Step One: Decide on the type of demonstration.
*Ron Paul was just on Alex Jones (2/12) and said that he might want a "Grand Rally" rather than a march + rally. He will let us know soon.
Start planning at least three months ahead of your anticipated demonstration. Permits are approved within 48 hours but you can submit them up to a year or more in advance. The earlier you start, the better.
Some Types of Demonstrations:
Candelight vigils are a well-known way to remember lost lives or commemorate other kinds of victims. They are generally solemn and reflective, and intended as a way to honor a person or a group of persons. A good example is the “Take Back the Night” vigils or the events held in the wake of September 11.
• Picket Line.
This type of demonstration consists largely of a group of people holding signs and chanting and marching outside a building or office. If you have ever seen workers on strike, you have probably witnessed a picket line. Pickets are also a popular tactic with the anti-sweatshop movement and other groups who have used protests in front of corporate retail chains as a way to hold corporations accountable for their actions.
A march is much like a picket line—people hold signs and shout chants—except that the crowd is walking from one designated point to an agreed upon destination. Marches are usually a good idea when you are expecting a particularly large crowd, or when you want to convey a message in the selection of your route or your destination. An example of a march is any of those that occur on the National Mall in Washington, DC such as the Million Man March.
• Sit-ins and Other Types of Civil Disobedience.
When an injustice becomes so great that people of conscience can no longer tolerate it, non-violent civil disobedience can be a crucial tactic. Pioneered by American author Henry David Thoreau and made popular by Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., non-violent civil disobedience offers a way of taking direct action without resorting to force.
Probably the most well-known type of civil disobedience is the sit-in. Typically, protesters occupy the space of a decision maker—whether a corporate executive, a university president, or an elected official—make a demand, and refuse to leave until the demand is met or negotiated. Sit-ins have also taken place in front of the retail stores of corporations.
In recent years, civil disobedience has become more creative. Sometimes protesters chain themselves together to block an intersection or lock themselves to a building’s entrance. Sometimes protesters scale down buildings to unfurl giant banners.
Important note: Civil disobedience is by definition unlawful. If you plan to organize a sit-in or similar demonstration, we encourage you to obtain legal advice in advance. We suggest the American Civil Liberties Union or the National Lawyers Guild. The National Lawyers Guild can provide suggestions on finding legal observers: www.nlg.org or 212-679-5100.
*Creative actions, skits and songs:
It’s always a good idea to think of new ways to express your point of view. Maybe you want to have more than a protest with people chanting and shouting.
Skits and other kinds performance provide an excellent way to grab people’s interest. Write and perform a short play that explores your issue. For example, anti-sweatshop activists have organized “sweatshop fashion shows” to show people who the real fashion victims are. A song and dance performance is another fun way to attract attention and get your point across.