Follow these steps to plan your first political demonstration
Thank you, Indivisible Guide, for giving us this guidance!
- Know your State Senator. Sign up on your State Senator’s websites to receive regular email updates, invites to local events, and propaganda to understand what they’re saying. Most Senators have an e-newsletter; others will have a calendar of events.
- Connect with your neighbors. It’s important that you not only get your friends, family, and neighbors involved to plan your protest, but also to raise awareness about the issues important to you. Consider reaching out to your neighbors in person and online. Create a Facebook event or Eventbrite invitation to get the word out. Reach out to local media to explain why your group is protesting, and provide them with background materials and a quote. Journalists on deadline — even those who might not agree with you — appreciate when you provide easy material for a story. Remember, the larger your protest, the greater the impact!
- Do your research and get creative. There’s plenty of organizing going on all over the country right now. Have a look at what other citizens are doing and think about what resonates most with you, your interests, and your goals. What types of events and protests have seemed to work best? And what would be eye-catching? If you need some creative examples, try looking here, here, and here. If you have a Statue of Liberty costume in your closet, bring it out. Bald Eagle baseball hats? American flags, too — but how can you wave or wrap them a little differently? Don’t hold back. We can’t spill secrets, but some of the groups are really going to turn it out for this Money Talks week.
- Optimize visibility. Unlike in town halls, you want your presence as a group to be recognizable and attention-getting at this event. It may make sense to stick together as a group, wear relatively similar clothing, such as message shirts and costumes, and carry creative signs in order to be sure that your presence is noticeable. Agree beforehand with your group on a simple message focused on a current or upcoming issue. Coordinate with each other to chant this message.
- Record and share everything! Assign someone in the group to use their smart phone or video camera to photograph and record your event. Share everything — post pictures, videos, your thoughts about the event, etc., to social media in real time and after the event. These clips can be re-shared through social media and picked up by local and national media.
- If reporters attend your protest, identify and try to speak with them. Be polite and friendly, and stick to your message. For example, “We’re here to remind the State Senator that his constituents are opposed to shortchanging public schools.”
IMPORTANT NOTES ON SAFETY AND PRIVILEGE
Plan your actions to ensure that no one is asked to take on a role that they are not comfortable with — especially those roles that call for semi-confrontational behavior — and be mindful of the fact that not everyone is facing an equal level of threat. Members of your group who enjoy more privilege should think carefully about how they can ensure that they are using their privilege to support other members of the group.
Likewise, please familiarize yourself with your state and local laws that govern recording, along with any applicable Senate or House rules, prior to recording. These laws and rules vary substantially from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. See the permit contact information below.
Protest Permit Information
Please confirm all of the below information is still accurate before your protest. We’ve provided sources for your reference and convenience.
New York City (Alcantara, Avella, Felder, Hamilton, Klein, Peralta, Savino)
If you want to distribute handbills on a public sidewalk or in a public park; have a demonstration, rally or press conference on a public sidewalk; or march on a public sidewalk and you do not intend to use amplified sound, you do not need any permit. If you want to use amplified sound on public property; want to have an event with more than 20 people in a New York City park; or wish to conduct a march in a public street, you will need a permit.
If you want, you can notify the Police Department, but that is not required. If you do notify the Police Department, officers may appear at the event. If your event involves a significant number of people, the Police Department may set up a “pen” in which they will ask you to stand; you are not required to stay in a pen. In conducting your event, you cannot block pedestrian passage on a sidewalk, so you should leave at least one-half of the sidewalk free. You cannot block building entrances.
If you want to use amplified sound in a public place, you must get a permit from the Police Department. You can download a permit application from the front page of the NYPD’s website (www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/home/home.shtml), which has a link on the left under the “Find Services” section to “permits.” You also can obtain an application from the precinct where the event will take place. Either way, once you complete the application, you should submit it in person at the precinct where the event will take place. The fee for a one-time sound permit is $45. Though city rules specify that permits must be sought at least five days before the event, you are entitled to receive a permit even if you apply less than five days before your event. (See website for more rules on this.)
Central New York
If you as an individual or small group want to protest or distribute flyers, have a demonstration or rally on a public sidewalk, and do not intend to use amplified sound, you do not need any permit. You do not have to notify police or other local government authorities ahead of time, but can if you want to. If you want to hold an event with a large group or march in the street, you will need to seek a parade or rally permit from local government authorities ahead of time. Some municipalities also require a permit if you intend to amplify sound with more than just a standard bullhorn. If you want to hold an event in front of a public building, or in a public square, plaza, or park you may also need to seek a permit from the local authorities. You should call the city clerk or police department ahead of time to find out about the particular procedures in their municipality. Seek your permit well in advance.
If you want to, you can notify the police department, but that is not required. If you do notify the police, officers may appear at the event. If your event involves a large number of people, you may need to seek a permit beforehand. Without a permit, the police may stop your event if they perceive that your group is large enough to seem like “a mob.” They may also stop your event if they perceive that your group has become physically aggressive towards others, or otherwise presents a “danger” to the public. You cannot block pedestrian traffic on a sidewalk, so try to leave at least one-half of the sidewalk free and clear. You also cannot block building entrances, so avoid placing yourself in the way of people entering and exiting buildings and businesses.
New City (Carlucci)
- Clarkstown Town Clerk: Justin Sweet
- Office Phone – (845) 639-2010
Fax – (845) 639-2008
- Clarkstown Police Services: (845) 639-5800
- Town Clerk: Mary Ann Roberts
- Phone (914) 762-8428
Fax (914) 941-0627
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Police Dept: (914) 941-4099
- For parade/public assembly permit, contact Police Dept. Special Events Office 7-10 working days in advance at (315) 442-5203.
- For protest in city park contact Parks & Recreation Dept. at (315) 473-4330
- CNY Chapter NYCLU Syracuse, NY Phone: (315) 471-2821 Fax: (315) 471-1077
- E-Mail: email@example.com
- NYCLU Main Office New York City, NY Phone: (212) 607-3300 Fax: (212) 607-3318
- Web site: www.nyclu.org
- ‘…the NLG’s [National Lawyers Guild’s] stance on permits is that they shouldn’t be required—but a protest might go smoother if you have one. “Things can go easier if one gets one, but we don’t tell people to get them and we don’t tell people not to get them,” he says.
- ‘If a protest is in response to recent news, the First Amendment protects the right of citizens to organize without giving advanced notice to authorities, the ACLU says. Also, the ACLU clarifies that “a permit cannot be denied because the event is controversial or will express unpopular views.”’
- Source: http://www.self.com/story/your-right-to-protest-and-how-to-do-it-safely