By Derrick Lane
June 2, 2020
(Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
Mass protests over police brutality have been popping up all over the place. From city to city, people are making their voices heard with peaceful rallies and marches. There have also been crazy amounts of looting and damage done to businesses, homes, and other people.
Choosing to protest is our right that always comes with some level of possible danger, but doing in the age of coronavirus makes it even more complicated and dangerous.
Family physician Dr. Jen Caudle shares some things to think about before stepping out the door and joining the protest lines.
“The last thing we need when we are protesting the senseless loss of human life is more loss of life,” explains Dr. Caudle.
She says there are questions we should ask ourselves before going out to protest during coronavirus:
“What are you risks?”
“Are you on medication?”
“Do you have any elder family members at home at risk?”
Another great tip Dr. Caudle shares is “Keep hand sanitizer in your pocket and choose to wear contacts instead of glasses”
New York City’s health department shared advice to protesters to protect themselves and each other from the virus, including to social distance and use signs and noisemakers instead of yelling.
Ellie Murray, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University, described the protests as necessary and important for the U.S. as a whole, but said limiting further spread of the coronavirus is also essential. Demonstrators who are physically close to other people for extended periods of time are at risk, and should take precautions to not spread it further, she said.
“We would probably encourage anyone who was at the protests and is not continuing to protest should probably self-quarantine for 14 days,” Murray told POLITICO. “It usually takes at least a few days before somebody is actually able to test positive after they’ve been exposed. We probably wouldn’t recommend people go and get tested until — if they were out protesting yesterday — maybe Wednesday.”
So with that said, what can we do to not only be effective, but safe? Here are some real things we can do:
Fight them Financially
Individual spending choices can also be a form of public protest. We have seen people speak out with their wallets in a variety of ways: donating to pandemic relief efforts, giving to friends and neighbors in need, andpatronizing local and responsible businesses. In these small ways, we can show what we value and provide assistance to the millions who’ve lost their livelihoods, even as we demand that our government strengthen its safety net. Essential workers, many of whom are often people of color, have made their needs known, and many are joining together to help.
Protest with your vote
Voting and filling out the 2020 census are two more ways that people are making their voices heard and should be possible without risking one’s health. Advocates are working tirelessly to ensure that election processes are as accessible as possible, while also reminding people that everyone can and should fill out the census because the national headcount will have important implications far beyond the current crisis.
There is strength in numbers. If we are unified, do you know how many things we can change? Don’t just get signatures, have a solid plan of what you are going to do with all those signatures of people who agree with you. Are you going to back a candidate and put him or her in office to fight for you? Are you going to bring your resources together to buy land or property and build financial freedom? Remember, you are one of many and we have so much power together.