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Social Justice Assistance

Biker and car decorated with signs take place in a protest against police brutality in Oakland, CA.
Protesters taking part in a car/bike caravan in Oakland, California (Photo: Sonia Paul)

Massive, in-person protests have been taking place around the world every day since the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. Protesting is fundamentally at odds with the concept of social distancing, but thousands of people are making the decision to march in solidarity with Black lives. Thankfully, the majority of those people are taking precautions to keep themselves and others as safe as possible while doing so.

One of the more intriguing changes to what protests have looked like in the past is the positive use of vehicles as a way to be physically present, make noise and keep others at a safe distance—a surprising shift from the role a car played at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 that resulted in Heather Heyer's death. Freelance reporter Sonia Paul brought us a story about a car caravan protest in Oakland, California that saw more than 10,000 vehicles participate in a miles-long progression of . 

We also spoke with Matt Allen, a Minneapolis-based rapper-turned-medic who has organized a volunteer medical force to help save lives at the epicenter of the protests. Prior to the coronavirus, he was rising to prominence as a geek rapper using the name NUR-D. But when protests took place in his hometown over Memorial Day weekend, Matt found himself being called upon to help administer first aid to protesters who had been injured in their interactions with the police.

Matt Allen of Minneapolis, Minnesota
Photo courtesy of Matt Allen.

Even though he didn't have any medical training, Allen felt compelled to help in whatever way he could, and has set up the Justice Frontline Aid Crew, a group of volunteers that has attended protests each night in Minneapolis to care for injured protesters.

If you are planning on attending a protest, here are some pieces of advice to follow to protect yourself as best you can from the coronavirus:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Use a lot of hand sanitizer - and don’t touch your face!
  • If it’s possible, stay 6’ away from people.
  • For the 14 days after you go to a protest, act as if you have COVID-19.
  • Wait until 5-7 days after your last protest, then go get tested.
  • Self-isolate until you receive a negative test result.
  • If you do regular protests, make it a habit to get tested every 1-2 weeks.
  • Don’t see any immunocompromised people.

We'll be back next week with an episode focused on how our relationship with the environment has changed as a result of the coronavirus and social distancing. Stay tuned!