OPSEC for Activists, Part 2: Packing for a Protest

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Many protests are impromptu affairs, and you don’t always have prior knowledge that one is going to happen. In some cases, you may not have time to pack a bag beforehand, and even when you do have time, you’re not always thinking clearly. For these reasons (and more!) I recommend buying a cheap backpack (if you can), and using it as a dedicated protest “go kit.”

My own grab-and-go kit is what I refer to as a “clean bag.” This is because as important as it is to bring the things you need, it is even more important to make sure you’re not bringing anything that could endanger you or your peers, or result in serious criminal charges being brought against you in the event of an arrest and search of your possessions. Packing a “clean bag” not only means that I make sure I’m not bringing anything to a protest I don’t want to be caught holding, but actually that even when I’m NOT attending a protest, nothing contentious ever goes into that bag.

Things to AVOID bringing:
As I said before, what you bring is secondary in importance ONLY to what you make sure you do not bring. These are things I make sure don’t go into my clean bag EVER:

  • Anything sharp: no knives, no scissors (I carry a pair of trauma shears instead), nothing pointy at all.
  • No weapons: don’t bring baseball bats, brass knuckles, those little cat keychains, or anything else considered to be a weapon, if you can possibly avoid it.
  • No “burglary tools“: lockpicks, hammers, wrenches, etc.
  • Nothing explosive: No matches, no flares, etc. Being caught somewhere you’re not supposed to be, carrying “incendiary devices” is pretty much never a good thing.
  • No alcohol: It may seem silly to mention, but don’t bring booze to a protest. At best, you get popped for public intoxication; at worst, you get accused of trying to make incendiary devices. It’s not worth it.
  • No drugs: Don’t bring any illegal drugs at all (even weed, even where decriminalized), and never bring more than 3 days worth of prescription medication with you. If you are bringing your prescription, make sure it is in its original packaging, complete with your legal name and dosing information on the bottle.
  • No paint, spray paint, etc.: Getting caught with paint supplies during a protest where any kind of vandalism may be taking place tends to look real bad. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I am going to say “don’t get caught with paint.”
  • Oil-based makeup, lotion, and/or sunblock: Oil-based products can cause chemical agents like pepper spray and tear gas to stick to your skin, intensifying their effects. If you’re not sure whether or not your sunblock is oil-based, you’re far better off covering up in light clothing and skipping the sunblock altogether.
  • Contact lenses: as oil-based sunblock can cause chemical agents to stick to your skin, contact lenses can trap pepper spray and/or tear gas against your corneas, potentially resulting in permanent blindness.As an added precaution, it is generally best to make sure that anything essential that you do bring (medication, ID, house keys, phone) stays on your immediate person rather than being put into your bag, as arrest is always a possibility, and sometimes you will be separated from your bag (or may need to abandon it to make a hasty getaway), and you want to make sure you can still take your meds and get into your house.

    So what should actually go into your bag? All kinds of things

    The Essentials:

    If you’re planning on attending a protest, the following items are bare essentials you should bring along, in order to sustain you and keep you from being reliant on the people around you (who may or may not actually be prepared to assist anyone), and to mitigate some negative outcomes which may arise. Some of them may not seem necessary, but a majority of what seems excessive weighs next to nothing and will make a huge difference in the event of arrest or injury.

  • Water: And I’m not talking a little 16.9 oz bottle, either. Water is heavy, water is important, and if you can carry a gallon of it in your pack to cover yourself and someone who may not be able to carry their own, you’re not just shouldering your burden, you’re taking care of others around you and alleviating the work load of organizers and medics.
  • Snacks: Hanger (that’s hunger, plus anger) is real. Hanger is the mindkiller. Hanger is the little-death that brings total obliteration. You must feed your hanger. Let it pass over and through you, and when it has gone, you will know you were right to bring those snacks. Being hungry can take a bad situation, and make it worse. Making sure to keep your blood sugar at reasonable levels can make all the difference at a protest. You’re putting your body on the line for a cause, that body needs to be fueled!
  • Your ID: Plenty of people will argue with me on this one, but the fact is that if you are going to get arrested, having your ID on you may be the difference between being cited and released, and being held in custody.  You probably don’t need to bring your entire wallet, but it is almost always worth grabbing your ID and sticking it in your pocket (not your bag) on your way out the door.
  • Prescription medication: If you are on prescription drugs of any kind, and missing a dose is going to be a problem, do yourself a favor and bring along 3 days worth of your medicine *IN ITS ORIGINAL PACKAGING*. Make sure the packaging has the dosing information and your legal name on it, and make sure to keep it on your person (again, in a pocket, not in your bag.)
  • Emergency cash: You never know at what point you may need to beat a hasty exit. Bringing emergency cash can enable you to hop onto public transportation, dive into a taxi, or wander into a coffee shop to buy a latte and blend in with the rest of their clientele. You don’t need to bring much, but it’s always worth it to have a little cash on hand.
  • Comfortable shoes, and clothing you can move in easily: You never know how long you’ll be out, and you also never know how quickly you’ll need to get away. It may also be a good idea to pack a small change of clothes in your bag, for a variety of reasons. For one, if you need to get away, ducking into a restroom and swapping out your clothes can help you disguise yourself. Additionally, if you’re exposed to chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, you may want to change outside and put your clothes into a seal-able plastic bag before bringing them into your home.
  • Emergency information: write crucial phone numbers (legal hotline, the co-worker who may need to cover your shift, the housemate who might have to feed the cat or walk the dog, a friend who might be able to bail you out, the babysitter who may need to stay late) on your arm, in permanent marker. Other things you may want to write on your arm include allergies, medical conditions that first responders should know about, etc. Arrest and injury are always possibilities at pretty much any protest, and permanent marker on skin is the best way to make sure that you never get separated from your emergency information.Additionally, in the event that emergency medical attention is needed, and you cannot advocate for yourself, having that information on your body can be extremely helpful.

