How To Stage A DIY Mass Protest

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Pro tip: The proliferation of camera-equipped smartphones makes capturing images from your protest easy. For even more dramatic shots, USB Fever sells wide-angle lenses that can be attached to your cell phone via magnet. And an Eye-Fi memory card will automatically upload images via Wi-Fi to your computer — or directly to Flickr or Facebook. If you’re expecting water-cannons or overly-aggressive officers, opt for a super-tough and waterproof camera such as the Casio Ex-G1, and perhaps an indestructible laptop such as Panasonic’s Toughbook 31.


Cheap digital video cameras are handy for documenting police abuses for later litigation. But be careful with that particular gadget. It can capture illegal or unseemly behavior on your own side. And in some jurisdictions, recording audio can get you arrested on illegal surveillance charges – what’s needed is a lower-tech camera that captures images, but not sound.

Of course, even low-tech tools can get you into trouble. In Providence, Rhode Island, you’ll need prior permission if you want to shout through a bullhorn. Sometimes the most important technology is the pen used to fill out a permit.

Pro tip: If your cell phone doesn’t take video, a cheap, compact option is the Flip Ultra HD, a popular choice among journalists.


Unless you’re embarking on a hunger strike, it’s a losing proposition to pit famished, fatigued protesters against well-fed authorities taking shifts. The hi-tech solution: take to the streets with a camel-back full of electrolytes and a supply of MREs. Extreme situations might even justify Dexedrine.

An old-fashioned approach to meals can have its perils. During the San Francisco dockworker strike of 1934, amid a pitched battle between longshoremen and riot police, there was a peculiar pause in the action. “As if a work whistle had blown, each side withdrew for a midday break,” writes Kevin Starr, California’s official state historian. “Toward one o’clock Harry Bridges was eating at a union dining hall at the corner of the Embarcadero and Mission Street… Suddenly shots rang out, followed by yelling and screams. Looking outside, Bridges could see the police driving back his men with clubs and gunfire. During the lull of the lunch hour, the police had regrouped themselves into two phalanxes, one to the north of the strikers’ headquarters, the other to the south.”

Pro tip: Pack plenty of wanter. The CamelBak mule holds 100 ounces. (Good news, anarchists and communists: it comes in black or red.) In case potable water is scarce, equip your protest kit with an ultraportable SteriPEN water purifier.  And if you find yourself becoming overagitated — never a good idea during a mass protest — calm yourself with Breathing Zone, a handy iPhone app that’ll help keep the typical stress of fomenting unrest somewhat in check.

More on Techland:

How Egypt Cut Off the Internet (and How a U.S. ‘Kill Switch’ Might Work)

How Libya’s Second City Became the First to Revolt

World Web War I: Why Egypt’s Digital Uprising is Different

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