Taking to the streets in peaceful protest is a sacred right of all Americans, enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Here’s how to make what you need for safe, peaceful, and effective protest. This list is just a start. Stay healthy out there! First published on Make: in May 2020, updated on 19 June (Juneteenth) 2020.

Please note that this article is from the USA and references some activist practices, policing and the legal situation in that country. Make sure to access information relevant to where you are protesting, including in relation to your legal rights.

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash


Creative Direct Action Visuals — excellent guide to making banners and flags, stencils for posters, T-shirts, puppets, more, from Ruckus Society: ruckus.org/training-manuals/creative-direct-action-visuals/

Making signs and posters — New York City and other jurisdictions don’t allow wooden sticks or metal in signs; know your local law.

Collapsible sign —  makezine.com/projects/collapsible-demonstration-sign

LED-based “neon” sign — makezine.com/2018/08/16/how-to-make-led-based-neon-signs

Protest signs generally — medium.com/@faerye/how-to-make-a-sturdy-rain-proof-protest-sign-baafe56445e2



BLM Rise Up by Kaitlynn Radloff, from JustSeeds.org.

Free graphics for protest — justseeds.org/graphics

Banner hoisting — destructables.org

Banner drops — destructables.org

Effigies — destructables.org

Giant inflatables —  destructables.org/node/53

Tactical performance — Theater as protest, by L.M. (Larry) Bogad of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Armyroutledge.com/Tactical-Performance-The-Theory-and-Practice-of-Serious-Play/Bogad/p/book/9781138917842


Art for change — The Bay Area has programs like these; check your local area. rcnv.org/events/hands-on-artmaking-for-change-with-david-solnitgirlsgarage.org/program/protest-and-print

Graffiti mural honoring George Floyd from Black Lives Matter protest, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by munshots on Unsplash

Photo by Mike Von from Unsplash


Make a Wellness Bag: If you’re going to be on the front lines, pack a bag with shatter-resistant eye protection (don’t wear contact lenses), shoes you can run in, snacks and water (for drinking and rinsing eyes), a change of clothes (in case of chemical exposure), bandana soaked with vinegar (to breathe through during chemical exposure), 3 days’ worth of medications (in case of arrest), more. From Black Lives Matter: justhealing.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/emotional-physical-safety-in-protests-blm.pdf

Make a COVID-19 Go Kit: Pandemic addendum: add face masks, hand sanitizer and gloves, vinegar-soaked cotton balls, more. From Blackout Collective and Movement for Black Lives (M4BL): m4bl.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/COVID-19-Tactics_Actions-ENGLISH1-1.jpg

Medic’s Kit — If you’re comfortable giving first aid to fellow protestors. From Frontline Wellness United: frontlinewellness.org/medics-kit-recommended-equipment-supplies

Street mural, Washington, D.C. Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash.

Remedies for pepper spray / tear gas:

Antacid/water mix, from Frontline Wellness United: frontlinewellness.org/guidelines-for-treating-pepperspraychemical-irritants

Illustrated Medical Pamphlet for Protests, from Occupy Oakland: destructables.org/destructable/illustrated-medical-pamphlet-protests-occupy-oakland-download

More tear gas tips: usatoday.com/in-depth/news/nation/2020/06/02/george-floyd-protests-everything-know-tear-gas-pepper-spray/5307500002


Tear gas traffic cones — Hong Kong protesters’ tactic: cover a tear gas canister with a traffic cone, then pour water down the hole to neutralize it. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/08/02/innovative-hong-kong-protesters-using-lasers-traffic-cones-parkour

DIY gas mask —  Vinegar is said to help block pepper spray and tear gas (though scientific evidence is lacking). Soak an N95 mask in it, and put this DIY face shield over top, made from a soda bottle:  instructables.com/id/DIY-Gas-Mask

Plywood signs — to protect against rubber bullets and other projectiles. Again, no wood allowed in NYC and other places, know your local laws.