    Non-essentials:

    There are some things which, while not entirely necessary, may well be of use if you’re planning on attending a protest. A majority of these items are geared towards helping you and the people around you, and are generally intended to extend the length of time you may be able to stay out in the streets.

  • A first aid kit: Specifically and especially gauze, duct tape, ice packs, ACE bandages, and extra water. Even if you don’t know how to treat injuries, carrying extra supplies is useful if you’re up for it.
  • A mask: Even if you intend to be the most peaceful protester who ever lived, there are still a million excellent reasons why you may not want to have your face associated with a demonstration, and any demonstration can change in a matter of moments. Additionally, in the event of tear gas, a dampened bandanna is better protection for your lungs than nothing at all. (Isn’t it a good thing you’re also carrying extra water?)
  • A notebook (and pen!): Jot down police officer names, street names, and times when you see shitty things happening. If you see someone being arrested, take notes on what you’re seeing, and be sure to share your notes with any legal organizations doing protester support work.
  • A camera: Read this, and then go out with your camera and start recording cops doing terrible things. Make sure to also read this before doing anything with your photos/videos.
  • A gas mask or respirator: You probably won’t need one. In most cases, even if tear gas has been deployed, as long as you’re not running into it, you are probably fine just covering your mouth and leaving the immediate area. However, if you have respiratory issues, do not intend to leave a tear gas-filled area, and/or intend to walk into tear gas, you may want either a gas mask or a respirator and goggles.
  • Liquid antacid and water: Because tear gas and pepper spray both burn, it can be extremely useful to carry a mixture of liquid antacid and water in a spray bottle to apply to affected areas. Make sure to use unflavored antacids, as the peppermint-flavored ones often burn a bit when applied to the eyes. Milk of magnesia is generally a best bet, as it’s got a higher concentration of magnesium hydroxide (the antacid ingredient) than do most liquid antacids, and it also doesn’t contain the same additives as others. A 50-50 mix of liquid antacid and water is considered ideal.
  • Rescue remedy: Yeah, it’s hippie as shit, but it makes some people feel calm, and it’s unlikely to hurt anyone or anything.

There are plenty of other things you may or may not want to bring with you, depending on the role you intend to play at a demonstration, but it’s most important to consider what the negative ramifications of being caught with those items may be, and also important to leave anything that can’t be replaced at home. If you’re planning on bringing any of the items outlined in the first part of this guide, make sure they’re in a separate bag, which can be easily discarded if things are beginning to look like they may lead to arrests, and try to be conscious of what traces of yourself you may be leaving behind if and when you do drop that bag.

Protests are not safe spaces, and regardless of what any organizer may tell you, the risk of police brutality and/or arrest is always there. Planning accordingly can be the difference between a cite-and-release and a felony, and can also be the difference between going home or going to the hospital. This does not mean that you should stay home, it just means that proper preparation gives you and everyone around you your best chance at creating the change you want to see in the world. For more information about how to keep yourself safe before, during, and after an action, read this.

Eternal gratitude to @geminiimatt for reading this prior to release.

“Stupid” Is Not An Insult

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Today is World Down Syndrome Day. Today, people will be wearing blue and yellow together, and sporting mismatched socks, and standing in solidarity with people who have Down Syndrome. Today, people will be showing support for a group of people who are constantly told that their potential is defined by their diagnoses…

Today I am wearing black and grey, like I do most of the time. My socks don’t match, but they never do. Today, instead of making an Instagram-able gesture, I’m choosing to challenge the casual ableism within mainstream discourse. Today, I’m choosing to speak about the way many of us use intellectual and developmental disabilities as insults.

Like most of you, I was raised to believe that my value in this world was dependent on my intellect. I was taught that the worst thing I could be as a woman, as a person, was stupid. I was taught that only through cultivating intellectual pursuits and acquiring vast knowledge could I possibly be deserving of existence in modern society.

I was taught that it’s not okay to insult people on the basis of their gender, their religion, their sexuality, their race, their economic status, their physical ability, and a million other things they couldn’t possibly help… but for some reason, intellectual capacity was fair game. For some reason, I was taught that it’s perfectly okay to call people things like “idiot,” “imbecile,” or “moron,” despite the fact that none of us have any real control over our intellectual capacity. Despite the fact that, historically, those words are actually grounded in clinical diagnoses, and that throughout history, these diagnoses have been used to deprive people of agency. To deprive people of freedom. To deprive people of things like the right to reproduce. To this day, there are still places in the United States where people who are considered to be intellectually disabled are not allowed to vote.

When we accuse someone of being stupid, we are saying that it is an insult to be like someone with an intellectual or developmental disability. When we use pejoratives derived from a person’s perceived lack of intellect, we are effectively saying that we cannot think of anything worse than being a person with Down syndrome.

People with Down syndrome are PEOPLE. People with Down syndrome have aspirations, and frustrations, and emotions. They’re human beings, with value just like the rest of us. People with Down syndrome are worthy of respect, care, consideration, just like everyone else, and they do not deserve to be your default insult of choice.

There are a myriad words to choose from when expressing ourselves, and we don’t have to limit ourselves to ones who hurt innocent people when we use them. In fact, we can pretty much completely remove the pejoratives and slurs which derive their power from insulting wide swathes of the human population, in favor of words which far more accurately express our anger, frustration, or chagrin, and if we’re so smart that we’ve considered insulting someone else’s intelligence, then clearly we’re sharp enough to come up with a better word to express ourselves than “stupid,” or worse, “r*tarded.”

