If you have never attended a protest before, doing so for the first time can be kind of daunting. I was lucky enough to start as a teenager, before I was afraid of much, but I definitely sympathize with those who find the idea intimidating. I wanted to put together some of my perspective as a regular participant in, though never leader of, mass protests.
A little about my experience: I have participated in both spontaneous and well planned protests. I have been in big mass marches like the Millennium March on Washington and in many small marches and protests. I have participated in one large-scale occupation, at the Wisconsin Capitol in 2011. Some protests I have been in have been unchallenged by police, while others (especially BLM protests) have been more adversarial, though I have never been in a situation where riot control tactics like tear gas have been used. I have taken one official training on civil disobedience, but have never been arrested. Yet.
In fact, for many people my experience may be exactly what you hope to gain – participation in protests without ending up in dangerous situations. That’s pretty reasonable. While movements sometimes need people who are willing to take more serious risks, they also need boots on the ground, bodies in the crowd, people willing to show up and be heard. Protesting is less dangerous than many people think, and it is absolutely possible to do it and protect yourself at the same time. Once you’re comfortable with the safer parts of protesting you may want to re-assess your risk tolerance and decide if you are willing to take on more risk for greater possible impact, but I want to encourage you to get out there for the first time.