Determine beforehand what the protest seeks to achieve and who the primary audience is, so that you'll know where to concentrate your efforts. Sometimes the goal may be to spread awareness about a particular topic, and thus the audience is the public, while in other cases, where the goal is more specific, the audience may be a government where the objective would then be to exert pressure on it to effect change.
Choosing the time and place
A good location is one with symbolism that is also public, so that it will be seen by many people. For more specific goals, you should get close to relevant buildings, e.g. if you are protesting a certain business's practices then you would concentrate efforts near that building, and if you are protesting a government policy then you should concentrate near the town hall, courthouse, or capitol building. Setting the protest in a public area keeps it legal and in greater view of the public audience. What time the protest occurs depends on the goal — you may want to get the attention of the leader of an organization, e.g. the CEO or mayor, and so the protest would take place likely during business hours. However, if the goal of the protest is to gather as many people as possible, then setting the protest on a weekend would be a better option.
You don't need a permit to march in the streets or on sidewalks, as long as traffic isn't obstructed. Each city has its own laws regarding how many people can protest, where they can gather, and what level of sound they can make, so look that up. Most often, permits have to be filed several weeks in advance, however in the United States, the First Amendment waives this requirement for rallies and demonstrations that are rapid responses to unforeseeable and recent events.
Make sure as many people show up as possible and that media attention is maximized as well. Post details about the protest on social media, and make flyers about the protest and put them around, making sure you target places like college campuses and other areas where people are likely to be interested in such an event. Also call local newspapers and radio stations and ask them to publish information about the protest and promote it on air.
Things to bring
Use your discretion; sometimes it's more useful to bring less in order to blend in better, as in some protests you might actually stand out more and draw more scrutiny to yourself if you come in more gear. Wearing more gear is also not recommended for long protests in strong heat. Consider bringing extra supplies to hand out to fellow protestors, and try to cover up distinctive features such as tattoos and hair, if they're distinctive enough.
- Hard hat: protects against police batons and flying objects, on top of providing some cover from surveillance. A normal hat can be used instead, and specializes in keeping your temperature lower, especially in hot areas, however does not offer as much protection. Keep the brim low to maximize visibility.
- Goggles: protect against tear gas and obscure one's identity from surveillance. Sunglasses can also be used.
- Gas mask: protects against tear gas and obscures identity. A bandana is a cheaper, lighter-weight version of this.
- T-shirt: should be of a color that blends in to the rest of the protestors, and often is black. This makes it harder for authorities to identify individuals.
- Gloves: protect hands, especially when doing things like picking up gas canisters
- Umbrella: protects against tear gas and shields identity
- Shin pads: protect shins during brawls and falls
- Sports shoes: allow for easy movement
- Backpack: contains things such as:
- water: quenches thirst, extinguishes tear gas canisters, and rinses gas from stinging eyes
- a towel, to wipe away sweat and tear gas
- a change of clothes, to disguise one's identity from the authorities
- change for transportation or a payphone. Try not to use electronic payments since that will make it easier for authorities to track your movements.
- first aid supplies
- a phone, to record events such as an arrest or police brutality, and to receive information from online platforms. Keep in mind that a phone may also be used to track you, so bring it only if the benefits outweigh the negatives. Consider using a secondary or burner phone instead. Make sure it is charged beforehand, and consider bringing a power bank.
- Protest sign. Make sure that writing is in big, bold letters that can easily be read from far away. Shorter sayings are catchier. Sticks may be attached by gluing/stapling/etc. to poster or foam board to create a handle.
- Ibuprofen: for pain relief
- Medications that need to be taken on schedule
If you get arrested, fall limp. Especially if many people are doing this it can be a major drain on the authorities' time and other resources. Sir Steve House, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has this to say about it:
“It might seem like a silly thing to say, but when we arrest them and pick them up they go all floppy, which is why you see four or five officers carrying them away."
"It's a complete waste of officers' time, and a complete pain in the neck. If they could just behave like sensible adults — you've made your point, you wanted to be arrested, you've been arrested, get up and walk away with one officer and stop wasting police time.
"This is a real issue, and they will not do it, and it is a flipping nuisance."
"The problem with them going floppy and four officers carrying them away is that it looks to the general public like the police are overreacting here."