Watch this Training now: Hosted at Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, Virtual Convening Space

Welcome + Introductions

In the video linked above, you’ll hear from these Facilitators 

Kristian Blackmon - (she/her) Community organizer, Activist & Art Curator

Kennard Williams -  (he/him) Community Organizer

Michael Vazquez - (he/him/él) is the Director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign

Rev. Erin Counihan - (she/her) Pastor at Oak Hill Presbyterian Church and board member, Metropolitan Congregations United

Rev. James Ross -  (he/him) serves as pastor at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in St. Louis

        Rev. Michelle Higgins - (she/her) Founder, Faith for Justice. Co-Founder, Action St. Louis, Senior Pastor, St. John’s Church, the Beloved Community

        Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson - (he/him) President and CEO, Deaconess Foundation

Greetings + About our Hosts

Deaconess Foundation

MCU - Metropolitan Congregations United

Training Agenda

Overview + Defining Terms // Michelle Higgins

Organizing and Supporting Protests // Kennard Williams

Assessments and Self-Care // Kristian Blackmon

Dispatches from DC // Michael Vazquez

A word on Immigration risks // Michael Vazquez

Clergy Support roles in St. Louis // Rev. Erin Counihan

Anti-Racism accountability for white protesters // Rev. Erin Counihan

Questions for facilitators // Rev. James Ross

Additional NOTES & SOURCES

- JOIN AN ORGANIZATION - we cannot stress this enough. - JOIN AN ORGANIZATION -

If you are part of an organization that is not a “movement home” which provides you space and invitation to discuss socio political issues AND experience founding and rootedness in deep abiding love, the belonging of your entire being, and the total support to be that being, then you have not found your home, and you will not be ready to protest. You will not be in a rejuvenating or healing space that prepares you to go back out to protest, or teaches you the grace necessary to relieve your possible guilt about being able to do everything.


General Info

Actions are often labeled by risk: Green Level means low risk of arrest. Yellow Level is increased risk. Red Level means expect arrests. There are many green level actions that hold intersections and protest by taking streets. Red level actions can be quite secretive and need to know (ie a banner drop in the middle of a baseball game or the symphony), but not result in arrest. The marker is to help you prepare, no one truly knows when police escalation will take a green level action up to red. Do not blame organizers if risks change mid-action.

Preparing for a Protest: see the “Tips for New Activists” graphic at the bottom of this document. Often, police aggression results in pepper spray and tear gas. Please try not to have exposed skin, the irritants burn and are difficult to wash off. Warm temperatures or not, keep your body safe and ready to take on the possible mess from police.

Dealing with Police: while there are likely to be de-escalators among the crowd, having a few tips in mind for police encounters is always helpful. Record encounters, notice tactics like kettling and live stream or post publicly when you see it happening.

An article about kettling for people at 101. Includes comments from Blake Strode, Exec. Director of ArchCity Defenders in St. Louis

Read thru this advice from @FrontlineMedics FB post

Protesting in a Pandemic

Mask up - keep yourself and fellow protesters safe. Wash reusable masks regularly.

Get Tested! - Even if you have been in one protest every two weeks, please get tested for coronavirus, you might be asymptomatic which puts your neighbors in just as much risk.

Be Serious about Hygiene - Shower when you get home. At LEAST change clothes as soon as possible, but y’all, if you can wash, wash please.. Clean your bathroom after use.

Wellness check - daily. Take your temperature daily. Slight cough? Sneezing? Beyond the possibility of spreading droplets or have symptoms that can tempt/require you to remove your mask in public, it is NEVER wise to go to protest when you have low physical energy.

Even allergy symptoms can be draining in high temperatures. ARE YOU JUST SLEEPY?  You should not go, your presence will be a risk.

Household pairing - whether living single or with many, any person who has self isolated for two weeks can opt to pair with a friend/other household. If you have protest family that you want to spend your social and activism life with, you could attend protests as a group, stay together, and commit to the health and safety protocols listed above.

