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How to Protest without Violence

For your protest to succeed, you need passion -- but don’t let your passion reach a boiling point. Keep your protest peaceful, and you’ll achieve better results. For more information on social movements, go to "":


  • : Organizing a protest can have serious consequences, especially in places that restrict freedom of assembly. Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations, and be sure you know your rights.
  • Step 1: Determine your aims Pinpoint your aims. Although a protest expresses opposition or disapproval, also use it to get across what you support.
  • Step 2: Decide on the form of protest Decide what form the protest will take. Marches, rallies, vigils, sit-ins, strikes, and boycotts are all effective methods. Choose the one that best fits your purpose.
  • Step 3: Choose a location and time Choose a location big enough to accommodate the expected number of protesters. If you can, pick a place with historical or cultural significance. To add symbolic meaning, choose a date for the protest that coincides with the anniversary of a well-known event.
  • Step 4: Apply for permits Investigate local regulations and apply for permits if your group requires them.
  • Step 5: Pick a slogan Come up with a nonviolent slogan or chant that is easy to remember and works well both out loud and in print. Symbols and actions can convey your point in any language.
  • TIP: Clothing can also convey symbolic meaning.
  • Step 6: Delegate Designate a leader to act as spokesperson. If the group is especially big, designate team leaders as well to oversee certain tasks and help with crowd control.
  • Step 7: Invite respected leaders Invite respected political, cultural, and religious leaders who support your cause. Recognizable faces can lend legitimacy and help calm a crowd, if necessary.
  • Step 8: Gather contact info Keep a record of all planned protest participants and gather information for emergency contacts and resources like lawyers and human-rights organizations.
  • Step 9: Train participants Set up a meeting with protesters ahead of the demonstration. Run through what will happen at the protest itself, and discuss emergency procedures.
  • TIP: Distribute wallet-size cards to demonstrators with phone numbers to call for legal and medical help.
  • Step 10: Think about contacting the media Consider circulating a press release. In areas where restrictions on freedom exist, press attention, especially from international outlets, can help prevent abuses by authorities. However, keep in mind that the press can also exacerbate tension, and state-run media may have ulterior motives.
  • Step 11: Respect public and private property During the protest, respect property. Your protest will become less effective if the public sees images of demonstrators breaking windows, looting, or defacing buildings.
  • Step 12: Keep speeches short Make precise demands, rather than a laundry list of grievances. Keep speeches forceful but not incendiary, and avoid profanity or violent imagery. Setting a nonthreatening tone may help avoid arrest.
  • TIP: If the police do arrest you, do not resist them. Doing so may result in bodily harm.
  • Step 13: Disperse peacefully At the protest’s conclusion, disperse calmly and peacefully. Don’t forget to clean up after yourselves -- nobody likes a protester who litters.
  • FACT: Mohandas K. Gandhi, whose civil disobedience helped end British rule in India, called his philosophy of nonviolent resistance Satyagraha, Sanskrit for 'the force of truth.'

You Will Need

  • Something to protest
  • Location
  • Permits
  • Slogan
  • Emergency contact information
  • Protesters
  • Cool head
  • Wallet-size cards

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