Dissent in the time of Covid-19: How to protest safely

Black lives matter protest, Covid

The world has seen massive outrage over the death of George Floyd in the United States in an act of police brutality. Floyd’s death, which came at the hands of racially-motivated police officers, has shed light on the centuries of embedded oppression and racism against black people, not just in the United States, but also globally. 

The issue received global attention, and despite the ongoing Covid-19 alerts and lockdowns set in place around the world, thousands defied lockdown orders and flocked to the streets to protest racism and violence against black people in an act of global solidarity. 

Because the threat of Covid-19 is still massive in countries worldwide, there is a significant need to protest safely whilst remaining in solidarity with your larger communities. Here are some measures you can take to ensure that you prioritize the safety of yourself and others around you.

Black lives matter protest covid mask
Photograph: Julian Wan/Unsplash

Follow country guidelines

Most countries have provided detailed guidelines on how you can maintain social distance as well as keep yourself safe during the pandemic, which primarily include the usage of face masks, sanitizers, and wipes, generally, and these become even more important to use when you’re in large crowds during a protest. Other suggestions include protective goggles or even sunglasses that cover your eyes and prevent the transmission of the virus through your eyes. 

Keep your social distance

While it can be hard to avoid people or crowds in a physical protest, attempt to maintain as much distance from others as possible. You can also bring water, drinks, and food from home, in order to ensure your personal safety and hygiene, avoid touching surfaces, and coming in close contact with others.

Wear masks indoors

When you return home from a protest, ensure that you maintain a distance from those living with you and wear a mask around the house as a precautionary measure, in case you contracted the virus during the protest. Additionally, you could also get yourself tested after attending protests if you live around people who may be particularly vulnerable to the virus and in order to ensure that you receive the necessary medical help in the initial stages of contracting the virus. 

Express dissent using digital resources

If you’re unable to join protests outside, you can sign several petitions against racism and police brutality online. You can also hold your own local institutions and governments accountable by emailing and calling them from home and advocating for change. A tangible way to support the black community is to donate to anti-racist organizations and make purchases from black businesses. 

From reading books and watching shows to educate yourself, to stepping out on the streets and rendering support and solidarity to the black community, there is a lot to be done to challenge injustice and contribute to an anti-racist consciousness.

Ifath Arwah is an MA Media in Development student at SOAS, with a background in journalism and research. Her interests revolve around gender, migration, and development.

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