Self- Isolation after protests needs to be prioritized if it is possible. Remember that if you live with people who are risk medically, people who are elderly or very young, or people who have mental anxiety about health risks, you might not be able to protest in person and honor their needs as well.

Social Distancing at a Protest - It’s somewhat possible, but more difficult if you choose to march. Most protests begin with a rally. Demands, chants and purpose for protest are rehearsed. There’s time for greeting and people-gathering. When a protest moves, it is UNWISE to linger at the back unless you are trained in de-escalation. So, the safest distance from other people puts you at higher risk for police aggression. You are safest from police in the crowd, so if you need to distance, consider attending a rally or an event that holds a space.

Emergency Contacts

We recommend three emergency contacts

If you are attending an event with a group, your group should have one person NOT attending, at home checking in on chats, who has this information for you:

  • Legal name and gender as indicated on your ID
  • Gender that you exist as, if it is different from your ID
  • Birthdate
  • Car(s) that will be onsite: make/model/year/color
  • Pending legal issues
  • Citizenship note if any
  • License state, number, format
  • The names and phone numbers of 1-3 people to call, your relationship to them AND what you want them to know: the whole truth? X has an emergency/minimal info? For instance, if you are going to miss work and your employer needs to be notified but not fully read in.

Make sure people know whether you want your arrest publicized

Tell your contacts about the LOCAL bail fund and legal support info

Make sure you have an emergency number WRITTEN ON YOUR BODY in permanent marker on your body

Tell any contacts who have been asked to wait up for you when you arrive home safely.

Preparation for Arrest

DO NOT STRIVE TO BE ARRESTED. Sometimes direct actions are planned to involve arrest risk. During pandemic, this should NEVER be the case.

And sometimes arrest is unavoidable because police tend to always be escalated, always targeting and trying to pick us off, and we do not believe there is ANY safe way to engage them. So stay on guard. It is best to be prepared, but please do not use this information as an encouragement to try to get yourself arrested.

You really DO have the right to silence. Use it.

Expect harassment and learn about police tactics.

Expect interrogation and info-probing. DO NOT SET YOUR PHONE TO FACE ID.

Do not give police the passcode to your phone.

If you are mis-gendered and placed in population/holding that puts you at risk, raise hell. There are usually cameras, make a scene.

If you are being arrested and you have prepared for it (mentally as well), make sure you tell  people if you want them to keep moving. Slowing down to watch a friend arrested **can** lead to others being arrested. Just because police suck - as established. So if you are ready for it, make sure someone in your group knows.

It is sometimes considered helpful for people to yell out that they are not suicidal / do not have a deathwish. This is in remembrance of Sandra Bland and the reasonable distrust that police care for your survival.

AGAIN - PLEASE NOTE - DO NOT STRIVE TO BE ARRESTED. Yes, you can be prepared for it, but we are truly at war and in war nobody tries to take fire. The info above is given out of consideration, but NO GOOD ORGANIZER will ask you to plan for arrest.

De-arresting is HIGHLY recommended, get your people FREE. But be prepared for police violence and make sure someone is filming. **let them know whether you want it to be Live Streamed or not** before you de-arrest a comrade. Learn about de-arrest here. And BE SURE TO PRACTICE. If at all possible, seek training for this and take precaution as you will certainly be at a health-risky proximity to police.


  • STL based - Follow Faith for Justice, MCU, ask to be put in our protest chats and connect with people
  • IF a protest is promoted publicly, you can post among your FB friends or post on the event that you’d like to meet up with people
  • Many many people who became protest family met AT a protest.

Know your rights!

