WASP culture disciplines and regulates itself through respectability and propriety.
When police interact with us, they often try to leverage this obsession with respectability.
But "please" is doing a fucking ton of work in those interactions, and it's important to take a moment to second-guess it.
All it takes is a willingness to look immature, embarrassing, petulant, clueless and insufferable.
A well-organized march or protest will usually have marshals/organizers who are visible. If a cop gives you an instruction, look for one and make eye contact. Take your cues from the marshals instead.
You can ask a cop "Am I legally required to do so?"
You can ignore the impulses and just not comply. You can leverage those same impulses yourself, to force concessions. You can act clueless and simply not follow the command. There are options!
Police started asking people to please push closer, to free up a traffic lane.
Respectability protocol tries to defang the threat.
All it takes is a willingness to look immature, embarrassing, petulant, clueless, and insufferable.
Pay attention to the guidelines and instructions that protest organizers put forward. Let their cues steer you, instead of the police.