Nattering Social Justice Cook: How to Prepare to Protest

Picture of Cat Rambo

And we’re off!

If you are one of the many of us going off to protest, to bear witness, to object, then I want you to be prepared.


  • Make sure someone knows you are going, and that they will check in if they haven’t heard from you by the end of the night. Preferably someone who would be willing to come stand bail for you in a pinch. Have their phone number memorized; not just in your phone.
  • Know what your rights are. Review these cards and have them on you so you know how to deal with the police.

Things to Take With You:

  • A bottle of water
  • Food
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Layers
  • A fully charged phone, and preferably a backup battery
  • A backpack that includes a first-aid kit, any medication that you cannot do without, and whatever basics you might pack for an emergency overnight trip, water-based baby wipes, eye drops
  • ID
  • Enough money to buy food/make a phone call, whatever
  • A sealed plastic bag containing a bandana soaked in vinegar in case of tear gas.
  • Notebook and paper.

Do not take anything with you if its loss would be devastating.

If you are planning on being on the frontline:

  • Wear goggles or shatter-resistant glasses. Rubber bullets are real bullets, encased in a rubber coating. Pepper spray has been used on protestors here in Seattle. Other possibilities are tear gas and fire hoses.
  • Wearing a backpack on your stomach with some padding, such as a change of clothing, will give you some small protection if police are jabbing batons in order to push people back.
  • You may want to think about a gas mask. Here is a simple DIY one. Here is a reasonably priced one on Amazon. Be aware that wearing that mask unnecessarily may make you a police target.

How to Act:

  • Do not respond to provocation.
  • Pick your battles.
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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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