ONLINE Activism

  • Check the source before you share an online protest. Many orgs will place their logo in the info/image, and any facebook event should be traceable to its co-hosts.
  • PLEASE participate in the requests to make a phone call, email or @. The action will not work unless you share AND make the direct demand that is being raised.
  • Read ALL instructions if you are joining a social media campaign. What hashtags, images, captions etc. are requested and what activity is discouraged (many liberation campaigns will not be helped by the spread of triggering videos and images)

Dealing with Whiteness

  • Notes on protesting and presence for white people joining the fight, from the AFSC (American Friends Service Committee)

  • Anti-Racism Training Webinar from Faith for Justice - TUESDAY June 9, 8pm Central

  • Non-Optical Allyship - protesting is public/outward facing. Allyship (and/or becoming an accomplice) requires that you change your lifestyle. Here are some tips from Mirielle Cassandra Harper, on Instagram via MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporic Arts)


Strategies & Tactics

  • Your strategy is the overarching goal, beyond intermediate campaign work, and a campaign strategy might serve a larger movement. So don’t hurt yourself if you are building an intermediate campaign. Here’s an example: Defund the police, or unseat the mayor, for instance, are dismantling strategies. Defunding police is a step in creating community controlled public safety. It’s the main goal of an important campaign, but the campaign itself serves a larger movement. The more stable and liberative the strategy, the more creative and generative the tactics. Unseating the mayor is one step in establishing more justice driven local leadership. Tactics refer to the WAY you will meet your goal. Consider Kristian’s story about the tactic of blocking intersections with role play and street theatre “Where’s Lyda” and the use of the song “Have You Seen Her” put a stark message in the minds of everyone who passed by - the mayor of St. Louis does not care about us. This tactic was one part of a collaborative effort to make sure Lyda either doesn’t last until re-election, or is not elected as mayor ever again.


  • When you participate in an action, take the time to work out the strategy behind the tactic. You are participating in the tactic when you hold space, and you are describing the strategy when you amplify the demands in that space. “Stop Killing Us” in 2017 was on repeat as the central demand. “Close the Workhouse” is both the strategy and the demand of a campaign with the same name. The Week of Action with M4BL lays out five specific demands that are built from the larger strategy of the movement to instill self-determination for Black people without the hovering threat of police and racist terror.


- Signal, Telegram and other text apps are far better than traditional messaging for planning or even loosely communicating about tactics and demands. Organizers always carry risk because being in any position of leadership means people need to know some background info about you, how they can get in touch etc.

NOTE: This section is overview. To get more organizing training, connect with MCU, Action St. Louis, Faith for Justice, or AROC (Anti-Racism Organizing Collective) for deep dive interactive events.


  • Protecting against misinformation:  This is ESPECIALLY important right now. As you share and follow different campaigns and orgs on social media, people who know you as involved, or even interested in being involved, will trust you as a source. So always do your research to reduce risk of false info. has slides and other shareables HERE

  • Roles in an action - especially that of an extended campaign - can reflect the broader roles of a movement. Here’s a guide from Building Movement Projects

  • Undocublack immigrant network - follow on socials for helpful tools about protesting while undocumented.
  • Knowing your rights as an immigrant - protesting

  • POLICING IN THE US - episode of the podcast Throughline which provides a primer on policing in the US, which makes it clear that this is not about a few bad apples. Rather, it goes to the very earliest days of policing in this country, going from slave harbors and continuing until today. Involves an interview with Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad., a historian at the Harvard Kennedy School.

  • Relational Organizing - a critical piece of building and amplifying community power and demanding community control. It is unlikely that you will sustain presence, work and wins among people who do not feel safety and belonging. Here is a toolkit from SONG (Southerners on New Ground), a trusted partner of the Movement for Black Lives.

  • Abolitionist Organizing -  If you do NOT believe in the abolition of jails and police, be sure you read up on campaigns that call for it. Notice the demands for arrest and imprisonment for officers who murder out people. Notice the demands for defunding and divesting from systems. If you are a 21st century abolitionist, take care to speak to the dream of real safety and absorb the tension of perceived justice vs. economic and community repair. Critical Resistance is a solid source for knowing the difference between police reform strategy and abolition strategy. Some toolkits from their site:

  • New York - Protesters Rights Denied - stay informed as you are emotionally and functionally able, about what’s happening around the country with the right to protest