Prepare for detainment, pepper spray, or arrest.
“Both Tampa and Charlotte have passed a number of ordinances regulating the possession of certain items that are perceived as tools of civic disruption at demonstrations,” writes Andy Sellars, the guidebook’s author. (Free Press site: also see what not to have on your person.. http://www.freepress.net/blog/2012/08/27/what-pack-protest?akid=3809.9962749.isTCIy&rd=1&t=2
There is a lot of nuance in these rules, but they boil down to this: If local, state or federal officials think journalists want to cause “harm or disruption,” they could be in trouble.
With that in mind, Sellars suggests that all journalists pack these five items:
A government-issued ID
Cash and/or a credit card to pay any bond that is required to ensure a court appearance. These bonds can be as much as a few hundred dollars.
Quarters in case the jail provides only a payphone
A press credential (or letter from a sponsoring news organization)
A printout of an attorney’s phone number, or the number of one of the legal assistance hotlines developed for the convention. Journalists may want to consider writing this information on their bodies in the event that police confiscate personal items.
Experts like Natasha Lennard at the International News Safety Institute suggest a range of other items that can be invaluable for mobile journalists covering civil unrest. The INSI’s recommendations include the following suggestions:
In case of tear gas, carry a bandana soaked in onion, lemon or vinegar, which neutralizes irritation.
If there’s a chance you might be pepper-sprayed, don’t wear face cream or cosmetics. They burn on contact.
Use earplugs to help neutralize sound cannons.
Prepare a backpack with supplies to last a day: lightweight raingear, energy bars, water and spare batteries for electronic equipment.
Pack a medical kit and know how to use it.
For more information on how to pack for a protest, check out this Storify post featuring photos and advice from mobile journalists who have covered conflict areas.
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