How to plan a peaceful protest

Peaceful protest is a powerful tool for political statements and a constitutionally protected form of expression. When executed effectively, a public demonstration can broadcast your message to a significant audience.


    Gather like-minded people and make a case for why a protest action is necessary. Be sure to exchange contact information and keep people updated throughout the planning process.


    Designate an effective mode of leadership or agree to opt for a more open, nonhierarchical structure.


    With your fellow protesters, carefully articulate what goals you hope to accomplish, what message you wish to convey, and what audience you seek to reach. Alternatively, you may want to stage a looser, more open-ended demonstration.


    At public universities, free speech that does not incite violence or destruction is legally protected under the First Amendment. At private universities, there are usually set policies for handling speech. All universities may impose what are called time, place, and manner restrictions that specify when and where protests may occur. These policies must not be discriminatory and must be content-neutral. Read up on your school’s policies on student gatherings.


    Make sure that your protest complies with time, place, and manner restrictions and that it is held in a public forum. Do not block doors or physically prevent any other event, demonstration, or speech from taking place.


    Let your school know the details of when and where you are choosing to lead your protest so they can help ensure safety.


    Get the word out. A large turnout, a media presence, and a crowd of onlookers will bring more attention to your event.


    Make sure that you and your fellow protesters know your rights so you can properly advocate for yourselves during and after the event. If you choose to engage in acts of civil disobedience, understand the possible consequences.


    While free speech is protected under the law, short of a proportionate response in self-defense, violent protest is never justified. You risk arrest or disciplinary repercussions if you engage in violence or unlawful acts.


    Do it! Speak out on issues that you are passionate about, especially if you believe that exercising your speech rights will help accomplish your goals.

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