Protest has always been an integral part of American history, whether we’re fighting for independence, the right to vote, or racial justice and equality, a fight that continues today. Whatever you’re protesting for, it’s important to prepare before you go. Here are some national and local resources to help you stay informed, aware of legal considerations and physically safe while protesting.
American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU has been a defender of individual rights for one hundred years and provides numerous downloadable “Know Your Rights” guides.
First Amendment Center – Freedom Forum Institute
The Freedom Forum raises awareness of First Amendment rights through education and advocacy and works to facilitate relationships between the media and the public. Their website includes an in-depth protest primer that includes interactive examples.
Movement for Black Lives
M4BL provides resources for protesters including tactics to stay safe, assess risks, and guard against infiltration and misinformation. They also provide a list, subdivided by state, county, and city, of “Verified Bail Funds.”
National Lawyers Guild
Since 1937, this association’s mission has been to serve the people “by valuing human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests.” The Guild defends the First Amendment rights of protesters through their Mass Defense and Legal Observer programs.
Protect the Protest
An initiative through several nonprofit organizations to “defend dissent” and shield “activists, community organizers, journalists, and small media organizations” from SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). Protect the Protest can help connect protesters to legal representation and financial aid.
Pennsylvania’s branch of the ACLU has created this guide specifically for protesters, taking Pennsylvania state law into account.
CivicCLP is your place to learn about civic life and the importance of the First Amendment through Library programs, services and information resources.
Pittsburgh National Lawyer’s Guild
The Pittsburgh chapter of the NLG has provided “Know Your Rights” trainings, can provide legal observers to protests if invited and has recently established a support group for those charged with felonies for protesting.
Pittsburgh’s POISE Foundation has created the Human Equity and Justice Fund, which provides rapid response mini-grants to Black-led organizations supporting frontline racial equity work and youth-led social change.
PublicSource has created a “Public Safety” section that includes video and news articles on local safety issues. Comprised of a diverse team of reporters and editors, PublicSource provides extensive coverage of protests, policing and Pittsburgh’s power structure.
Protesting can be hard on mental health. This local Pittsburgh mental health advocacy organization offers emergency financial support for Black Pittsburghers in need of therapy. Steel Smiling provides education and resources on how people and organizations can handle mental health issues.
In addition to their “What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know” series, the virtual forums, town halls and Facebook events organized by 1Hood Media are valuable resources for what everyone needs to know about issues impacting Pittsburgh’s Black community.