Journalism In Verse

Before You Go To The Protest

in Opinion by

Before you go to the protest,
know your body will be in the eye of a storm.
Move to the left, look the wrong anger in the eye,
and suddenly you may be in a hurricane: windswept,
tear gassed, under arrest, drenched in a downpour of state violence.
You have two lawyers: write the numbers on your arm
Of the National Lawyer’s Guild, the ACLU.*
Have friends stand by expecting a call or else looking for you in jail cells.
Don’t expect you’ll have a cell phone,
encrypt your data, don’t fill out surveys,
know your social media may be used as evidence against you.
Only take what you can afford to lose.

Know that in the throes of their violence,
you don’t have elbows or legs or fists:
all you have are eyes, and hopefully those that record.

If the violence starts, you will feel
more alive than you have ever felt. Don’t let the panic and exhilaration
overtake you whole. You must
look around, watch the
cops, remember their
badge numbers.
You are part of a power greater than yourself,
one that will always outlive the storm.
This is God in the people.

We’re not playing
the same game.
They have water cannons and rubber bullets and the sanctity of law,
you have justice.
They have the regiments of a police state,  armored vehicles and SWAT teams,
you have solidarity.
That’s why you win.


Read More:
Safety During Protest [Amnesty International USA]
* ACLU: 212-549-2500. National Lawyer’s Guild: (212) 679-5100

The child of a journalist, Jenna Spagnolo knew they would be a writer at a young age. Jenna regularly reads their poetry in the San Francisco Bay Area and is one-half of the brains behind Poets Reading the News. Jenna is skilled at connecting people, activating collaboration and strength in others, and is a professional communicator, journalist, and digital marketer for nonprofits. Reach them through editors@poetsreadingthenews.com.

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