Your rights as a protester:
- What you say to the police is always important. What you say can be used against you, and it can give the police an excuse to arrest you – especially if you “threaten” an officer.
- You are required to provide your name, address, or date of birth to a law enforcement officer upon request. You can be arrested for refusing to identify yourself to an officer.
- You do not have to & should not consent to a search of yourself or your car. Particularly if you are participating in a multiple-arrestees action, refusing a search, loudly and clearly, for nearby filming protesters will make it easier/more comfortable for others to do the same. So even if you have nothing to hide, be a good comrade and vocalize your objection to a search – preferably, on film.
If you are arrested:
- Do not run or resist. It may result in additional charges.
- Do not de-arrest. Any attempt for protesters to de-arrest in California, for instance, has been met with a new interpretation of anti-lynching laws. Instead of protecting vulnerable arrestees from a racist, hateful lynch mob, California is using their anti-lynching laws to now charge protesters with felonies if they touch other protesters as they are being arrested.
- Making a scene can be really important for the media of your action, but try and balance making a scene with not being charged with ‘resisting’ arrest.
- The whole process, from arrest to release on bail, should take about 24-36 hours.
- The police will ask you for basic biographical information and will take your fingerprints and photograph, unless you have been charged with a very minor crime. Answer the biographical information. Do not speak to them without an attorney present about anything else.
- You will then be interviewed by a court agency so that bail can be assessed. You do not have to answer their questions and should not, particularly if you have comrades who were arrested.
- You can hire an attorney to represent you at the arraignment and present arguments regarding bail. You should have the NLG (National Lawyers Guild), local to your action, number written on you before the action begins, and they should be the lawyers you call first.
- The judicial officer will set bail according to several factors (local connections, seriousness of the crime, how many other protesters have been arrested, etc.).
- There are two main types of crimes that you could be charged with – a misdemeanor & a felony. Between the two, you want the misdemeanor.
If you see something, film something. Always film the police when possible and legal.