If you’re not sure where to go from here, consider consulting this wheel for ideas, and stop feeding into the societal norm of devaluing people on the basis of disabilities. You should be able to do better, and people with disabilities absolutely deserve better. If the best you can come up with is, “You’re so awful, you’re like people who have disabilities,” then you’re really, really not trying hard enough.

Wildlife ist Krieg: 10 Totally Kvlt Animals

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These animals are metal as fuck.


1. Hippopotamus

Hippos are territorial and aggressive, going so far as to fight crocodiles (and each other) over their shared aquatic habitats. Hippopotamuses will also fight off lions and hyenas seeking to prey on their young, and have been known to attack boats with humans in them. While hippos are vegetarian (they eat over 100 pounds of vegetation per day!), and not terribly territorial on land, they are credited in Africa with killing more humans per year than any other large animal on the continent. In the mosh pit of the animal kingdom, hippos are definitely that big beefy guy who will fuck your shit up if you accidentally get too close.


2. Moose

Have you ever been at a show and seen that guy on the edge of the mosh pit who’s tall, muscular, and wearing kinda showy bits of armor? That guy is a moose, except he’s wearing a chest plate instead of badass antlers. Moose are herbivores, and are also pretty chill, as long as you respect their personal space. Moose are polygamous, and will definitely fight each other over mating rights, and will attack anything they perceive to be a threat to their children, but much like that guy wearing those cool leather-and-iron bracers at the Eluveitie show, as long as you’re not threatening them or their loved ones, you’ll probably be okay. Just… try not to bump into them.


3. Black Kites and Brown Falcons

Researchers now believe that Black Kites and Brown Falcons in Australia have been intentionally setting brush fires to drive their prey (primarily lizards, frogs, and snakes) out of the protection of grass, and into their bellies. I don’t know about you, but “Arsonist Birds of Prey” sounds to me like a perfect deathcore band name.

4. Mongoose

Look at this lil’ critter. Just look. Adorable, no? This cutie pie is that scrawny, baby-faced teen you bump into at a black metal show and everything is cool until they notice that the guy to the right of you has a swastika tattoo so they literally tear his head off. The mongoose is a cute, fluffy animal so fierce that COBRAS consider them predators. Know what’s more metal than killing and eating deadly venomous snakes? Nothing, that’s what.


5. Black Widow Spider

The Black Widow spider is the most potently venomous spider known in existence on the North American continent. With venom fifteen times stronger than that of a rattlesnake, this spider’s bite packs quite a punch. In addition, the Black Widow spider (who is already perfectly dressed for any metal show, with her black carapace and an hourglass-shaped splash of red on her belly) is known to kill and eat her mate once she’s finished with him. That’s… pretty fucking metal.


6. Praying Mantis

OK, sure, Black Widows kill and eat their partners after mating, but you know what’s even more metal than that? The Praying Mantis, an insect which looks like it’s basically made of blades, takes it a step farther. During mating, female Mantises frequently decapitate their male counterparts. When they’re finished, the females of the species then eat the males… while they’re still alive. Whoa.


7. Blue-Ringed Octopus

The Blue-Ringed octopus is tiny. The Blue-Ringed octopus is cute. The Blue-Ringed octopus will Fuck. You. Up. This adorable little cephalopod, found mostly off the coasts of Australia, New Guinea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines has developed a rather amazing defense mechanism to keep itself from being easy prey for larger organisms: it produces not one, but TWO different deadly neurotoxins. One is used for immobilizing its prey, and the other is used to slay its predators. The Blue-Ringed octopus is generally shy, using its dull golden brown flesh to blend into its surroundings… but piss one off, and its glowing blue rings of death become extremely obvious. This deadly little cutie preys mostly on crustaceans and small fish, but only one milligram of its defense toxin is enough to kill a human.


8. Fugu

Look at this adorable little guy. Pufferfish and blowfish are super cute and smiley under average circumstances. As long as they’re not feeling threatened, they’re really pretty chill… so what makes them metal? These adorable little puffballs, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, produce a deadly neurotoxin considered to be hundreds of times stronger than your average, garden-variety cyanide. Where this gets metal as fuck is, their meat is also considered to be a delicacy in Japan. While the preparation of fugu is tightly regulated, that doesn’t stop amateurs from trying to prepare their catches themselves — and dying because of it. Fugu is so metal, it kills humans after it’s dead.


9. Cayuga Ducks

Cayuga ducks are black. Their feathers are black, their beaks are black, their legs and feet are black, their babies are black. They even lay black eggs. They’re basically the sludge metal of the water fowl world.


10. Thresher Sharks

If we’re being honest with ourselves, sharks are metal by default. Rows upon rows of teeth, that whole “being able to smell blood” thing, rending the flesh from their still-living prey in the most brütal fashion… so what makes Thresher Sharks worthy of a specific nod? This fuckin’ shark has a goddamn SCYTHE for a tail. And it uses it to stun and herd its prey for maximum munching efficiency.

Obligatory Trump Thinkpiece

The country is currently embroiled in heated debate after activists in Chicago shut down a Donald Trump rally Friday night. Many are praising the activists who worked together to deny Trump a platform to speak in their city, while others are fretting about what this may mean for the future of the First Amendment, and its protections of Freedom of Speech.

It’s true that the First Amendment protects citizens from governmental repercussions for their speech. It is also true that the First Amendment grants citizens the right to peaceably assemble without fear of legal ramifications. So what does this mean in terms of citizens gathering to shout down Trump? It’s very complex, so I’ll break it down for you:

Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a platform.

Are there any further questions?

