A march or a protest is a strategic way to address and bring awareness to street harassment and related issues. Holding a public demonstration helps educate the public about these issues and allows your supporters to speak their opinions. Here are the key steps you should take to conduct a successful march:
- Choose a theme of your protest that you will use to bring awareness to street harassment. “Slut Walk” and “The Goddess Walk” have been recent marches that address women’s freedom to dress how they choose without having to fear rape and harassment. (Hollaback! sites in Alberta, Chicago, and Los Angeles have all participated in their community’s Slut Walk.)
- Establish a support system of organizations that are interested in becoming co-sponsors of the march and individuals who can help with planning the event.
- Organize a march/protest at a safe place or someplace where the particular issue is prevalent. (For example, when planning a street harassment march, you may want to conduct the march in an area with many complaints). Communicate with your supporters to be sure that they feel safe at the location where the march will be held. Set a time that is convenient for most supporters.
- Reach out to potential speakers who are knowledgeable about street harassment and every other issue that the march seeks to address. You might consider reaching out to people who have experienced street harassment, bystanders who have intervened, and people who work for organizations that address street harassment. A good group of speakers will be diverse, including people of different genders, races, sexual orientations, ages, and abilities.
- Make signs and banners that are eye-catching and that bring attention to the seriousness of street harassment and other issues being addressed. (For example, you may have supporters create banners with statistics showing the prevalence of street harassment or signs that show pictures of harassers.)
- Make sure that your message is inclusive and that you do not alienate anyone who may be a supporter. Before the march, talk with your supporters about appropriate messages for signs and banners to make sure that they represent the message of the march without singling out or offending a particular group of people. Always encourage diversity and unity at your march.
- Promote your march by talking about it with other groups and organizations, by using your social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, and by handing out flyers to those who might be interested in attending.
- Invite the press by sending out a press release before your event. You can send your press release to local newspapers, to websites and blogs, and to other organizations that may support your message.
- Keep the peace by making sure that your supporters are not breaking laws that may result in arrests. Blocking traffic, failure to disperse after being ordered to, and loitering are all actions that may result in arrest. Some cities may require you to obtain a permit for certain activities, such as using a microphone outside. If you are in the United States, call your local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to determine whether you will need a permit for your march. If you are concerned about police harassment, contact the National Lawyers Guild and request legal observers.
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