How To Organize A Protest

Photo by Friends of The Earth International

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post submitted to us by Alyssa Vincent. As Occupy Together is rebuilding to help people plug into the movement and give them the tools and resources they need to become engaged, we thought this would be a great guest feature to highlight.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is back in force now that warmer weather is here. The movement’s critics say Occupy demonstrations are still unorganized, begging the question, “How do you arrange a protest?”

I asked Mike Mann, founder and author of, how he coordinates protests for his organization. He had this valuable advice:

Step 1: Set a Goal and Identify Your Audience
It’s important to identify what you want to accomplish with your protest. Are you trying to raise awareness? Are you trying to change a policy or law?  Once you identify the goal, you then must identify your audience. If you’re trying to raise awareness, then the general public may be your target audience. However, if you’re trying to change a policy or law, your target audience will be much different.

Step 2:  Determine the Forum and Tone of your Protest
It’s important to determine a medium for your protest, and how the demonstration will proceed. Maybe the Internet would be the best forum for your demonstration. It worked well for those protesting the SOPA legislation. Perhaps your protest is better suited in a park or on a street corner. It depends on your goal.
Also determine the tone of your protest. Are you going to have a silent sit-in, or will your protest be loud and in your face? The tone will vary depending on what you are protesting and your goal.

Step 3: Set the Location, Date and Time of the Protest
Sometimes the location for your protest will be obvious, other times it won’t. If you are protesting a law, a government building where the law is being drafted would be an ideal location. But if you are protesting a business with many locations, pick the busiest spot. Check with city officials if you are expecting a large crowd.

The date and time will largely depend on your goal. If you are trying to raise awareness among the general public, then the weekend when people are out and about would be the best time. If you are targeting business executives, weekdays would perhaps be most beneficial.

Step 4: Prepare Content for the Protest
Once you have the location, date and time nailed down, it’s time to start creating content for the demonstration. Make picket signs and pamphlets to let people know what you are protesting. If your protest is online, create images and videos with embed codes so they can be easily shared. Finally, refer people to a website before, during and after the event, and put the Web address on all protest materials.

Step 5: Promote the Protest
Depending on your budget, there are many ways to promote a demonstration. From billboards to passing out fliers, there is something for everyone. Some low-cost things you can do to promote your protest include writing a press release, contacting the local media, utilizing social media and asking like-minded groups to use their resources to help spread the word.

Step 6: Stay Positive
Don’t get discouraged if you’re the only one who shows up — ride out the protest solo. You may have hecklers, but it’s important not to get caught up in arguing, hate or negativity. Other people observe your behavior, and you want to be respectful to everyone. The biggest mistake you could make is getting discouraged and feeling like what you’re doing isn’t making a difference. Stick with it. You might not change anyone’s mind during the protest, but understand you’re planting a seed that could grow.

Whether you’re planning a small local protest, or something more large scale, these basic steps will get you started. Don’t let a lack of knowledge stand in the way of voicing your opinion, it’s your First Amendment right to protest, don’t be afraid to exercise it.

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25 Responses

  1. Lisa Brabazon says:

    I have never ever done a protest, but this weekend I am gathering people to show support on behalf of police officers and the law, due to officers constantly being blamed for the outcome of peoples criminal choices and actions. Cops dont want to kill. I am working on phone calls today to see if need a permit and so forth, I am a little nervous but I m so sick of people blaming everyone but themselves….

    • Rell says:

      Cops being blamed for people’s criminal choices? OK so, what about all of the killings and murders of people who are unarmed and wrongfully stopped and arrested? What about the cops that are the real criminals?

  2. Bonnieli Collins says:

    I am trying to organize a protest about the marijuana laws. The president and congress live in DC, where recreational weed is now legal however they refuse to legalize it for the rest of us. They are living by different laws than the people they are governing. Even in states that have legal/recreational at any time these people can come in and put people in jail because at the federal level it is not legal. Either we all should be able to legally smoke or no one should, the people who make the law should not be living by different laws than the American people.

  3. Brent Lievense says:


    I love what your movement represents/ I’m going to keep this short and to the point. Various online groups are great at spreading knowledge but I don’t see anyone encouraging or organizing groups into action.

    We need to stop Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton from getting into office! Let’s make this a world wide movement and use our 1st amendment to peacefully protest. This next presidency will be one of the most important ones in our history. Like that great saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Let’s organize and work together to make this world how we know it should be ran! Let’s work with these politicians instead of against them. I look forward to speaking with you.


    Brent Lievense

  4. Aaron says:

    I’m interested in organizing a protest against Endgame Systems in Atlanta for using psychological techniques developed by the Stasi with enhancements facilitated by advancements in modern technology. They have particularly nefarious violations of human rights against American citizens in Atlanta and potentially other major cities. I think it is imperative we organize protests in Atlanta against their operations.

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