OPSEC for Activists, Part 1: The Basics

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**I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY, THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE**

When attending a protest, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Your experiences during a demonstration may vary based on a lot of different factors. It is generally best practice to prepare as though you may be arrested, even if the risk factor seems very low.

Some things you may want to consider include:

  1. Lock your cell phone.
    A 2014 Supreme Court Ruling states that police must obtain a warrant before searching your cell phone. While it is possible that officers may act in defiance of this order, securing your phone with a PIN, passphrase, or fingerprint can help ensure that they do not violate this ruling without your knowledge.There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these three methods of securing your device:Fingerprints: provide very quick access, and cannot be shoulder-surfed; however, if a warrant is obtained for the search of your device, you can be legally compelled to unlock it.
    PIN: provides quick access, is easy to remember, and may be covered under your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination even if a warrant is obtained; however, a 4-digit PIN can be easy to guess/crack, and may also be easy to shoulder-surf.
    Passphrase: may be covered under your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination even if a warrant is obtained, and is more difficult to guess, crack, or shoulder-surf; however, a strong passphrase may be difficult to enter if you need to access your phone quickly, and strong passphrases may also be more difficult to remember.
    Any of these three options is a good choice, and all three are preferable to leaving your phone unlocked. Choose the solution that works best for you, and don’t worry too much about its imperfections.
  2. Encrypt your text messages.
    There are a variety of options at your disposal. Signal, Wickr, and even iMessage all provide reasonably secure messaging. The encryption all three provide means the plaintext content of your messages isn’t able to be captured by IMSI catchers (aka “Stingrays”) that law enforcement agencies set up to monitor protester communications.With Signal specifically, this protection extends to your phone calls as well as your text messages.As an added security measure, Signal for Android allows you to password-protect access to your text messages, and Wickr allows password protection on both the Android and iPhone platforms. The benefit of this password protection is that if you are using a fingerprint lock for your phone, law enforcement will still be legally unable to compel you to grant access to any password-protected databases, as passwords are protected under the Fifth Amendment.
  3. Check your pockets.
    Make sure you check your pockets before you head out. Be mindful of anything you may be carrying that could be construed as a weapon, and try not to bring anything you cannot bear to lose.Additionally, if you take any prescription medications, make sure to bring them with you in their original packaging. It is best to only bring a 3 day supply or so, and to leave the rest at home, in the event that you are somehow separated from your possessions and cannot get them back immediately (or at all.)
  4. Bring a mask.
    While it’s entirely possible you will have no need for it, bringing a bandanna or other face-covering can help in many ways. Wearing a mask is unlikely to protect your identity in any real and meaningful ways if you are seen doing something illegal, but it may help protect you from passive recognition by local law enforcement officers, thus shielding you from being singled out for future harassment based on your political ideologies.Additionally, wearing a mask can help keep you from being spotted by employers watching news coverage of events, or to avoid being the poster child for unsavory headlines. Photos of your face may be available long after the protest, or even the movement is over, so it is important to consider how being associated may impact you several years down the line.
  5. Choose your clothing carefully.
    Distinctive clothing can make you easy to pick out of a crowd, easy to place at the scene of a crime (even if it is not a crime you have committed,) and easy to target for police repression. While “black bloc anarchists” are frequently demonized as “violent” and “criminal,” the fact remains that black bloc is actually a tactic, not a faction, and its roots lie in protecting individuals from being targeted for repression during or after a demonstration, by cloaking everyone in a shroud of homogeneity.It is, of course, still possible to use biometrics such as height, weight, facial structure, and gait analysis to identify people in a crowd, but unremarkable attire can still help your chances significantly. It is particularly wise to avoid wearing bright colors, and also a good idea to abstain from wearing jewelry. If you have brightly-colored hair and/or tattoos, it may also be a good idea to cover these.If you are anticipating exposure to chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, it is important to know that while synthetic fabrics will not absorb these chemicals, and may provide a good barrier between them and your skin, they may also melt if they come into contact with something hot.Additionally, make sure whatever you’re wearing is easy to move around in (specifically in the event that you need to make a quick escape), and wear comfortable shoes.
  6. Prepare your emergency contacts.
    Find out whether there is a legal hotline that operates in your area. In many areas where such hotlines do exist, it is sometimes possible that they may not be staffed for all demonstrations, but it is always wise to write the phone number for the hotline in sharpie on your arm, as many unstaffed hotlines will also find emergency staffing in the event of arrests being made. Additionally, it is a good idea to check in with a couple trusted individuals who will not be at the demonstration; write their numbers on your arm as well, talk to them beforehand about any relevant information that you might want a legal hotline to know (prescriptions you need, whether or not you want public support, whether or not you want to be bailed out, who, if anyone, you’d like to have called, etc.)As part of this procedure, it’s also a good idea to set a check-in time with any individuals you are designating as emergency contacts; this is for a number of reasons. For one, it is always possible that you may get only one phone call in the event of arrest. It’s generally best to use this call to contact a legal hotline, but often there is a time lapse of several hours between being taken into custody, and being given your phone call. In the mean time, your emergency contacts can assume that your failure to check in means that you are unable to do so, and can start calling into the hotline, or calling people who need to be informed of your arrest (maybe you need a co-worker to cover a shift, maybe you need to let your housemates know you won’t be able to take your laundry out of the dryer or feed your dog, maybe you need your partner or neighbor to pick your child up from school.)Remember, also, that phone calls made from jail are monitored, so be mindful of what you are saying, and make sure your contact knows not to say anything that could be used against you as well. It may also be a good idea to come up with a duress phrase, to be used in the event of extreme emergency if you’ve told your contacts you do not want to be bailed out, but circumstances you may not wish to discuss over the phone have changed that.
  7. Keep your mouth shut.It is important to remember that you are under no obligation to answer questions posed by law enforcement officers. If you are being taken into custody, you may be required to show identification and give fingerprints, but there is no need to answer questions prying for information beyond that given by whichever form of identification you choose to use. Officers in the United States will often ask questions conversationally without first reading you your Miranda Rights, but you are under no obligation to answer them, and should refrain from doing so.Law enforcement officers are well-trained in asking questions conversationally, so you don’t necessarily realize they are pumping you for information, and any information you reveal, even in response to a seemingly innocuous question, can be used to hurt you. Specifically state that you would like to invoke your right to remain silent, ask to speak to an attorney, and say nothing else, no matter how harmless you think it may be.
  8. Consider repression tactics.
    Several of the dispersal tactics used by various law enforcement agencies may influence the choices you make prior to attending a demonstration. If police in your area use chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray, you should refrain from wearing any oil-based makeup or contact lenses. If law enforcement uses less-lethal projectiles, you may wish to wear thicker clothing to help pad against rubber bullets and beanbag rounds. You may also want to consider bringing a gas mask and/or helmet along with you.
  9. Never travel alone.
    When going to a protest, always bring a buddy along to watch your back. Buddies should help keep each other safe from being flanked by law enforcement, being taken into custody without anyone knowing, or generally getting left behind. Having someone to watch your back can make a huge difference in how safe you are at a protest.Additionally, never depart from a protest alone; at minimum, travel using the buddy system, and whenever possible, travel in larger groups. Post-demonstration snatch-and-grab arrests by law enforcement are frequent occurrences, and traveling in a group means that at very least, there are witnesses if you are targeted.With special thanks to The Grugq for reviewing this guide.

