Staying Safe and Healthy at a Public Demonstration or March

Please visit Guidance Regarding Free Expression and Peaceable Assembly for Students at Yale for university policies and other relevant information.

Before attending a public demonstration, you should prepare a plan to ensure your safety and to keep in touch with others in the event of an escalation. The following information can be helpful.

COVID-19 and Safety in Public

Public demonstrations are taking place against the backdrop of COVID-19, which is still causing harm in our community. If you are participating in a protest or demonstration, continue to follow public health guidance on how to stay safe during this time. Wear your mask, maintain six feet between you and others as far as possible, and carry hand sanitizer.

Participate with Others if Possible

Always try to bring a partner to a demonstration or to participate with a group. Have a plan for where to meet if you are separated, as can easily happen in a crowd, and a contingency plan if you aren’t able to use your cell phones. If you are part of a larger group, set up a group text to help you communicate in case you are separated. Consider sharing your GPS location via the GPS feature on your phone or a downloadable app such as Life360 with friends also attending the demonstration so that you can find one another if separated. You should also make sure someone not attending the demonstration knows where you are going.

What to Bring

Carry your identification, a credit card and cash, transit passes, and medical alert bracelet. Bring paper and a pen, and a list of contact numbers in case you don’t have access to your cell phone or the network is overloaded. Fully charge your cell phone and bring along a spare battery and/or charger.

Ensure you are dressed appropriately for the season with warm clothes or sunscreen and bug spray. Bring energy snacks and a full water bottle – enough to last four to eight hours. Bring any personal hygiene products you will need for the day. Carry a small first-aid kit that includes bandages and disinfectant wipes.

When You Have a Medical Condition

If you have diabetes, asthma, or another medical condition, ensure that you have your medications, blood sugar monitor, inhaler, EpiPen, and other health supplies. Be sure you have medical alert identification on you in case you have an emergency in the crowd.

Mobility aids such as wheelchairs, canes, walkers, or baby strollers should be allowed, but check with the organizers and police to see if there are any restrictions, precautions, or alternate routes.

Planning Your Routes to and From the Demonstration

If you are participating in a march, you may have to walk a considerable distance to and from the start and end points of the march. Do your research on which streets may be closed for larger protests and where public transportation may be diverted. Scout stops in each direction in case your way is blocked.

Staying Safe During the Demonstration

Before you go, identify a location away from the area where you and your group will meet if you need to leave quickly.

When you arrive at the event, be aware of what is happening around you. Are protesters and counter-protesters remaining peaceful? Is the crowd becoming alarmingly congested and it would be wise to move to the periphery?

Follow the instructions of organizers or public officials on site, such as staying behind barricades or dispersing.

Avoid activity such as blocking or preventing the movement or access of others. Help those who may be vulnerable or are having a medical issue.

If you feel unsafe, stay calm and focused. Move to a safe place or travel to your pre-arranged meeting location.

Crowd Safety

It can be frightening to be in a tight crowd. Keep your arms free rather than pinned at your side and use wide-spread footing for balance to prevent falls.

When the crowd is moving, move with the crowd rather than attempting to remain still, but look for openings to make your way incrementally towards the periphery and out of the congestion if you are concerned.

Warn others about obstacles in your path, holes in the pavement, and other tripping hazards, and seek assistance for anyone who has fallen.

Know Your Rights

It is your right to assemble, speak freely, and protest. Know your rights. The Office of International Students & Scholars has information on rights and responsibilities for international students.