How To Plan A Demonstration

A demonstration is a way to show members of the community that participants feel strongly about something they want changed or stopped. A demonstration can be small with a dozen people or less, or large with several thousands.

There are different types of demonstrations, including: silent vigils, where people stand in a line or walk in a circle holding signs without chanting or shouting; marches from one location to another, where participants carry signs and banners; or rallies where people gather, hold signs and banners, and listen to speakers and musical performers.

Decide what your message will be. You want people coming to know what the demonstration is about, for example: “Vote to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now”

Pick a date for the demonstration that gives you enough time to prepare and to recruit the number of people you anticipate participating.

Choose a location. Will a lot of people be able to see the demonstration? Does the location have symbolic meaning? Can the location be connected to the message in some way?

Decide the type of demonstration. What do you want to happen? Be creative. You are more likely to get media attention if you have dramatic images for the cameras to film.

If you want, ask other organizations to be co-sponsors. Make sure they commit to actually recruiting their members to attend and not just lend their names.

If you want speakers or performers, invite the speakers and performers.

Prepare posters for publicity.

If it is the practice in your community, notify the police that the demonstration will take place and secure any needed permit.

Recruit, recruit, recruit. Send email, make phone calls, ask people to bring their friends.

Establish personal contact with the media in advance to ensure that they understand the purposes of your demo and that they give it proper coverage. Prepare press releases. Call them the day before to make sure they are coming.

Prepare signs and banners or other visual materials.

Secure a sound system for speakers, if needed.

Be sure you are clear about the need for non-violence in your publicity. If you are organizing a very large demonstration you will need to recruit and train monitors. (People to help keep the demonstration organized and to work to prevent violence.) Monitors could all wear the same color of armband.

Designate one or more persons as press spokespersons for the day of the demonstration.

If you plan a rally, make sure you have a clear program, and designate a facilitator for the program.

Prepare and copy a flyer to hand out to people on the street to explain the purpose of the demonstration.