Debunking that Millennial’s Open Letter to that Millennial Who Wrote an Open Letter to Her CEO:

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So yesterday, I wrote this series of tweets in response to someone who wrote a piece slamming another woman for writing an open letter to the CEO of the company she was working for. (She has since been fired.) Since then, I’ve collected my thoughts in a more long-form format, which is what brings us here today.

In her Open Letter to Millennials Like Talia, Stefanie Williams compares her own life experiences to Talia’s in order to demonstrate that Talia’s complaints are not valid. She talks about the difference in their ages (5 years) and explains that when she was in her early 20s, she too struggled to make ends meet, but she managed to pull herself up by her bootstraps. So what’s the problem?

Well, actually, there are several. As it turns out, Stefanie’s experiences in the New York City metropolitan area around 2009 are not at all comparable to Talia’s experiences in the San Francisco metro area in 2016. To start, Stefanie mentions walking into a bar where a family friend worked in hopes of a drink, and being offered a job on the spot. Here’s the problem: not only did Stefanie have an inside connection that allowed her to score that job, but also the service in the Bay Area has become saturated with workers who are not only experienced, but are also actually skilled labor. In order to find a restaurant job in the Bay Area, one actually needs a broad knowledge of spirits, wines, beers, food preparation practices, local suppliers… and more. Additionally, in order to even be considered for a hosting job (which is where Stefanie started out), one needs to be proficient in the use of restaurant-centric systems like OpenTable and the various POS systems restaurants rely on to do their business. Because the service industry is one of the only areas outside of the tech industry where workers have a chance at potentially making money decent enough to scrape by, even veterans with 10 years of experience, and special skills, are vying against one another for jobs for which they are overqualified and often being passed over for hire. One does not simply walk into a restaurant in San Francisco and get hired in the same way they did a decade ago.

Additionally, Stefanie mentions making $15 per hour, which at the time, was more than twice the minimum wage in New York City. Stefanie says her paychecks, after taxes, worked out to $168 per week for the two shifts she started with. If Stefanie had been working 8-hour shifts (which is rare for hostesses, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt), that puts her take-home pay per hour around $10.50, which is still over 25% more than Talia’s post-taxes rate of about $8 per hour. Putting this further in context, the current minimum wage in the City of San Francisco, where Talia was working, is $12.25 per hour, which means her pre-tax compensation is, at best, only slightly above minimum wage, rather than the double-the-minimum wage Stefanie was earning at the job her family connections landed her.

Stefanie insists that Talia’s problem, that Milennials’ problem in general, is laziness and an unwillingness to do “demeaning” labor, but the real problem is that in most cases, the opportunity simply doesn’t exist. “God forbid she have to give up a weekend day to be a waitress,” writes Stefanie, but the truth of the matter is that no restaurant, bar, or cafe in the Bay Area is going to hire an inexperienced worker who also has scheduling restrictions. Every once in a while, it’s possible to elbow your way into the restaurant industry through connections and perseverance, but a crucial part of that is having open availability, the ability to cover shifts last-minute, and the willingness to work the shifts no one else wants to work (like Monday lunches or Tuesday nights anywhere tacos are not on the menu), not smacking down a resume and declaring, “I WILL WORK SATURDAYS.” Everybody wants to work Saturdays. Saturdays are where the money is. Inexperienced, nontenured newbies do not work Saturdays.

Stefanie also blames Talia for accepting a salary that wouldn’t cover her expenses, rather than blaming Yelp for under-paying its employees, and says Talia’s case shouldn’t be prompting a discussion about wages, but actually Talia’s situation is EXACTLY why we should be talking about wages. Stefanie says Talia shouldn’t have expected to be able to live alone on what she was taking home from a job at Yelp, and there’s a lot to unpack here. To start, in 1938, when the federal minimum wage was first written into law, it was enough to support a household of two on a single income. At its peak, in 1968, a full-time (40 hours per week) job paying the minimum wage was actually enough to support a family of three at or above the poverty line on a single income. This changed in the 1980s under the Reagan administration, and the minimum wage has been insufficient to support a family of two on a single income ever since. If any economy has reached a point where minimum wage is insufficient for a single person to live alone and support themselves, then a discussion about wages absolutely becomes necessary.

