There are a lot of new terms and concepts flying around. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know them all. Here’s a handy tip sheet. 

 

Check out this guide for tips and definitions on things you might hear and see at protests.

 

A as in Antifa, an anti-fascist political movement of autonomous groups that use militant tactics to fight extreme right-wing viewpoints. 

 

B as in Black Lives Matter, an organization and popular hashtag committed to the uplifting of Black people, was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer.

 

C as in Counterprotest, groupings, or individuals who show up to protests to express their disagreement.

 

D as in Don’t record others without permission, a growing courtesy at protests since there have been strange and untimely deaths of participants during the Ferguson protests — many believing it was retaliation. Some worry law enforcement may also use facial recognition software.

 

E as in Extrajudicial killing, the official definition of when an officer kills a citizen before any legal or judicial proceedings. 


F as in Freedom Rider, the term used for a 1960s civil rights activist who would boycott or protest segregated bus terminals.

 

G as in “Get a friend to go with you,” advice often given when preparing for a protest.

 

H as in “Have a mask on.” The Coronavirus is still around. Confirmed cases are up in 21 states. 

 

I as in the Insurrection Act of 1807, an American code that gives the president the authority to deploy active military troops to maintain or restore peace.

 

J as in Journalists, many of whom are reporting from the front lines of protests. A popular poll found that Americans' trust in the media is at an all-time low of 41%.

 

K as in Keep a number on your arm, a number you can call in case you are detained — preferably an organization that bails out protestors.

 

L as in Looting, the act of breaking into buildings with the purpose to steal in the midst of protests and riots.

 

M as in March, not to be confused with the month, a collection of individuals who walk together to make a statement. The right to peacefully protest with a group is guaranteed in the First Amendment. 

 

N as in National Guard, the forces used to quell domestic unrest if law enforcement is unable to.

 

O as in “Opt-out of uncomfortable situations.” Protests can be intimidating at times and be sure to constantly check in with yourself if you’re not feeling comfortable.

 

P as in Police, the primary forces used when there are mass gatherings. As a result of recent protests, there is a call to defund police departments and re-allocate that money to social services. 

 

Q as in “Question your intentions.” This advice means to think about why you are attending a protest and what you do with photos and videos you take there. Some have criticized those who take selfies at protests, saying they aren’t amplifying the voices of Black Americans. 

 

R as in Riot, the civil disorder of a group lashing out at police, people, or property.

 

S as in Sit-in, the tactic of organizing a group of people to occupy a room or building to make a statement. In recent protests, people have been kneeling rather than sitting as a demonstration of opposition to police brutality. 


T as in Teargas, a chemical weapon banned on the battlefield but used by police on domestic crowds.

 

U as in Uprising, the act of resistance or rebellion to attain or reform power.

 

V as in Violence. Police in Minneapolis used force against Black people at seven times the rate of White People. 

 

W as in Water, something you need to bring a lot of to a protest. 

 

X as in Xenophobia, a dislike of people from certain countries. 

 

Y as in “You need comfy shoes to protest.” 

 

Z as in “Get your Zzz’s before you protest” to ensure maximum energy levels and mental clarity.


This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 

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