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

Signs, Banners, Effigies, Performance

Creative Direct Action Visuals — excellent guide to making banners and flags, stencils for posters, T-shirts, puppets, more, from Ruckus Society:

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 —

LED-based “neon” sign —

Protest signs generally —

BLM Rise Up by Kaitlynn Radloff, from

Free graphics for protest —

Banner hoisting —

Banner drops —

Effigies —

Giant inflatables —

Tactical performance — Theater as protest, by L.M. (Larry) Bogad of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown

Art for change — The Bay Area has programs like these; check your local area.

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

Photo by Mike Von from Unsplash

Personal Protection

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:

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):

Medic’s Kit — If you’re comfortable giving first aid to fellow protestors. From Frontline Wellness United:

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

Remedies for pepper spray / tear gas:

Antacid/water mix, from Frontline Wellness United:

Illustrated Medical Pamphlet for Protests, from Occupy Oakland:

More tear gas tips:

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.

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:

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

Street Art and Postering

Street painting:

How to Paint a Street Mural, by David Solnit:

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

Chalk drawing —

Stealthy sidewalk stencil box —

Asphalt mosaics —

Wheat paste recipe for postering —

Billboard “improvement” —

DIY newspaper headlines — ,

Organizing and Occupying

Action Strategy: A How-to Guide — from the Ruckus Society:

Apps to use to organize protests —

Protest and campaign tactics — and

Lockboxes — for human-chain blockades and sit-ins:

Security Culture for Activists — from Ruckus Society:

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:

Disable your phone’s facial and thumbprint authentication; use a password/PIN instead. More tips at:

Digital privacy and security measures for staying safe while protesting — Great overview from Adafruit, by Violet Blue:

Tools for blurring faces and anonymizing your 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:

More tips and tricks to try:

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

Interactions with Police

Know your 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.

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:

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

Radio and Situational Awareness

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

Using a police scanner — programming in trunked radio

DIY police scanner (analog) — Use your computer as a scanner for $20, with the popular RTL-SDR software-defined radio (SDR) dongle:

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:

Windows build, from Instructables:

Android tablet or phone:

Raspberry Pi:


The Raspberry Pirate Radio, from Make: Magazine.

Pirate radio — Broadcast your own FM station using a Raspberry Pi, from Make: Magazine:

The Complete Manual of Pirate Radio by Zeke Teflon:

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.

Explore Further

For more on this topic see:


The 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)