Additionally, Stefanie suggests that Talia shouldn’t be living alone in San Francisco, and should instead be living with roommates. However, given Talia’s cost of transportation into work ($5.65 each way), we can extrapolate that Talia is not living in the City of San Francisco, or even in neighboring Oakland. Talia is actually living in the outer reaches of the BART system, most likely either in the Walnut Creek/Concord area, or in the Hayward/Castro Valley area. The cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Walnut Creek, Concord, Hayward, or Castro Valley is actually approximately equivalent to (and often below) the cost of a bedroom in shared housing in San Francisco. In fact, it is possible (albeit rarely) to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Hayward for approximately the same cost as a shared bedroom in San Francisco. This reduces Stefanie’s argument to a suggestion that she is being wasteful in paying for transportation, not that she is being wasteful in her housing expenditures. This also fails to take into account that nowhere in the Bay Area is the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment near BART (our primary and most reliable source of public transit) less than $1000 per month, and the median rent in San Francisco has risen to over $4000 per month. In fact, a quick search for available rooms for rent in San Francisco demonstrates exactly why Talia has chosen to live alone towards the end of the BART lines, rather than seeking a house-sharing solution in San Francisco itself. (Nevermind the fact that Talia probably has good reason for not wanting to live with strangers.)

So let’s do some math, shall we? If the minimum wage in San Francisco is $12.25 per hour, a worker putting in 40 hours per week is making approximately $2254 per month before taxes. Working with Talia’s stated post-tax income of approximately $8 per hour, that number shrinks to only $1472 per month. Remember what that Craigslist search looked like? Accepting the fact that a room for rent in San Francisco with a reasonable amount of access to public transportation is going to cost roughly the same as Talia’s 1-bedroom apartment rented at $1250 per month, that leaves a mere $222 per month for food, transportation, utilities, and everything else someone might need to spend money on. Put into this context, that $20 copay Talia was so concerned about makes a lot of sense, as it’s approximately 10% of her “disposable” income. Even if we assume the new normal is actually sharing a bedroom, a bunk in a shared bedroom in San Francisco goes for $800 per month, which is still more than half of Talia’s post-tax income. Houston, we have a problem.

So, how did we get here? It’s a long story, but in the interest of providing sufficient context for understanding where we are now, I’ll go over it briefly. 2007-09 saw the subprime mortgage crisis wreak havoc not just on the Finance industry, San Francisco’s primary industry at the time, but also on people who had bought homes in areas like Antioch, Tracy, and Stockton. As people outside the reach of BART lost their homes and their cars to the economic crash, they began moving back towards the urban city centers of the Bay Area, causing rent prices to climb at a slow-but-steady rate after the initial fiscal catastrophe. With the advent of the current venture capitalist-backed tech boom, rents began to skyrocket at a significantly more rapid rate as demand for housing quickly outpaced supply. Suddenly, workers outside of the tech industry were beginning to experience displacement from their homes, and starting to be driven from San Francisco altogether.

Fast forward to today. Why are people making such a big deal about Talia’s situation? It’s simple, really. For many of us, Talia and others like her are the canary in the coal mine. We’ve grown accustomed to people outside of the tech industry scraping by to survive, but seeing employees of the industry credited with causing this sharp increase in the cost of living starting to join the rest of us in being priced out is a startling development. Where the Dot Com bubble of the late 1990s and early 2000s certainly had an impact on the economic climate of the San Francisco Bay Area, this current boom has seen the technology industry develop into the backbone of San Francisco’s economy, and stands to do a lot of damage if (when) it collapses. Those who exist outside the industry are scraping by, and the implication that those inside the foremost industry propping up our local economy are also scraping by is indicative of impending economic ruin for us all. It’s not that Talia is the first person to struggle to make ends meet while living here, it’s that people working places like Yelp were supposed to be safe.

In essence, not only is it not at all Talia’s fault that she can’t survive here, but the fact that she can’t survive working for a multi-billion dollar company in the leading industry in the area is exactly why people are discussing poverty and wages; because if people in entry-level jobs there can’t survive, what hope do the rest of us have?

Now, one of the other things I’d like to address about Stefanie’s letter to Talia is the part where Stefanie mentions living with her mother while simultaneously insisting millennials are just too lazy to put in work and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I will never, ever shame anyone for accepting familial support: times are hard, we all do what we need to in order to survive, smoke ’em if you got ’em. But that doesn’t mean that everyone has that same support, and people (like Talia) who do not have that support (remember this?) absolutely do not deserved to be shamed for not having that safety net to rely on. Stefanie had family friends who helped her find a job paying double the minimum wage, and Talia had family friends whose role was decidedly different. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but we’re not looking at an individual issue here, we’re looking at an economic rift built on housing accessibility and income inequality. What one millennial is or is not willing to do is not actually the issue, the issue is the fiscal climate we’ve been dropped into.

Now, admittedly, it was probably a terrible idea for Talia to write a letter calling out her boss and her workplace by name, and it’s pretty unsurprising that she was let go over it. (PS: Girl, go apply for unemployment if you haven’t already! You are almost definitely eligible!) That said, the desperation that drove her to write this letter is very real, and very valid, and the conversations it is facilitating are actually extremely necessary conversations regarding both the cost of living and the valuation of labor in the Bay Area (and beyond.) Stefanie says Talia shouldn’t have such high expectations of an entry-level job, but history indicates that entry level in any field ought to at least be enough to survive on, and it is extremely evident that is not the case in the Bay Area.

