First Amendment

What can I do if I’m at a protest and someone is trying to provoke or bait me?

I was participating in a peaceful demonstration, and some other people came up and started yelling at me and calling me things that were clearly intended to make me react in anger.


The most important thing you can do in this situation is recognize that you are being baited or provoked. The person or people challenging you is/are not interested in a dialogue; their intent is to make you react emotionally, with anger and aggression. The person challenging you is trying to manipulate you into providing a particular kind of (inappropriate) reaction. Often, people who confront with the purpose of baiting do it to create spectacle. Denying them this spectacle “is the worst insult they can endure” (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2017). You should ignore the baiter and/or relocate. Do not engage unless you are practiced in non-violent, de-escalation techniques. Consider, for example, if you are comfortable meeting hyperbole, anger, and insult with neutral nonverbals and measured redirection.

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