So, you’ve fallen in love with elephants and want to help them in any way you can. There are many different ways you can help spread awareness – starting, of course, by telling all of your family and friends about the tragic plight of elephants around the world. But then what? How can you reach a completely new audience? It sounds like you’re ready to stage your first protest or rally!
Don’t let the word protest intimidate you. Protests have been a common way to spread awareness and get people involved in causes for centuries. When done peacefully and rationally, they can greatly benefit and educate people who might not realize what’s going on otherwise. You can call it a rally if you prefer.
Here are some simple steps to prepare for your protest.
1. Decide what you will protest (or rally people around)
There are many reasons to stage a protest. Maybe you don’t want the traveling circus to stop in your town because you’ve heard the trainers hit the elephants with bull hooks. Or maybe you want your local zoo to step up when it comes to making sure its animals are truly safe, healthy, and happy. Whatever your cause may be, having a peaceful protest can help spread awareness and education to groups of people you might not have found had you only stuck with your own personal networks.
2. Research Protest Logistics for Your Town
It’s important to cover all your bases before you just start a protest. Effective and educational protests take some time and work to coordinate. It’s most important to understand the laws around protests in your town. Different towns and states have different laws surrounding group protests so it’s important to see where they are allowed, what rules you must abide by, and whether or not you need to have a permit to protest. Call your city hall to find out.
Make sure the people taking part in the protest know that violence or verbal abuse against non-protesters is never acceptable and there will be consequences if things get out of hand. It is also important to talk to your parents before the big day.
3. Plan a Date and Location
It’s all about location, location, location! If you know Ringling Brothers is coming to town and you have something to say about their treatment of animals, set up your peaceful protest at the entrance to the show. If you are trying to spread awareness about the conditions of your local zoo, plan to meet in an area where people heading to the zoo can see what you’re speaking out about. Remember to make sure you are respecting laws and not trespassing on private property during your event.
Picking the right date is also important. People tend to remember things better if there’s some sort of association. For example if you hold your protest on World Elephant Day, it will stand out in people’s head because they’re learning something. In Los Angeles, the City has enacted August 3 as Elephant Awareness Day, so that the perfect day for a public rally!
4. Invite People to Attend the Protest
A protest isn’t a protest unless there are people there to help with the cause. Use social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter to let people know when and where the protest will take place and what they can do to prepare for it. You can also draft a press release to send to your local newspapers letting people know details about the event and directing them to important websites for more information. You can also post fliers and pamphlets in your neighborhood to get the word out.
5. Make Signs and Pamphlets
This might seem obvious, but it’s important that people who come in contact with your protest understand what you are trying to achieve. Create catchy, concise signs that explain the problem (e.g. “Ringling abuses elephants”) and what you want people to do (“Boycott the circus”). You can also design easy-to-read pamphlets to hand out to people with information about the cause. Feel free to list the JulietteSpeaks.org website as a resource.
6. Hold the Protest
Now that you’ve done your research, rallied the troops, and made awesome signs, it’s time to protest. Don’t be nervous – you got this! You’re educated on your cause, you know you’re helping do something good, and you have a support system. Have fun, make some new friends and connections, and go to bed knowing you did an amazing thing that day!
For Your Inspiration: Watch A Protest In Action
PETA regularly protests outside of circuses. It’s important to speak out about the living conditions of traveling animals and those animals living in captivity. Circuses such as Ringling Bros. have come under fire multiple times for their questionable training procedures.