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Black Lives Matter

What is Protest?

Organized protests are important to the United States, so much so that it is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Protests are ways for Americans to voice their objection or disapproval of particular ideas or policies. The purpose of protest is to sway public opinion or to influence policy, sometimes aiming for direct legislative reform. Protests come in many different forms, as you can see on the right. Though many think of mass demonstrations and marches, there are many other forms of protest as well. Not everyone can do everything listed; play to your strengths and do what you can. Most importantly, don't feel guilty for not doing everything. Each part has participants and each part is important.

Art as Protest

Art can also be a form of protest, whether it's visual representations, video, or the written word. It can also be used as a form of therapy. Do not underestimate the power of artistic expression.

Artwork Lest We Forget Images of the Black civil rights movement, artist: Robert Templeton

Black Man behind bars made of Stripes on American flag

Title Unknown, Artist Unknown

Artwork MLK Jr. in front of American flag with quote "I have a dream"

Title Unknown, Artist Unknown

Vote: Local and Federal

Voting is one of the most important things you can do to bring about change, both on the federal level and the local level.
Many positions, including Sheriff, are elected and few people focus on these ballots. If you want to bring about change, start at your polling place.

According to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, approximately 33% of registered voters in Chicago voted in the municipal elections.

This is compared to over 60% in the 2018 midterm elections and 71% in the 2016 general election.

View more election statistics here.

Attend a Peaceful Protest

Mass demonstrations and peaceful protests are some of the most visible ways to protest.

Mass demonstrations include marches, sit-ins, blockades, rallies, and many other organized group gatherings expressing discontent.
Mass demonstrations can get violent or unsafe for a variety of reasons, so it is important to be vigilant and protect yourself.

How to find a protest in your area:

  • Join Community pages and local civil rights pages on Facebook. They frequently post upcoming events.
  • Read local newspapers. Some of them are providing information on upcoming protests, as well as how past protests went.
  • Ask around. If you know someone already very involved in the protests or providing supplies, ask them where they get their information.
  • Remember that every town is different. Investigate various communication avenues to see where your information may be posted.

If you are having trouble finding a protest in your area, you can organize one yourself!

Here are some tips on how to organize a peaceful protest.

Research your Local Police Department

Research your local police department and their training of law enforcement.

Get to know the policies of your department and become familiar with their website.

How to get involved:

  • Investigate whether your police force uses body-cams or takes de-escalation training. If you cannot find information on this, make an inquiry over the phone or through an online form, if available.
  • Attend public hearings and voice your opinion on city issues.
  • Fill out surveys on their website. This can give you more of a voice on particular issues.
  • Look over their budget, available online. It includes how money is allocated, as well as current initiatives and training they currently have in place.

Donate to Organizations that Support the Mission

There are many different funds you can donate to if you want to show support.
However, you need to do your research to make sure you are donating to a reputable organization.

Some fundraising sites are not reliable or endorsed by official entities.

How to Tell if a Charity is Legitimate

  • If they only take donations through text, over the phone, or in cash, be wary. Most charities have a secure method of paying.
  • If they say 100% of your donation goes directly to victims, you might want to investigate further. Most charities have administrative costs to which some of the money is allocated.
  • Check out their website. Can you find their Mission or About section? Are you able to find information about how the donations are used? If not, you might want to look at other organizations.
  • Find out if the donations is tax-deductible. Charitable organizations, or 501(c)(3) organizations, are tax-deductible. If the charity you are looking at is not tax-deductible or doesn't have a 501(c)(3) designation, they are not registered with the IRS as a charitable organization. Do more investigation.
  • If you would rather not give money or provide card information, you can donate supplies like food and water.
  • If it seems fake, it probably is.

Join Local Action Groups and Committees

Local change happens when citizens get involved, not just in protests, but in meetings.
If you are nervous about going to a protest, or if that's not the kind of work you are interested in, join a group that pushes for new legislation, community programs, and education.

Contact your Government Officials

Don't forget that elected officials work for you.
Remember to voice your concerns, call representatives urging them to vote for particular acts or laws, and remind them why they are in their position. Expressing your support or disapproval of elected officials does not start and end with election day.