First of all, congratulations, and I’m sorry. Congratulations for raising a human being who cares enough to put their body on the line to defend and protect their and others’ communities. I’m sorry this courage comes with possible costs. As a mother and a protester, I wanted to make sure you have information to calm your anxiety and keep your kiddos safe.

In general, our kiddos know more than we give them credit for and are completely capable of taking care of themselves and their comrades. It’s also true that sometimes our kiddos think they are more capable than they actually are. Whatever the case, do your best to communicate with them well before they hit the streets to make sure they are prepared and know that you have their back.

The following is a brief list of things you might want to mention to them, and things you may want to consider or do yourself at different stages of the protest.

Before the Action:

Is your kiddo attending trainings or meetings in advance of the protest? Often groups will hold “training camps” to convey important safety information and group guidelines. If your youth is attending anything like this, please make sure the group that is conducting the training is well-organized and open to questions, and encourage your young adult to bring a friend or two along, even if those friends aren’t necessarily going to protest with them. You might even consider going yourself! If they aren’t being conducted by a group your kiddo already knows well, these trainings should be all-inclusive and welcoming to the community. Avoid and discourage attending any trainings that are conducted in secrecy by people you and your offspring aren’t already familiar with.

If they are able to go to a pre-protest training, they should find out how to identify medics (typically medics are identifiable by red crosses,) legal observers (typically legal observers wear green hats,) and others who can provide information during the protest. It’s good to form associations with trusted folks who can be asked for help during the course of the protest. Whether there is a training or not, it’s a good idea to ask if there will be any legal aid or jail support available should anyone be arrested. Having that information in advance can give you tremendous peace of mind if your young one is snatched up.

If there is no in-person pre-protest training, there may be information posted online or elsewhere. Encourage your family member to not be shy about asking for information in advance. Most open protests are organized by SOMEONE, usually a group of someones, and those organizers will want you to have access to information that will keep you safe.

Encourage your kiddo to participate with friends. While it is possible to go it alone, it’s not recommended to be out there on your own. If they do not have a buddy, offer to be there for them to check in periodically. Set a check-in time and a plan for what to do and who to call if they do not respond. If you have any friends who will also be attending, see if you can arrange an on-site check-in. This is not helicopter parenting. This is keeping your loved one safe. Hopefully, if your kiddo is woke enough to be out in the streets defending the lives and rights of others, they will understand that you want to defend and protect them. However, if they do not want to check in with you, encourage them to check in with a trusted friend, and try not to take it too personally…as long as they are checking in.

You might suggest the smaller group of protest buddies that your kiddo is involved with share their full legal names and birthdays with you, their family members, and trusted friends who are supporting them offsite. This will help if anyone is arrested, especially if there are any folks involved who do not have the same loving support you are providing. If you want to communicate in a private and secure way, have everyone download end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, such as Signal or Telegram.

Make sure your kiddo knows that they will want to follow the lead and listen to the voices of those who are most directly impacted by the consequences of any action they individually, or the group collectively, takes. Without judging, find a way to discourage any actions that might endanger those among them who are likely to be targeted for disproportionate retaliation. Encourage them to defend and protect those among them who are vulnerable to this targeting. If they’ve made a commitment to be there, they should be ready and willing to support the cause and take care of their comrades. Protesting is a group and community activity. There is no room for “lone wolf” actions. Hopefully all of the good parenting you’ve provided up to this point has instilled an understanding of structural imbalance and oppression. If not, if your kiddo is white or enjoys any structural privilege, you might want to discourage them from attending until they understand how to ensure they are not reproducing oppression in the streets.

The Day of the Action:

Make sure your kiddo has a healthy meal and dresses for success! 

  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Multiple layers & cover skin
  • Goggles or shatter-resistant glasses for front line
  • MASK UP! 
  • A bicycle helmet can be helpful in case of police aggression

Ask if they’ve packed a bag with some or all of the following items:

  • First Aid kit with bandages, antibacterial ointment, aspirin or ibuprofen, gauze, alcohol wipes, disinfectant, and any essential medication in original packaging
  • Dry bandana
  • Baby wipes – water-based – OR – paper towels in solution of baking soda/water
  • Eye drops
  • Pen, paper, markers
  • Snacks and water
  • Backup battery/charger
  • Important numbers
  • Towels & extra clothes in second bag for extra cushion

If you have a phone number for legal aid, it’s a good idea for your kiddo to write it in permanent marker somewhere on their body – preferably hidden, so it doesn’t look like they are asking to get arrested. Advise them to watch their backs, always have an exit route, try not to get separated from their group, and stay centered on their personal limitations and boundaries. The day of the protest is NOT the time to plan some sort of daring, heroic act. Those kinds of actions take a lot of time to plan and are generally carried out by groups of people with emergency exit plans in advance.

During the Action

Try not to worry too much! Almost every protest I’ve been to is a life-affirming experience where people on the ground take good care of each other. Regardless, your little birdy has flown from the nest for now, and no amount of worrying will help. See if you can find some livestreams of action on the ground to keep track of the general tenor of the action. If you have other parent friends whose kids are attending – check in with them to relieve the stress. Breathe. Take a bubble bath. Do those self-care things you do when you are worried. Try not to check in too much. You want your kiddo to be alert and not worried about you worrying about them.

What to Expect if They Get Arrested

Getting arrested in a protest can be a frightening thing for the person being arrested and the loved ones who support them. Generally speaking, though, the jail time is minimal and if a whole group is arrested, there is some degree of solidarity among the protesters that can be helpful in surviving the situation. Usually there are lawyers willing to do pro-bono work to get protesters released and charges dropped, but that doesn’t really help you when you are worrying about your sweet baby, I know. (Sorry for any kiddos reading this, but most parents will ALWAYS consider you their “sweet baby.” They just will. Get over it, man! It’s because we love you!) If you were provided information in advance, go ahead and get in touch with those folks. If not, contact an organizer of the protest to see if there is any organized jail support. Usually jailed protesters are released within 24 hours. Arrest and arraignment records are public, and you should be able to access them on the internet.

Often times, supporters will congregate outside of the jail for a “noise rally” to let the jailed protesters know folks are there for them. Organizers will also typically order food and comfort items to give to jailed protesters after they are released. You should be welcomed and celebrated by organizers doing jail support, and it’s typically a very safe place for you to be if you want to be around other people while you wait for your loved one to be released.

Once the jailed protesters have been released, if charges are not dropped, the appointed lawyer, or the lawyer you hire, will work with you on your case. It is often true that charges do not stick and, barring extremes, most protesters will not even see real jail time. However, it is important to document everything immediately to ensure the best case possible. 


I hope the information contained in this zine has been helpful to you. Please feel free to reach out if there is any information that you feel is unclear or incorrect, or any important information you feel needs to be added. This blog post will be a living document until I’m sure we’ve covered everything we can reasonably cover, and then I will publish it as a zine.

Stay safe, protect your communities, and see you in the streets.


Unruly Mom

Crustacean Zine Library

Oh Shit! What Now?

For more information, please refer to our other zine “Protest 101.”