London is one of the most surveilled cities on the entire planet with over an estimated 500,000 cameras monitoring the the very movements we make every single day. Anti-surveillance culture refers to the resistance of this monitoring. With Black and minority ethnic people in the UK being disproportionately policed, it is imperative we take steps to reject the surveillance state and protect ourselves, and our loved ones, from having our activism used against us.
I know so many of you have been spreading awareness and a few of you are planning on attending protests in the next few days, but I don’t think I’ve seen enough about anti-surveillance measures that you MUST take to protect yourselves in the likelihood that the government double down on people.
It would disingenuous of me to advocate for protesting in the middle of a pandemic which has affected Black people disproportionately so my advice would still be to STAY AT HOME. Black lives matter when it comes to our health just as well. I know we feel helpless but covid-19 is as murderous as the state is, so this list will include ways to protect yourself against the virus as well. But nonetheless, if you protest, begin with ensuring you recite your duas for leaving the home and protection duas:
1.Recite the dua for leaving the house, duas such as ayatal kursi and the quls can also be recited through the day as they are duas of protection.
Bismil-lah, tawakkaltu AAalal-lah, wala hawla wala quwwata illa billah.
2. Follow the correct mask, glove and hygiene protocol when leaving and entering your home. Do not share water bottles or food, take some food with you like breakfast bars as the day may be long. If you do run out and are thirsty/hungry wait until you can get something at a different location that’s preferably far away from the protest. Everywhere has cctv but stores have multiple presence of visual surveillance through out the store so avoid them.
3. Cover your face with a mask, sunglasses and/or head coverings. If you have any visible tattoos or highly visible marks on your skin, cover them. For those of you with long hair, tie it up to avoid reasons to touch your face too.
4. In terms of clothing for the day, I would advise wearing loose, baggy, unbranded, dark clothing. Wear a form of outerwear that you can shed after your journey to the protest and as soon as you get home, wash your clothes at 60 degrees.
5. Do try to avoid public transport and opt for walking or cycle and if you drive park FAR away and walk the rest. Do not use petrol stations on the day of the protest, again similar to stores they have surveillance cameras. Remember to disinfect your bike if you do cycle there.
6. Leave your phone at home. It’s highly advisable to not communicate your plans to protest via text, call or via social media. Platforms like whats-app have end to end encryption, use that but be vague. Whilst it may be tempting do not by any means post any content online of you or anybody else at a protest. Should you need to then blur out everyone in the background so their faces are not visible. Lastly IF you do have to take your phone (Don’t take it) turn off your location services for every app in settings and specific to I-phones turn off your significant locations. If you are going to communicate via social media, buy a VPN service, do not tap into the free services at and around your location.
Hannah Idil is a writer and Editor of Hive Mind, the self-published anthology released in 2019 that featured the work of Black students at her university.