This is a guest post from Jay Emerson, founder of the New York Pirate Party and a long time political activist.
With uprisings happening all over the U.S. lately you might be wondering what to do when the shit hits the fan. Maybe you were thinking of going to a protest in your area to fight against some form of oppression or another, but don’t know what to wear or what to bring to the party, or even what to expect. These activist fashion and culture guides will help you navigate the complex world of “anti-fascist” chic!
Now i’m not going to go over everything because a good portion of pirates already know what to do. What I hope to give is tips and tricks to stuff you already know.
First, you need to get some protest threads and a backpack full of helpful items. Definitely a good read: How to gear up for the protest
Ok so you’re dressed, got your gear ready, and are about to embark to your local resistance area.
Before you do that, something I learned throughout years of activism was to bring a second set of clothing, but make it nice clothing. Business casual. Polo shirt and khakis or something.
During the 2004 RNC in NYC I was with a group heading towards Union square where we were about to be kettled on a side street that the cops were forcing us to go down. I saw where they were flanking us and then I saw the end of the block where a line of police were waiting while the cops started lining up behind us on the other side of the block. Before they got into position I bolted. One cop gave chase and I lost them around the corner by going into a Starbucks. So here I am dressed like fucking Mad Max getting stares in a coffee shop. If the cops check in here i’m screwed. I wait for a person to get out of the bathroom (so I don’t have to buy anything to use the bathroom), run inside before the door closes, change my clothes, and walk out in a nice polo shirt and khakis.
Even asked a cop for directions out of the protest area near the kettle spot too.
This is overkill as I needed the “disguise” to wear INTO the city since I could get arrested on-site due to me being watched and listed in the T.A.L.O.N. program at the time, but I always bring nice clothes now.
TEARZ, RUBBERS, AND LRADS, OH MY!
You’re at the protest. Man those cops look serious. All Stormtroopered out ready to give me some democracy where the sun don’t shine
Here’s their most common weapons
Tear Gas Canisters: These are hot. You need heat resistant gloves or some kind of hilarious item to throw it back with where you don’t have to touch it. If you are caught in a smoke cloud, soak a bandanna or other cloth in apple-cider vinegar or lemon juice and tightly cover your mouth and nose with it.In emergencies, dry powder such as flour, baking soda, detergents, or even soil can be used to reduce the quantity of chemical agent available for uptake through the skin. Pouring flour onto the chemical followed by wiping with wet tissue paper is reported to be effective against the nerve agents soman, VX, and mustard gas. Finally, avoid wearing oil-based creams or sunscreens, etc.
Rubber Bullets: It’s gonna hurt. No way around this.
LRAD: Loud fuckers but some people aren’t effected by it. Ear plugs help.
This is important and keep in mind this is my own opinion of the types of groups you will meet at a protest. What group you are with depends on what you want to do that day. Feel like relaxing and just protesting? Find a UFPJ (United For Peace and Justice) type group or anywhere there’s strollers with babies in them.
Wanna be where the action might be? Look for the black bloc’s red and black flags, there’s your party people.
Liberal Democrats – This is your social protester. Do not look down on them Captain Anarchy, you’re at the same protest. They usually make up a bulk of the demonstrations and you can find them easily by their party’s candidate most likely in placard form en masse.
Socialists and Communists – Do you like free paper? If so join this group. They wear red and sometimes green but if you see a USSR flag you’re probably in the right place. They give you so many free pamphlets and newspapers of theirs it can be overwhelming. They’ll hold the line in most cases but some of them have an attitude of “not making trouble” for the cops because they are workers also so be wary if your not about that authoritarian love.
Anarchists/Black Bloc – These asshats are up for anything. Look for those dressed in all black with black and red flags. At the very least they’re you’re best bet at being protected if/when the police try to charge in. Although that’s a 50/50 because there’s some who run at the first sight of a cop coming near them.
Personally I march with the Anarchists and their Black Bloc. I go as a medic since I have training in basic first aid (volunteer firefighters all have to go through such training) and generally don’t get too involved unless my help is needed. I go with them because I have a knack for catching what we call “agent provocateurs”.
These are the 6 foot ninjas that are goading you to set something on fire or break shit. Don’t. Instead, if you’re confident, call them out for it.
No way around it, you got got.
I truly wish I had a general answer for you but given the USA PATRIOT ACT you can be held without talking to a lawyer. Anything goes here. They can charge you with whatever they want but most charges get dismissed.
In my experience they used sleep deprivation by blasting gospel music in the holding pens at a parking garage that had fence-like cells. Then bring you to the jail for processing where they might make you do humiliating things. For example, I was pulled into a shower area with 6 other people and we had to strip and hop like a frog.
Oh how the authorities love their petty games.
But you knew the risk. You knew if captured your enemy they would not be nice. Right?
Chances are you’re going to be a “catch and release” so the State can dwindle the numbers at the protest and put fear in the hearts of others around you. If you had the NLG’s (National Lawyer’s Guild) number on your arm and they actually give you a phone call, make it to them. They got me out right away.
Otherwise enjoy your bologna and cheese.
No tips for jail life other than to keep to yourself and don’t snitch!
Jay Emerson is Founder of the New York Pirate Party and a long time political activist.
He grew up in Farmingville, NY and is actively involved with numerous Immigrant Rights groups on Long Island. He was a medic from the very start of Occupy Wall Street in NYC.
New York Pirate Party can be found on Twitter, and as we speak they are accepting new members without membership fees: https://twitter.com/NYPirateParty