Occupy your closet
Tips on how to dress for a protest
By Natalie Cherot 11/03/2011
We Ventura County Occupiers have been lucky so far. We have had rainless days, friendly police and no arrests. In my previous life I was a sociologist and studied social movements. I asked the activists I met over the years about what they are wearing at Occupy protests in their hometowns and what they recommend for Ventura County Occupiers. Here is their protest dress advice:
Wonder why you see photos of protestors wearing scarves? It isn’t just about fashion. You can wrap them around your face in case of a pepper spray incident. Protesters also wear masks to protect themselves, but, in some towns, wearing masks in public is banned. (It’s too bad because we have seen some great-looking masks at our local Occupy demonstrations). Scarves are also warm.
Your cute tee and flip-flops may have been perfect for that sunny day, but not warm enough for the evening general assembly meeting (or, if things go wrong, overnight in jail). A sweater or a sweatshirt can be wrapped around your waist on a hot day. You can easily throw a knit cap, cardigan or work shirt into a backpack (preferable to a bulky jacket). Got pepper-sprayed? Wearing a windbreaker would have kept it from leeching through your clothes to your skin.
It’s not a bad idea to bring a pack with some water. Your throat can get dry after a few rounds of “human mic” or protest chants. For you lighter-skinned folks, wear sunscreen or a hat. What’s in your pocket? The name of your lawyer and emergency contact.
I know some of you would rather not wear your underwear. Hey, I’m not here to judge. But certainly there have been a few people who regretted not wearing underwear in lock up. Just saying.
These recommendations from activists may seem pessimistic. Occupy Ventura is fun and, so far, safe. Grandparents have participated, as have young children. But many seasoned activists dress for a protest using the same logic as many of us when wearing a seatbelt: They’re not planning for anything bad to happen, but they are prepared if it does.
Natalie Cherot, Ph.D., wrote her dissertation on an emerging activist movement. She is also a journalist and editor. Natalie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.