Street painting:

How to Paint a Street Mural, by David Solnit: docs.google.com/document/d/1YSds_fBq05O7Z6yamMkuAbYsKA7eRdNQOF71svLfHZA/edit

Street mural materials and logistics: The DC Murals team shared their tips with Make:

Chalk drawing — destructables.org/node/91

Stealthy sidewalk stencil box — destructables.org/destructable/associated-artists-propaganda-researchs-stencil-box-spray-painting-sidewalks

Asphalt mosaics — destructables.org/node/55

Wheat paste recipe for postering — destructables.org/destructable/wheatpaste-recipe-putting-postersbillboard-alterations

Billboard “improvement” —  destructables.org/node/82

DIY newspaper headlines — destructables.org/node/63 , destructables.org/content/make-your-own-newspaper-headlines


Action Strategy: A How-to Guide — from the Ruckus Society: ruckus.org/training-manuals/the-action-strategy-guide/

Apps to use to organize protests — vox.com/recode/2020/6/3/21278558/protest-apps-signal-citizen-twitter-instagram-george-floyd

Protest and campaign tactics — beautifulrising.org and beautifultrouble.org

Lockboxes — for human-chain blockades and sit-ins: destructables.org/node/59

Security Culture for Activists — from Ruckus Society: ruckus.org/training-manuals/security-tips-resources/

Faraday pouch blocks phone signals. Photo by Forrest M. Mims III

Defeat phone surveillance — Many organizers recommend you don’t bring a phone to protests because opponents can use it to spy on you. Leave your phone home, or if you must bring it …

Bag your phone in a Faraday pouch to block all its signals. From Make: Magazine: makezine.com/projects/amateur-scientist-solar-flares-emp-and-faraday-shields

Disable your phone’s facial and thumbprint authentication; use a password/PIN instead. More tips at: wired.com/story/how-to-protest-safely-surveillance-digital-privacy

Digital privacy and security measures for staying safe while protesting — Great overview from Adafruit, by Violet Blue: blog.adafruit.com/2020/06/05/digital-privacy-and-security-measures-for-staying-safe-while-protesting/

Tools for blurring faces and anonymizing your photos — techcrunch.com/2020/06/06/protesters-blur-faces-anonymize-photos/

Defeat face recognition and camera surveillance —  Face recognition computers can be confused by weird face makeup or “adversarial” images on signs or T-shirts. Security cameras can be blinded by infrared LEDs on hats or glasses. Or you can stick with the good old-fashioned hoodie, bandana, and sunglasses. From Make: Magazine: makezine.com/2020/06/16/face-jam-evade-facial-recognition

More tips and tricks to try:









Black Lives Matter protest in Washington, DC, 6/1/2020. Photo by Koshu Kunii from Unsplash, @koshuphotography


Know your rights — aclu.org/know-your-rights/protesters-rights

Know the local number for National Lawyers Guild — Write it on your body in Sharpie. They can help to get you out of jail. nlg.org/massdefenseprogram

Download an SOS app for your phone — Many organizers recommend you don’t bring a phone to protests because opponents can use it to spy on you. If you do bring it, program it to alert friends and family that you’re being arrested.

Siri shortcut: Pulled Over By Police — Automatically quiets your phone, puts it in privacy mode, begins recording video, and texts a friend that you’ve been pulled over, with geographic location. When you stop recording, automatically sends the video to your friend as well. By Robert Petersen, via Reddit: reddit.com/r/shortcuts/comments/9huqiw/getting_pulled_over_by_police

Decoding some digital audio from police radio. Image by SADMIN/Null Byte


Police scanners are perfectly legal in most places; know your local laws.

Using a police scanner — programming in trunked radio systemsyoutube.com/watch?v=yWrOAEaTRv0

DIY police scanner (analog) — Use your computer as a scanner for $20, with the popular RTL-SDR software-defined radio (SDR) dongle: webcommand.net/index.php/2018/01/19/build-police-scanner-20

DIY police scanner (digital + analog) — If your PD uses digital audio, you’ll need to add digital audio decoder software to your SDR scanner project.

MacOS build, from Nullbyte: null-byte.wonderhowto.com/how-to/hack-radio-frequencies-building-radio-listening-station-decode-digital-audio-police-dispatches-0176557

Windows build, from Instructables: instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-19-Police-Radio-Scanner

Android tablet or phone: youtube.com/watch?v=O5p41SGkOb4

Raspberry Pi: youtube.com/watch?v=iE9U6xmIpbM&feature=youtu.be


The Raspberry Pirate Radio, from Make: Magazine.

Pirate radio — Broadcast your own FM station using a Raspberry Pi, from Make: Magazine: makezine.com/projects/raspberry-pirate-radio

The Complete Manual of Pirate Radio by Zeke Teflon: destructables.org/destructable/pirate-radio-two-downloadable-manuals

Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


For more on this topic see:


The Destructables.org website referred to in this article is no longer operating as of around 2022. Links have been provided to their website as captured by the Wayback Machine Archive. (May 2022)