Many people are taking part in protests across the US responding to George Floyd’s death in police custody and to larger issues of racial injustice. Others have signed petitions or donated money to civil rights organizations. If the ongoing has kept you home and left you wondering what else you can do to help, the answer is: a lot.
Here are some practical actions you can take to support the Black Lives Matter movement and the protesters raising their voices in an international chorus against racism.
Donate to bail efforts
The protests have resulted in many arrests, some for those who have looted or damaged property but also for other people who have demonstrated peacefully. The National Bail Fund Network connects donors to local bail funds that help get your local community members out of jail. It has also compiled a list of funds specifically designed to aid protesters, organized by state.
For more ways to donate to BLM efforts, see this list of resources.
Be on call for friends and family
Some protests have led to violence, so protesters need emergency contacts to reach out to if necessary. You can be one of those people. Be sure you have the protester’s full name and birthdate handy and keep a list of resources relevant to your area, including bail funds and organizations volunteering legal resources. Set a check-in time for updates.
If your home is located near a protest site, you can offer respite to protesters. Stock up on water, snacks and basic first-aid supplies and create a shady spot outdoors. This can be done while remaining mindful of the social distancing guidelines in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can alsoprotesters can take with them. It’s hot in many places right now and protests can go on for hours.
Some people are taking the concept of helping protesters even further. Washington DC resident Rahul Dubey made news earlier this week when he opened his home overnight to dozens of protesters and sheltered them from the police after curfew.
During a time of pandemic and concerns about the spread of coronavirus, Dubey’s actions are, of course, not for everyone. “I am absolutely grateful that these heroes and these souls that were able to find shelter inside are home safe,” Dubey told WJLA news the next morning.
Make face masks
COVID-19 continues to rage across the US. It can be hard to maintain safe distances when in a crowd of protesters, which means face masks are even more critical than ever. If you have sewing skills, you can.
Cyndi Cantillano in Texas is an example of how to do this. She has been sewing Black Lives Matter masks for distribution to protesters.
Support black-owned businesses
Many minority-owned businesses were shut out of the federal Paycheck Protection Program designed to help during the coronavirus pandemic. You can make a difference by choosing to frequent black-owned businesses both locally and nationally.
CNET sister site Chowhound has gathered a list of black-owned culinary businesses and black-owned bars and restaurants in major cities. Also learn how you can fight for food justice in America. When you need some new reading material, head to Literary Hub’s list of black-owned bookstores.
Become a legal observer
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) offers training for people interested in becoming legal observers who monitor and document police actions and arrests during protests. “The Legal Observer program is part of a comprehensive system of legal support by our Mass Defense Committee designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the police and with the fewest possible consequences from the criminal justice system,” the NLG says.
Legal observers are not participants in protests. They are there to help keep law enforcement and other officials accountable for their actions. These observers can often be identified by their lime-green hats. Check with your local NLG chapter for training details. Some chapters are offering Zoom training sessions.
Watch this video
YouTube user Zoe Amira compiled an hour-long video of music, poetry and art from black creators and is donating the ad revenue to BLM-related organizations.
Amira is posting updates on the video’s revenue numbers on Twitter.
Former President Barack Obama took to Medium on June 1 to urge Americans to make the George Floyd protests “the turning point for real change.” This includes taking political action at a local level. For voters, it’s about education and participation. The Black Lives Matter Foundation offers a resource page for its #WhatMatters2020 campaign aimed at bringing BLM supporters and allies to the polls.
“We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform,” Obama wrote.
Black Lives Matter. Visit blacklivesmatters.carrd.co to learn how to donate, sign petitions and protest safely.