Wednesday, July 6, 2022

How to take photos at protests safely and responsibly

There are leaked documents Suggest Roe v Wade Protests in support of reproductive rights are being organized across the country, likely to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year. Some of Justice Samuel Alito’s preliminary opinion could significantly narrow the rights enjoyed by U.S. citizens, opening up opportunities for future states to criminalize contraception and same-sex and interracial marriages.

If you’re going out protesting these and other injustices, and taking pictures while doing so — like your First Amendment rights — you should keep a few things in mind. Whether you’re using a smartphone or a DSLR, documenting protests with photos and videos is an important part of telling what happened and when. But the photos could also be used to harm you or your fellow protesters. Here are some steps you should take to keep yourself and others safe.

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Before you grab your camera and rush out the door, ask yourself why you’re taking pictures at this event. You should not take pictures of likes, followers or social media influence at protests. Don’t join a protest just to say you’re there. Protests are not pictures, nor are people on the street venting their anger and frustration at systemic injustices posing for your Insta. Think about your motivations and be honest with yourself.

Do you still want to protest if you leave your phone and camera at home? Protesters first, photographers second.

Make a plan and bring friends

Staying safe at a protest can be tricky, but we have some guides to help you, including How to keep yourself safe with the right gear and How to protect your smartphone and data privacy.

More specifically, protest with a few friends, relatives, or roommates. Unite together, share supplies, and take care of each other. Going to a protest with other people can relieve a lot of stress. Your friends can watch your back as you take pictures, making sure you’re not blocking anyone’s way.

If the police declare an unlawful assembly and start using force to disperse the crowd, it will be really hard to find a reliable way home. Ride-sharing services like Lyft or Uber may not be able to pick you up. The same goes for public transport; buses and trains may be closed or diverted near protest routes.

The simplest plan is the easiest: plan a walk. You don’t need to walk all the way home, but be prepared to walk a quarter mile until you find a bus, train, or carpool driver willing to pick you up. If you can, ask a friend who will not be at the protest if you can come pick you up. As a last resort, check social media. Search under the Local tab for organizations offering rides or retweeting protesters. Stick to trusted organizations, though; don’t let strangers pick you up.

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