4 steps to holding a peaceful protest
Follow these simple steps to get your voice heard. Be careful not to break any laws but try to get as much media attention as possible. With so many services now under threat, even some otherwise staid citizens are starting to consider waving a banner in protest. But it pays to tread carefully when taking to the streets.
Step 1: Hold a demo, not a march
A march is a procession, which is subject to tight controls and the police need to be notified six days in advance. But if you stay in one place you’re an “assembly” and there’s no need to inform the police. You can still be held to account for disorder though, so appoint stewards to make sure it runs smoothly.
Step 2: Publicise the campaign
Use posters, press, Twitter and Facebook, and call on local celebrities, councillors, PRs and designers for help. A distinctive logo is vital, say Ros Varnes and Erica Coulehan of Sonning Common in Oxfordshire, whose library is one of 600 in the UK marked for closure.
Step 3: Manage events to provide pictures
“We wanted children to take part because our library is attached to a school,” says Varnes. To represent the older protesters, they enlisted a nearby choir to write protest songs and asked local authors to speak. As a result, the protest was covered by two TV channels and BBC Radio 4.
Step 4: Keep up the pressure
Keep up pressure with online petitions, read-ins and videos (“We Love Libraries”, in support of the Friends of Somerset’s Libraries, is a YouTube hit). You may not win the war, but the campaign can’t be ignored.