How to Support The Women’s March Online and IRL

Meg Cale

On January 21, 2017 people around the country will unite in protest of the Trump administration. I will be marching  in Washington, DC for the Women’s March on Washington, but there are actions happening in every state in the US and many parts of the world.

The official position of the march is to stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. Even if you can’t attend one of the actions in person, you can be involved online. Here’s a guide for those going to the demonstration and those helping from home.

If You’re Going to a Demonstration

Know Your Rights

Depending where you are, laws vary. Reach out to group leaders and do some online research before you arrive. Keep in mind that law enforcement are legally required to identify themselves. In the event that something questionable happens. Ask the law enforcement officer for their name and to see their badge. Fair warning, this will probably piss them off. In the past police officers have covered their badges with tape, refused to comply with requests, and claim that they don’t have to identify themselves. That’s not true. Sometimes law enforcement officers try to instigate verbal or physical responses from protesters. Don’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with doing and be aware that some law enforcement officers will be in civilian clothing in the crowd.

Signs and Flags

Not only are signs an important means of nonverbally communicating a message, they’re also kinda fun. If you’re making your own sign use thick cardboard or the signs that can stand on their own. Paper signs are easily damaged in the elements. Write on both the front and the back of the sign so that people can see it from both positions. Also note that the march’s official statements say signs cannot be on large sticks because they are considered a weapon. Same goes for flags, no poles are permitted. If you’re not the creative type here is a website with a variety of awesome free graphics that you can print.

Safe Places to Warm Up

You’re going to get cold, you’ll probably need a place to pee and charge your phone. Here’s a listing of safe places to warm up. Have a few in mind for designated spaces should you get lost.

Buy Your SmarTrip Card in Advance

I highly recommend purchasing SmarTrip cards in advance, there will be vending machines the day of the march, but the lines are going to be crazy long. The SmarTrip cards cost $10 and come preloaded with $8 for fare. You can also buy a one-day fare card for $14.50. SmarTrip can not be shared by multiple people on the same trip, so each person must have their own card. For more detailed information go the the WMATA website.

Note There Will Be Police and Private Security Present

The March obtained permits which helps the organizers to secure the location and ensures all city agencies, including the police, are involved in the planning process. The organizers have also hired a private security firm and will have numerous professional security workers in marked and unmarked outfits. There will also be over 1000 trained marshals in place to help maintain order and to provide direction to marchers.

What To Do If You’re Arrested?

The official statement from the march is that this is a peaceful protest, being realistic, though – this is going to be a gathering of 200,000 pissed off people. Anything can happen. Officially, the DC police have said they will not be “arresting law abiding marchers regardless of their immigration status.” Take that for what it’s worth [insert eye roll here]

If you are being arrested, comply with the police. Keep in mind that no matter how calm, peaceful, and level headed you are – that won’t stop them from treating you violently. Lay facedown with your hands up and repeat “I am not resisting”. If you are separated from your friends tell the people around you what your name is so that your arrest can be reported to organizers. The March’s designated legal hotline number is (202) 670-6866.  

Film Everything

Many police officers and counter-protesters who become violent have only been charged when photo or video evidence of their misconduct is released. If you see something concerning, film it. You can decide later if you’ll need it or not.

Keep Your Devices Safe

Legally, law enforcement officers are not supposed to damage or destroy photo or video evidence, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. Use the DIY Feminist Security Guide by Safe Hub Collective to ensure that your photos and video are safe.

Bring an ID That Matches Your Gender Identity

If you have one – bring it with you. If you don’t have one, plan to march with a buddy who does have one.

Create a Security Plan With Your Group

Where will you meet and at one time? What happens if someone is arrested? Where will you meet if you’re separated during the march? What time are you leaving and with what mode of transportation? These are all questions you should have the answers for as a group and an individual.

What to Wear?

Dress for the weather. It’s January – more than likely it’ll be freezing cold. Wear waterproof shoes and good socks. Dress in layers with hats, gloves and scarves.  The march’s website says that all bags may be subject to searches and that “backpacks are not permitted unless they are clear and no larger than 17”x12”x6” (colored transparent bags are not permitted).” Many of the retailers in DC are sold out of clear backpacks. For more details on bag specifications, check here.

What You Should Bring

Extra Socks

It’s cold in January. If your feet get wet it’s impossible to heat them up in wet socks and shoes.

Reusable Water Bottle

You may not be able to find vendors to purchase water. You’ll be walking a lot more than you do on an average day. Remember to stay hydrated.

Paper Card With Contact Information

This card should have the names and phone numbers of all those in your group. It should also include any contacts for free legal services that specialize in political opposition in the event someone in your group is arrested. The ACLU should be included. Save the names and numbers in your phone as well, but make sure you have a paper copy in case your phone dies. If you’re planning on engaging in civil disobedience write the names and numbers somewhere on your skin because all your possessions will be taken from you when you are in custody.

Portable Phone Charger & Power Strip

Keep your devices charged at all times. You never know what you’ll witness or if you’ll get separated from your group. Having a power strip will make you the superhero of whatever Starbucks you end up at while you’re warming up and charging your gear.

A Bandana of Scarf

While I’m not anticipating any violence happening at this particular march – ya never know. They can be used for blocking your face from tear gas, mopping up milk in someone’s eyes when they’ve been maced and can be used as a bandage in the event someone is bleeding. They also keep you warm lol. It’s a good idea to have one on hand even if nothing dramatic happens.

March Events for the LGBT Community in Washington DC

The Night Before The March – January 20, 2017

On the 20th, head to Buckeye + Bear for a 90s/00s themed nostalgia party called Moxie, courtesy of The Lothario and MVP. Even more incentive to party with them, a portion of the proceeds from Moxie will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Day of the March – January 21, 2017

Day After the March – January 22, 2017

If You’re Going to a Demonstration

Make a Donation

If you can’t make it in person to the march consider making a donation to the March itself or to your local LGBT-affirming, POC loving, Women’s rights granting nonprofits. Some recommendations are The Trevor Project, NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and Planned Parenthood.

Buy Some Merch

You can also spread the word by buying and wearing supportive merch. I bought my T-shirt from The Outrage. You can buy online or visit their DC storefront.  

Repost and Retweet

Become a megaphone for those on the ground by reposting and retweeting information that is coming in on your timelines. The official hashtags are #WomensMarch, #WhyIMarch and #IMarchFor use them and monitor them for support.


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