Notes from a Generation X Protest Mama

Hey there. This is somebody’s Mama. I am not your Mama, but I can dip in today. As a mother who is watching my child, and other children, peacefully protest, I just thought a few notes from the ancient days of the 80’s could be helpful. I did a large amount of sit ins, protests, marches, and other types of protests, so I have some experience that may help. Of course, you are a new generation and have more tools. But some things transcend decades.

Wondering what to take to a demonstration when Skittles aren’t enough?

  • Head Gear…on your head. This includes construction helmets, bicycle helmets, motorcycle helmets, Goalie helmets, or anything in that kind. You have one nugget on the top of your neck, and you need the gray stuff in it to be protected. A lot of memories have been lost due to badly imitated Karate Kid kicks to the head after school.
  • Facial coverings. We didn’t spend all those hours in front of the VCR watching the Dread Pirate Roberts mask to forget how useful they are. They help fight against facial recognition software. They help offer a bit of protection from Covid 19 and other germs that could be spread when people cough after being gassed or sprayed. Take an extra just in case the first gets covered in some chemical agents launched into the crowd.
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  • Facial Make Up. If you remember the 80’s, you probably remember the Scorpion’s singing “Rock you like a Hurricane” while wild women danced with faces painted in stripes and heavy eyeliner. No? Then how about G.I. Joe and all the camo make up kits sold at Halloween shops.
  • Goggles or safety glasses. Think ski goggles, shop glasses, or that kind of thing. An essential for keeping those nasty projectiles from blinding the eyes.
  • Black T Shirt or Hoodie. Just like the outcast girl in “Breakfast Club”, you too can be covered in oversized black clothing. But instead of shielding against the unbearable weight of pressures to conform to a suburban nightmare, you can protect your individual path to freedom by becoming indistinct in the crowd. A change of clothing in your backpack is good, too.
  • A cell phone. Keep in touch with each other using apps like Viber,  Signal Messenger, or Telegram Messenger.
  • A GoPro. Keep it on and stream. If your phone gets lost, you can still have footage. Be ready to hand it off to a friend.
  • Elbow and Knee pads. IF you can get these, use them every time. Falling, and being “helped to fall” by violent individuals, can endanger the joints you need to fully express your freedom of assembly (as part of your locomotion).
  • Lycra and nylon skin covering. Slide those arms and legs into some lycra. Wear long sleeved stretch lycra under shirts, and lycra under pants or shorts. Think aerobic work out wear. It will protect your skin from liquid attacks and other material irritants. It will at least help a bit.
Belle Isle Freedom March protester. Photo: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved.
  • Gloves, preferably heat resistant. Just in case hot cannisters are being lobbed through the air, it is good to be ready to grab them and put them in a traffic cone without burning fingers. Sequins are not recommended.
  • Umbrella. Pepper spray is a thing. It also helps to obscure body parameters.
  • Some cash or loose change. You may need to take the bus home, or grab a cab. Also, taking credit cards is discouraged since they can be easily lost.
  • Fanny pack or back pack. Snacks, water, antacid liquids, all these go here. Styptic pens and other small First Aid supplies can fit in with your black baggie.
  • Black baggie. This is a small shopping bag that contains a bag of snack chips. In that little silver lined goodness called mylar, are great munchies. We ate everything in mylar, powder, or plastic after school, so trust, it is a blessing. It also is great for putting a cell phone in to not be tracked.
  • The map. Now do not panic. It doesn’t have to be on paper. But there should be 3 routes on it, color coded. That way if things go badly, a color route can be passed via word of mouth in order to switch paths out of there. There always has to be a way planned to leave. Always have a plan. Hannibal from the ” A Team” would agree. Did you know that a certain pocket monster gaming app has great detailed street mapping?
  • Good footwear. Do not go to a protest without good walking shoes or boots. You may be on your feet a long time. Climbing fences in flip flops is not coolness.
  • Spray paint. Use this to blind the cameras of illegal violent filmers of you.
  • Hand Jive. You can developed a simple set of hand signs. Use them to send messages, direct crowds, and form human chains to transport supplies.
  • Pliers. These are great for extracting fragments of board or metal from shoes. (Totally not talking about cutting zip ties with the wire cutter part, not at all.)
  • The Bobby pin. Use it to disable zip ties.

This is just a bit of old school stuff, mixed with a new generation. If you are working in the first aid area, then there is a whole other list of things to think about there. I’ll be talking about that later on. From this Gen X’er, give ’em hell, kids. We got your back, creaking bones and all.

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