We are all exhausted from the events of the past week. Another Black man murdered by police in broad daylight, another militant response to non-violent protestors; another brutal reminder that property is so often valued higher than Black life in the United States.
It should be unfathomable that we'd find ourselves in this position in the year 2020, 60-some odd years after the Civil Rights Movement, 30 years after the L.A. riots sparked by the beating of Rodney King, five and a half years after police gunned down 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Yet, here we are. Again.
We are angry and we are grieving again — for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor, for Ahmaud Arbery, for the countless Black lives cut short at the hands of a racist system. And as the protests that sprung up across the country all through this weekend show, we’re fed up.
Go beyond the hashtag — Whether or not you took to the streets or plan to, maintaining the energy of the protests and directing it in the right places will be especially important as public demonstrations simmer down. Thanks to the internet, you can (and should) continue to show up for the cause right from your couch. Here are some ways to use the resources at hand to make a meaningful contribution:
To help Minnesota — The Minnesota Freedom Fund and Reclaim the Block, two Minnesota organizations dedicated to uplifting the community and fighting the unjust system of incarceration, have received an outpouring of financial support in the last few days. Both are now asking supporters to direct their donations elsewhere.
Back at home — Protestors were arrested en masse this weekend all over the country. In addition to contributions toward the efforts in Minneapolis, help out locally, too, by donating to bail funds and signing petitions. And of course, support your local Black Lives Matter chapter.
Lock it down
Protesting today comes with added risks thanks to social media and heightened surveillance efforts. Whether you got involved last week or plan to in the future, there are precautions you should take to keep yourself and the people around you safe from incrimination.
- Keep all related communications to encrypted apps such as Signal, which can be locked with a passcode in addition to the systems enabled to protect your device.
- Do a thorough check of any photos or videos you took to ensure you aren’t putting other protestors at risk by exposing their identities. When in doubt blur faces, or, even better, don’t post it. Already did? Delete it.
- Reconsider live-streaming and be wary of posting to sites like Facebook, which law enforcement can use to pinpoint individuals or find out the locations of demonstrations.
- Turn off all location services linked to your phone before heading out to a protest, and consider keeping the phone itself off altogether.
- Disable biometric unlocking systems such as fingerprint and face ID if possible, as these can be forcibly used to unlock your device without permission. Set up a strong passcode instead.
As Harlo Holmes, director of newsroom security at the Freedom of the Press Foundation told Wired: “The device in your pocket is definitely going to give off information that could be used to identify you.”
Use your platform
The ability for information to spread like rapid-fire is both the blessing and curse of social media. Use it to the advantage of the cause, not its detriment.
- Scanner apps like Police Scanner and 5-0 Radio Police Scanner can help you stay abreast of cops’ movements, which can in turn be used to keep the most at-risk protesters informed and out of harm’s way. The use of these apps has unsurprisingly skyrocketed over the past week.
- Report false fundraisers, and spread the word so other users don’t fall for them. Boost genuine fundraising efforts.
- Know your rights, and circulate useful information so other protestors know theirs too.
- If you’re seasoned in the act of protesting, share tips for those who are not. Doing so keeps everyone safer.
It’s easy to feel helpless — The internet is chaos at the best of times and we are far, far beyond those now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you are definitely not alone. Take a breather from social media, check-in with your loved ones, and ingest some wholesome content — then get back out there refreshed and clearer-headed, and pick up where you left off.