Updated since it was first posted.
I thought the ladder thing was innovative. It’s a fairly good way to keep the phalanx together while keeping a barrier of sorts between the phalanx and the riot police.
But the key to coming out in one piece when doing a national level will-be-put-down-at-all-costs-because-it’s-the-Olympics protest is safety equipment.
- Proper safety shoes. If are going to be breaking windows and smashing up cars, you need a proper safety boot. Steel toe, steel insert. It’s difficult to protest when you are hopping around because some plate glass just went through the bottom of your sneaker.
- A helmet. There is a reason the cops are wearing them and you should too. A hardhat or a bicycle helmet is good in a pinch. Finding a used Gallant hat with a chin strap would be ideal. The cops wear these, and you can too!
- Proper eye protection. Again, smashing windows with garbage receptacles is dangerous work. The last thing you want is to come out of it with eye damage. Since you’re likely to be pepper-sprayed anyway, diving goggles seem like a good deal.
- A solid set of work gloves. Riot police sometimes smash people on the hands. It also protects you from spillover from any Molotov cocktails you intend to throw.
- Respiratory protection. A full on gas mask would be ideal, since it makes tear gas completely ineffective, but it makes it difficult to yell out whatever slogans need to be yelled out. A simple dust mask or scarf would do OK, and along with the goggles, would work nicely to conceal your identity. For the truly hardcore, soak the mask with a 5% solution of potassium metabisulphate. It neutralizes the tear gas. You can get this at any homebrewing shop.
- Body armour. When the riot cops come at you, they are going to hit you with batons. You can lessen this pain by taping one inch foam around your torso. Also use tape to pull two inches of it over your shoulders and collar bones. When the baton comes down, there is a tendency for it to strike there and a broken collarbone is painful! If you think you’re going to get into a big fight go for bracers, shin guards, elbow and knee pads too. If you really think you’re going to see some heavy shit, just lay out the scratch and get a stab vest.
- A jock strap. Frustrated riot cops sometimes kick people in the balls. Crawling around holding your man garbage is no way to protest.
- Tape your wrists with athletic tape. If they do get you down, it makes the plastic ties they are going to put on you much more bearable.
- Backpack. And in it you are going to have 1.5L of fresh water, a first aid kit and more Campden tablets. It also never hurts to pack a lunch, just in case it turns into an all day affair. The water is for drinking, but also to flush out the pepper spray from the eyes of your friends who didn’t take workplace safety as seriously as you did. The first aid kit is for the ones who really get hurt.
Protesting can be an interesting and engaging extreme sport, but the key to enjoying it safely is having the proper equipment!