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How to Hold a Peaceful Protest

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By Andrew Puccetti

There are many ways to speak up for animals, and one of the most effective is to hold a peaceful demonstration. These can be great way to educate your community about an issue and bring attention to a cause, and they only require a small amount of your time.

Here are some tips for organizing a peaceful protest:

Before the protest

  • Choose a location. Focus in on what you would like to speak up against and choose a location to protest at. Do you want to speak up against puppy mills? Protest in front of a pet store that sells puppies. Do you want to protest against fur? Protest in front of a fur shop.
  • Promote. Invite your friends and any other animal advocates you know in your area. Create a Facebook event and/or use Meetup.com, which has many animal advocacy groups ready to assist you in helping your cause.
  • Make or order materials. You’ll want some quality signs to hold up and leaflets to hand out to the public on your issue. If you want to go the homemade way, a fun activity to do before holding your protest is to hold a sign making party. (You can find poster boards at any craft store.) You can also order signs and leaflets from many animal rights groups, who may even send them out for free or for a small donation.
  • See if you need a permit. Do your homework and check into local ordinances before the event. Usually you will not need a permit, but if you are planning to have stationary objects on the sidewalk (tables, for example), amplified sound (such as bullhorns), or food giveaways, then a permit may be needed. To see if you need one, check with the city’s police department or research on the city’s website. I usually email someone from the police department in advance and bring that email to the protest for proof that I do not need a permit.

Day of the Protest

  • Follow the law. In the United States, you are within your first amendment rights to protest, leaflet, and talk to people in front of a business. Just make sure you are on public property, and that you are not blocking any doors or walkways. Typically, it’s not difficult to figure out what is public property. With the exception of the sidewalk in front of the business’ door, all surrounding sidewalk is usually public.
  • Remind the police. Call the police department’s non-emergency line the morning of the protest and remind them about your peaceful demo. They may stop by just to check up, but as long as you are following all of the laws there should be no problems.
  • Come early. Be the first person there and don’t forget the signs/leaflets.
  • Make sure that your protesters do not park in the targeted business’ parking lot. Park in a neighboring parking lot, or get dropped off.
  • Collect contact info. I usually bring a notebook and collect everyone’s contact information to alert them of future protests.
  • Focus. Do not chat on your cell phone or chat with the person next to you. You are there for the animals and you want to show everyone you mean business.

Dress professionally, smile, and spread out so that it looks like there are more people at your protest than there really are.With proper planning, protests can be very effective and fun at the same time. At the end of your protest, make sure to thank everyone for their time. I always like to take a group photo as well. You’ll find that at the end of the protest, you’ll feel great about the difference you made—so get out there and (peacefully) speak your mind.

Andrew Puccetti may only be fifteen years old, but he has already shown immense dedication and passion for the well-being of animals. Every other week Andrew will be here talking about the relationship between young people and animal rights–how they can make a difference, how they are already making a difference, and how important it is for kids to continue the fight for our animal companions. Learn about Andrew’s non-profit organization Live Life Humane and check out his blog!

Related:

Live Life Humane: Protest at Happiness is Pets

Speak Out: 7 Tips for Effective Leafleting

How to Organize a Shelter Drive

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