Today, I saw a quote that read "When you want to know who wants to incite a riot, it's helpful to observe who comes dressed for one".
I know the person who wrote it was trying to be clever and thought they were making a good point. However, it's just this attitude that contributes to the way that some protesters are labeled trouble-makers even before they've done anything. I've been watching lots of videos showing how police in several cities have come in and attacked protesters participating in what has been labeled the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. It's horrendous. They have been snatching people out of crowds and beating and arresting them. They have sprayed pepper spray into the eyes of people who were doing nothing more than standing on the sidewalk and speaking their piece.
I have a lot more to say about that. However, since I am in my third week of an upper-respiratory virus and quite low on energy, I'm going to save that for later and stick to saying what I think about the above quote. It's also my advice for folks participating in protests like these for the first time.
Know this: everyone who goes to protests should come dressed for one. Any seasoned political activist should know that. It's just not smart to show up to these things in baggy clothes (they make it easier for the police to grab you), sandals (if the folks near you start running, you don't want to have your bare feet stomped), easily identifiable clothing (nondescript gear allows you to blend in and avoid being singled out by the police).
This isn't a game, people. This is revolution and it isn't a pretty process. The other folks are coming prepared for a riot. You'd be a fool not to do the same. Whether you like it or not, there will be riots and attacks. Even if they aren't initiated by the protesters, the police have lots of shiny objects that they rarely get to use so freely. Do you think they will pass up perfect opportunities like this?
Walking around looking like it's just a great big unity-fest won't prevent riots and only makes you a better target. They always go for the low-hanging fruit first. That is all.