This afternoon I had a session with my therapist. We took a break from our usual topics and methods to talk about the fear I have been experiencing after the election results came in. My fears as a woman, my fears for my friends who have survived sexual assault and think that nobody will believe their stories, and my fears for LGBTQ and POC friends who are already witnessing and experiencing heinous acts of hatred. My therapist then proceeded to tell me that every single patient she has seen since the results were announced have talked to her about how worried this election makes them.
Just now, I heard a group of anti-Trump demonstrators marching down my street. As I am not feeling particularly well today, I sat this demonstration out, but there are several happening in my area this next week. Since I cannot participate tonight, I decided that I would give tips for things that have beneficial for myself or for friends of mine that could come in handy if you are participating in any anti-Trump demonstrations or protests this weekend.
Wear extremely sturdy shoes. Many of the marches I have been involved in have spanned several miles. The first ever march I participated in was two years ago, with an anti-police brutality group that had congregated on my college campus. I wasn’t aware of the protest until they crossed my path, but I jumped in the moment I saw them being harassed by another student. I was so glad to have participated with them, but my feet were killing me after the march ended. Why? Because I went the entire march, across the uneven hilly terrain of my campus, wearing archless Spice Girl-style platform sneakers from H&M that were a half-size too big for me. Broken-in Doc Martens with a longer and thicker pair of socks have been my go-to choice anytime I have decided march, walk or stand for a long period of time. Athletic tennis shoes and hiking boots are comfortable options as well.
Now that we have set our clocks back an hour, it has been getting dark earlier and earlier. Although it is unseasonably warm this time of year all across the country, remember that it is actually pretty cold once the sun sets. You do not need to bring out your heaviest winter coat just yet, but definitely bring something warm to wear as the sunsets. Bring layerable items that will keep you warm once the temperature drops, but nothing so thick that you cannot tie it around your waist. An oversized flannel shirt to layer over a t-shirt is sufficiently cozy if it is especially warm in your area. Denim jackets are always sturdy and warm for these occasions. I am a big fan of the army jacket that I purchased at a second hand store a few years back, as well as my leather jacket. You can wear a basic hoodie under any of these items for added coziness, which would be ideal in areas with more traditional fall weather.
Make sure that you are hydrated if you are going to be moving around a lot. I would recommend bringing a water bottle, but only if you bring a bag large enough to fit it while you are marching so that you can carry a sign or possibly link arms with your companions.
I always recommend going to protests with at least one other person if it is happening late. I would say that all of the protests I have attended have been safe, and there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. However, you have no idea what counter protesters are thinking or doing, and there is always a chance that things could get out of hand anywhere you go. I went in a group of four to the last protest I attended, but having at least one friend with you is recommended. A group of three is harder to account for if someone gets separated or pulls a muscle (which happened to a friend in my foursome last time), but any size of group beyond that works perfectly.
A classmate of mine recommends downloading SafeTrek or something similar. If you are ever walking alone somewhere, you hold down the button onscreen. Once you let go, you have 10 seconds to enter your individualized pin number to read that you are safe. If you do not enter your pin number, the police will be sent over to the location where you let go. This is ideal if you absolutely must attend a protest on your own and are headed home afterwards, but this is also a nice tool to have anytime you are walking by yourself and feel unsafe (which might be very often after today, sadly). SafeTrek costs $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year, but there are similar services available in your app store that are more affordable or free.
After the sheer terror I experienced on Tuesday night that our country would willingly elect someone like Donald Trump, it makes me feel so much better that my fellow civilians are using their right to protest to show that they will resist any hatred that his administration will try to spread. Thank you for standing up for your fellow citizens’ civil rights and safety. Please stay safe!