What the Well-Dressed Demonstrator Wears


Fifth Estate # 42, November 15-30, 1967

Photo shows a man wearing a gas mask, crash helmet and protective jacket. A brick wall is in the background.
No, this is not an astronaut—just a well-prepared demonstrator on his way to a march. photo: Dave Lindquist

The anti-war movement has recently become actively involved in the type of resistance protests that has brought a violent reaction from the forces of law and order. One has only to witness the police terror perpetrated on demonstrators at Oakland, Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., to realize that those involved in demonstrations should take some precautions before venturing out’ in the streets for confrontations with the police.

Mary Hamilton, in the Nov. 4th NATIONAL GUARDIAN has suggested some techniques to protect oneself from attack. The demonstrators dress should include:

* Strong blue jeans or work pants.

* A tight leather jacket with a bulky sweater underneath. This will spread the force of any blow more evenly.

* Heavy gloves, preferably with a pigskin or chamois surface.

* High boots worn with thick socks.

Other equipment needed includes a gas mask for protection against Mace and tear gas. These are available from Army – Navy surplus stores (in Detroit masks are available from Berry’s Surplus on Grand River near Oakman for about $5). Only full-face masks should be purchased, since Mace is effective against the skin.

Cheap motorcycle helmets may usually also be purchased at surplus stores for under $10. These should have a strap, fit below the ears, and if possible come with a face shield.

In the event a gas mask is unavailable and you come under a gas attack, the effects can be lessened by breathing into a plastic bag for a short time or covering the face with a wet handkerchief and breathing through that. The demonstrator can protect himself against Mace, if he does not have a mask, by rubbing all exposed portions of the skin with vaseline. The chemical agent will thus run over the skin.

If hit by Mace, never rub the skin. The chemical works on nerve endings and causes tearing of the eyes, extreme burning and nausea. A blackout occurs which lasts 20 to 30 minutes. The Detroit Police has just bought a large supply of this agent so people can bet that it will be tested by the police in the near future.

Mace should not be touched or moistened on the skin as this will increase the effect of the chemical. It may be washed off by using large amounts of water.

* Girls should never wear pierced dangling earrings if they value their lobes.

Also, long hair is a favorite target for cops trying to remove demonstrators.

* A piece of rope may be utilized as a defensive weapon to ward off blows by stretching it taunt between your fists.

* Large picket signs, if thick enough, may be used to ward off blows, used in a jabbing manner, or, if you are so inclined, as an offensive weapon.

These are techniques to maximize individual security, but the demonstrator should realize his greatest strength lies in his numbers and in his acting collectively with his fellow protestors. Do not let individuals get separated from the main force.

We are entering a period of militant demonstrations and we should expect an equal response from the police, national guard, and other law enforcement agencies. These groups arm, outfit, and plan to meet all possible contingencies; those interested in effective demonstrations should simply follow their example.