I don’t know about you, but I feel like attending protests is patriotic as hell. Americans have been protesting since before we were even Americans, after all. (Ahem, the Boston Tea Party.) Plus, thanks to the First Amendment, all Americans have a constitutional right to collectively resist the U.S. government in general and American lawmakers in specific. And we should exercise it. That said, as we saw with the tragic death of protester Heather Heyer in Charlottesville last month, protests can readily turn violent. Plus, as we learned from Black Lives Matter protests, there's a strong likelihood that law enforcement will try to break up the demonstration, which could lead to your arrest. So before you head out to your next march or rally, you might want to download the apps all protestors need to your smart phone.
The fact is, even peaceful protests can become chaotic, and mellow protests can escalate quickly. So no matter how peaceful you might be as a protester, you should probably be prepared for the worst case scenario. Personally, I’ve never been injured, found myself separated from friends, or gotten arrested at a protest — but that’s not always how these things turn out. So now that I know there are apps that help protesters protect themselves and their loved ones, I’m downloading a few of them before my next march. If you’re planning to attend a protest soon, then you might want to consider doing the same.
The Countable app is awesome because it allows users to protest even if they don't actually attend protests. Countable gives both Apple and Android users access to information about their local lawmakers and their voting habits. Plus, users can contact their representatives directly through the app. Which, by the way, is 100 percent free.
Zello Walkie Talkie
With over 110 million downloads, the Zello Walkie Talkie app pretty much speaks for itself. Free to both Apple and Android users, Zello makes it easy to send voice messages to large groups of people. So if you've ever wished you and your protest fam had an extra layer of coordination to rely on, remember to download Zello before your next rally.
MySOS Family App
OK, so the My SOS Family app isn't entirely free. Though it is free to download for both Apple and Android users, and it does offer a 14 day free trial, My SOS Family will cost you about $40 annually. It might be worth the splurge if you expect to be protesting quite a bit over the next few years, though, because the My SOS Family app will automatically notify your emergency contacts of your location with the push of a button. And, unfortunately, you might find yourself needing their help.
Alright, so the SitOrSquat app won't help you find your friends or keep you out of jail. What SitOrSquat will do is help you find public bathrooms in your general vicinity, which could definitely come in handy at the next march you attend. Especially if that march is in a city you're just visiting rather than the one you call home.
Know Your Rights
If you're an Android user who shows up for protests, then you should definitely download the Know Your Rights app. Not only is it completely free, Know Your Rights is extremely useful in a potential arrest situation. Whether you run into trouble at a rally, or you get pulled over afterward, Know Your Rights will literally tell you what your Constitutional rights are in any situation where law enforcement is concerned.
I'm Getting Arrested
I'm Getting Arrested is exactly what it sounds like — an app that allows users to let their friends/family/attorney know that they're about to get arrested. Inspired by "a real Occupy Wall Street incident," I'm Getting Arrested allows users to send out a custom message to SMS numbers with the push of a button. And it's "free to the other 99 percent" as well. The only bummer is, I'm Getting Arrested isn't currently available to Apple users.
Though currently only available to Android users, the ObscuraCam app is great for any protester who wants to protect their anonymity or the anonymity of their fellow protesters. When users take photos with this free app, or even upload photos to the app, ObscuraCam will automatically detect faces for them to pixelate, blackout, or protect with a goofy nose and glasses. Users can also choose to remove all identifying data that might be stored in their photos, like GPS location and phone make and model. Even better, it's free!
Find My Friends
Built into Apples iOS and available in other versions for Android, the Find My Friends app is basically a live map that shows your friends' locations in relation to your own. Whether you're in a protest and things get ugly, or you just lose track of each other during a march, Find My Friends can help you regroup. Just open the app, invite your friends to share their locations, and voila.