Now, of course Stefanie is entitled to both her opinion, and the expression thereof. However, as someone who has never lived in the Bay Area, and especially someone who does not live here now, I venture that it would have behooved her to do at least a little research into the cost of living, economy, and history of San Francisco and the surrounding areas before launching into her screed against Talia. But I won’t dig too deeply into what that says about Stefanie’s work ethic, and I’m certainly not going to assign that same work ethic to an entire generation. Because it turns out, Stefanie is only a few months younger than I am… what a difference those months make.

Welcome to the Internet

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Greetings!

Perhaps you are new here. Perhaps you are new to social media entirely. Perhaps not. Regardless of the path you’ve taken to arrive, here we are. And there are some things I’d like to share with you now that you’re here: some Rules of Engagement for Social Media.

Social media can be a wonderful way to keep in touch with old friends, make new friends, and get exposure to ideas and lifestyles that differ from your own. It can be a means for sharing important information, swapping recipes, or soliciting cute cat photos. Social media has a myriad uses, and all of them involve engaging with other humans, some of whom may already be overwhelmed by the volume of interaction to which they are subject, or even beleaguered by harassment from trolls. So how can you keep from adding to this existing burden?

A great place to start is to remember that strangers on the internet do not have the same social obligations to you that your family and close friends do. You are certainly free to initiate a conversation with anyone you’d like, but if you do not have an existing relationship with the person you’re trying to engage, they do not have any real obligation to be responsive. Failure to engage with a stranger on the internet is in no way a social transgression, it is simply maintenance of one’s personal boundaries.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while social media CAN be a great place to learn new things from friends and strangers alike, no one is obligated to hold your hand through understanding these things. The people with whom you are interacting on the internet are (generally) your peers, not your professors. This means that they are not required to explain their statements, or answer questions put to them, simply because you ask. This also doesn’t mean you cannot or should not ask questions, but rather that you should understand that their time is valuable and important to them, and they don’t owe you anything.

So what should you do if you have questions about something a stranger has said on social media? Put in a little investigative work! Your first step should be to check and see what else, if anything, that person has said about the subject in question. Make sure that you’re not responding to part of a multi-piece statement as though it were a standalone comment. Look to see if they’ve posted links to pieces written on the subject, and if so, click those links and read the content.

Your next step should be to consult a search engine. Type your question into a search bar, and spend a little time doing some background reading before going back and asking questions. If, rather than asking basic questions about the subject at hand, you’re asking specific questions about details you’d like clarified, it goes a long way towards showing the person you’re asking that you cared enough to do a little legwork before asking them to put time and effort into helping you understand. Additionally, asking for a person to recommend resources to you rather than asking them to explain things outright is far more likely to elicit a positive response, as it is another line of questioning that demonstrates that you recognize that person’s time and energy as valuable. And of course, as mentioned previously, strangers still don’t owe you a response to your questions.

Another helpful hint for engaging on social media is to make sure you’re respecting the boundaries of others, and only interacting with people who are receptive. If a person asks you to leave them alone, you stand to gain nothing from pushing the issue. If a person isn’t responding to a conversation in which they are tagged, it may be polite to refrain from continuing to tag them into it. If they are interested in participating, and the conversation is public, they’ll check into it and respond accordingly when they’re ready, whether or not they’ve been tagged in each installment. In many cases, non-responsiveness is a way people indicate a disinterest in participating in a given conversation, or in engaging with a person, and respecting that unspoken boundary can go a long way towards demonstrating that you respect them as a person.

As previously mentioned, social media can be a fantastic medium for the sharing of ideas. That said, the things that people say on social media, and the thoughts that they share, are their own. If you’d like to reprint those thoughts and ideas in a different context, especially one for which you are being paid, it is a good idea to first reach out to that person and ask for permission. Taking a person’s statements out of context and sharing them with an entirely different audience than was originally intended can open that person up to a lot of harassment from others and they may not want the exposure. Rather than treating people’s public statements on social media as if they were engaged in an interview with you, reach out and ask if they’ll grant you an interview. Give them the opportunity to opt into or out of exposure, and respect the decision they make.

Social media has the potential to open doors for us all, and as long as we use it responsibly and respectfully, it can be a resource that benefits us all rather than a burden only a few must shoulder.

Cheers, and welcome to the internet!

Everyone is Wrong About Trigger Warnings.

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It seems as though every day, another thinkpiece on trigger warnings flickers across my awareness. Some of these pieces are in favor of trigger warnings, (frequently called “content warnings,” as some people find the term “trigger warnings” to be, well, triggering) while others are adamantly opposed. Some espouse the belief that people have a right not to be exposed to content they might find offensive, while others argue that content warnings “coddle” people, turning them into over-sensitive weaklings who can’t handle the world.

The biggest problem with either of these arguments is that in both cases, they’re being made by people who do not actually have triggers. As a result, both arguments rather overwhelmingly miss the point: trigger warnings aren’t about content that might make us uncomfortable, and ultimately, content warnings aren’t even about avoidance. Instead, they are meant to be a tool to help those of us with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health concerns. They’re meant to enable us to mentally and emotionally prepare before delving into content that might otherwise send us spiraling into flashbacks and anxiety attacks if we’re caught off guard.

In other words, trigger warnings (or content warnings, if you prefer), allow people like me who have experienced great trauma to prepare ourselves before diving into media that addresses scenarios similar to those we’ve experienced. They can be the difference between being sucked into a vortex of overwhelming feelings and memories, and being able to critically examine something that has caused us pain in the past and continues to impact us in the present. Content warnings can be the difference between whether triggering content is therapeutic, or just more traumatic.

