some creative suggestions on liberating your friends from arrest.
Black Cross Health Care Collective shares vital information on treating injuries sustained at protests in this classic, yet still relevant, publication. (Don’t put milk in anyone’s eyes y’all! Not for any reason! It’s gross and water works better!)
Every protest has a different vibe, with most containing a multitude of vibes. Some call these recent protests uprisings or rebellions, others call them riots. There are a few common narratives around “riots,” and this article breaks down each one.
FOR JOURNALISTS & PHOTOGRAPHERS (AMATEUR AND PRO ALIKE)
In some ways, not a lot has changed since previous eras of protests (that’s why there are still protests). In a crucial way, though, one thing has: the police have better technology than ever to identify people at protests, definitively or via algorithmic error. You have various concerns to consider—how do you make sure your documentation is secure from the police if you are detained? And responsibilities—how can you cover events without potentially putting peoples’ lives at risk? Police use published (and seek unpublished) photography to criminalize protesters, and vigilantes use them to stalk and doxx protesters (or worse). We hope you consider both concerns carefully, and also ask yourself—what compels me to document this protest in this way? We think you can capture powerful, important moments without necessarily revealing peoples’ faces without their permission—can you rise to the challenge?
HOW TO SUPPORT WHEN YOU CAN’T BE IN THE STREETS
Street protest is far from the only way to show your support for a cause. Perhaps you’re unable to attend because of an injury, a disability, lack of childcare, or just because it isn’t your thing. Due to the pandemic, more people than ever may be nervous about attending a protest, even though people are masking and attempting to social distance at many of them. If you’re a caretaker or roommate of an elderly, chronically ill, or immunocompromised person (or you fit into one of those categories) you may be especially wary of attending a protest. But there are plenty of other ways to show up.
You can donate to or fundraise for the New Orleans Safety and Freedom Fund, a revolving community bail fund and advocacy campaign, so that if protesters are arrested, they aren’t held and put at greater risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, due to the harms of money bail.
There are countless other ways to be active without protesting in the streets: educate yourself or someone else about the issues, or offer emotional or material support to people who are most impacted by police violence or by the pandemic (check out this resource on local mutual aid efforts). More ideas on how to be there without being there from Lifehacker, Cosmo (we promise this isn’t sex tips or a quiz), LGBTQ Nation, and Mic.com.
Devotees of the written word that we are, we want to emphasize the importance of self-education whether or not you’re out there protesting. Perhaps you’re a white person interested in what whiteness means, how that very identity was constructed, and what ought to be done about it—there’s a resource guide for that. Grappling with police violence, and how to talk to your kid about it? There’s a resource guide for that. Trying to make sense of this cruel, complicated world of imprisonment, punishment, and oppression? There’s a comprehensive resource guide on that, focusing on prisons, from the African American Intellectual History Society.
And although libraries are closed (at the moment we’re writing this, though phases are shifting all the time), New Orleans Public Library does offer contactless materials pick-up and drop-off. Plus, you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks using your library card through an app called Libby, for free.
STAY SAFE, WE LOVE YOU
If you believe that any of the resources contained in this document have incorrect or outdated information, or if you have a resource you believe should be included, e-mail us (please put “Protest Doc” in the subject line or your e-mail may be filtered out).