It is absolutely true that in some cases, confronting triggering material may not actually be the best strategy for someone trying to overcome past trauma. In cases where the trauma is recent, for example, avoidance may in fact be the best way to proceed. Trauma is effectively a type of wound, and just like any other wound, sometimes it is necessary to allow it to heal a bit before beginning therapy to treat its lasting effects. It is also true that some wounds take longer to heal than others, based on a variety of factors including past damage, access to proper care and treatment, and the simple fact that we’re all built differently. As such, some people may be ready to confront triggering material before others are, and that is okay; we all heal at our own pace.

Critics of content warnings say that shielding people from content that might cause emotional discomfort is “harmful,” and that calling for trigger warnings focuses on shielding people from trauma, rather than helping them address it. The problem with these assertions is that they’re completely failing to grasp the point of trigger warnings. Trigger warnings are not meant to shield those of us suffering from PTSD, they’re meant to be one of the many weapons we use to face our demons. They’re one of the many tools in the kit we carry on the path to healing our mental health. Critics who cannot possibly fathom the road we walk tell us we simply need to be stronger and more resilient, with no concept of how much strength and resilience we display on a daily basis.

It is, of course, entirely true that trigger warnings, like any tool, may be used improperly. It is true that they can be used in ways that are harmful. This doesn’t negate their usefulness, it just means we need to think carefully about how and when we use them. Just as we don’t ban society from using hammers simply because some people use them to break things rather than to build them, we shouldn’t decry content warnings simply because some people use them without truly understanding their purpose. Instead, we should work with those who have real triggers to develop strategies for the use of these important tools. Academics express frustration over students bringing up triggers that may or may not be “real” throughout the course of the semester, when they could easily administer a survey at the beginning of the course to determine where students have triggers, and to help those students work through the material that may trigger them. This model not only allows professors to preempt students bringing up issues later in the semester in an effort to avoid content, but also preempts students speaking for hypothetical others by instead encouraging each student to bring up any issues they may have personally. This also opens the door for dialogue with students, so that all parties involved have reasonable expectations of what exactly a content warning means in context of completing the course.

There are a myriad ways in which trigger warnings may be either harmful or beneficial, but the truth of the matter is that unless we start working with people who actually have mental health issues that necessitate them, we’re not doing anyone any favors by writing essays on the matter. And we’re certainly not helping anything by redefining and dismissing a tool based on improper uses of it.

The Inconvenience of Civil Disobedience

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The memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. is often honored with acts of civil disobedience in the days surrounding the anniversary of his birth. His legacy of righteousness and refusal to obey unjust laws has carried on to younger generations who still engage in civil disobedience in an effort to address the same struggles Dr. King fought, and who often still hear the same criticisms leveled against Dr. King by his detractors, often invoking the name of MLK himself in an effort to shame his contemporaries into the respectability he so eloquently rejected in his actions and in his Letter from Birmingham Jail.

We constantly hear complaints that people are being “inconvenienced” by protests, by acts of civil disobedience. We consistently hear criticisms that these political actions are impacting the ability of people who do not care about the issues being protested in going about their business as usual, and we frequently even hear that civil disobedience alienates people from the causes it seeks to further. If a riot is the language of the unheard, then civil disobedience is the language of the ignored. If a riot is shouting loud enough to be heard, then civil disobedience is pointed discourse too disruptive to be simply ignored in the way that the polite requests and gentle pleas favored by liberal moderate society so often are. Civil disobedience is a firm, unwavering demand to have the humanity of the disenfranchised recognized and acknowledged, and a refusal to allow business as usual to continue until that goal is realized, because for the marginalized, business as usual is simply not sustainable.

What those who complain about the inconvenience of civil disobedience fail to grasp is, not only is it inconvenient by design, but it is not so inconvenient for anyone as it is for those who engage in it. As frustrating as it may be to be stuck in traffic, to have a city council meeting disrupted, to be unable to do one’s grocery shopping, or impeded in one’s daily errands, it is far more inconvenient still to engage in an act of civil disobedience. The organizing of such an undertaking is disruptive to the lives of those involved long before the action itself ever takes place. The action is, of course, inconvenient for everyone present, whether participant or bystander, and the aftermath often involves time spent in jail as well as months worth of legal proceedings that continue to disrupt the lives of those engaged for their duration. Civil disobedience IS inconvenient, and that is the whole point.

People who engage in acts of civil disobedience are doing so because the alternative is infinitely worse. The alternative is suffering in silence while the injustices of the world wreak havoc on their daily lives. The alternative to civil disobedience is waiting patiently while hoping the world will choose to combat systemic inequality on its own, despite clear indications that this will never happen. The alternative is for parents to watch their children continue to be slain by racism, by poverty, by ableism, by a whole host of oppressive institutions who will not be overturned simply because it is asked of them. People engage in civil disobedience, because to do otherwise is to suffer in silence, hoping for change and knowing it will never come. Civil disobedience is inconvenient, but the absence of civil disobedience is fatal.

It is particularly reprehensible to insinuate that civil disobedience and the inconvenience associated with it alienate people from causes they might otherwise support. Not only do people have every opportunity to support those causes in their every day lives, but the idea that someone would have been a staunch proponent of equality, and willing to fight to achieve it, if not for being swayed to opposition by being late to work, or yoga class, or wherever else they were headed is actually ludicrous and insulting. One cannot be a staunch proponent of equality in the face of structural injustice, yet be swayed to abandon it by inconvenience, because to exist within the struggle is to abandon convenience in favor of liberation, whether for one’s self or for others. To engage in a struggle against the status quo is to accept the inconvenience of doing so, so to pretend that people might embrace this major inconvenience if not dissuaded by another, relatively minor inconvenience, is disingenuous.

Civil disobedience absolutely is inconvenient. It is disruptive, it is illegal, it impedes the ability of people to go about their daily business, and that is the entire point.