police harassment means behaving smartly and legally, as described under automobile
tips and pedestrian tips below. it also means
being an active documenter of police misbehavior. such documentation is necessary
to hold the police accountable for what they did (after the fact) as well in
seeking injunctions before they do stuff. an injunction is impossible
without good documentation, so if you want the lawyers to file one, it's
up to you! see documentation procedures below for
guidelines on how to do activist documentation.
you leave home, be sure you have up-to-date paperwork (license,
insurance, registration) in the car
the car is borrowed, bring a letter from the person who lent it to
you saying that you have their permission to use the car and that
you have their authority to get it released from impound, etc.
your car before leaving home. make sure there are no confusing or
illegal items tucked away in it. (large dark things in glove box,
heavy sports equipment in back seat, stems or seeds under the floor
mats, anything that looks like paraphernalia...) realize that
weapons and drugs laws vary state-to-state (and you may pass through
several states during your trip). for example: in CA people who play
baseball must carry their bats in the trunk and they must be
accompanied by a baseball glove, otherwise the bats are considered
to be a weapon.) remove random stuff from the car and put anything
weird-looking that you must bring in the trunk.
any burnt out tail-lights or other small fixable details so you won't get
pulled over for those.
you leave home get maps of the city where you're going and learn the locations
of your campsite/homebase, convergence, major freeways, so that you can
move about smartly once you'e there.
u-turns and any illegal maneuvers, even minor ones. use your turn
signals. keep in mind that speeding tickets can double or triple the
cost of your trip.
approaching and always while driving in protest-town, assign a competent
navigator WITH A MAP to sit in the front passenger seat and assist the driver
so you don't get lost or meander around and so that you minimize your time
on the streets. it's very stressful trying to drive carefully in a new town,
it really helps to have someone else navigate, read street signs, scope
out parking etc, find your water bottle, etc. so you can concentrate on
hyper-legal driving behavior.
aware that overloading your car with activists not wearing seatbelts
greatly increases your chances of harassment in protest-toown.
you might plan to make more trips with smaller loads.
you stop to get beer on the way back to camp, be sure to carry it in
you're getting into the car, remind the driver to check and make sure
they have their license easily accessible on their person. (not in the trunk
or under the floor mat or in the air filter!). when lots of people aren't
carrying their ID's it's easy for drivers to forget and it can be a big
hassle if you have to go searching through 12 ids for yours (we were once
cited for "carrying too many id's" which turned out not to be
illegal after all, but we spent a couple of cold hours sitting on the curb
anyway when we had better stuff to do.)
you catch a lot of rides with other people, support the driver (even if
you don't know them!) by keeping car noise down so they can concentrate
on their driving, offer to navigate, and check out the parking scene when
you arrive. this is community responsibility. don't hop out of somebody's
car like "well it's not my car, that's their problem".
you are detained by police don't make excuses, don't make stuff up, don't
lie. just remain silent and be sure to say "i do not consent to
this search" if they are searching your car. (they will do it anyway,
but it is probably an illegal search.)
of activists means that an illegal parking job could be costly. when
you park, read all street signs carefully and make sure it's
legal. feed your meter!
of activists means that some police departments develop a sudden
urge to enforce jaywalking laws.
go anywhere alone! if you are stopped, harassed, or picked up no one
will know and you will not have witnesses.
it's safest to walk with a large group. if you see other activists
in ones or twos ahead or behind you, invite them to join your group.
this builds community!
of the group: you want to be with the largest group possible except
is an ordinance describing any group of 8? persons as an "illegal
are trying to move a lot of people into an area quickly and quietly
without arousing police attention
are in disguise, trying to pass as non-protesters. in this case,
dividing up into what look like hetero couples (or pairs of
couples) works well. (feel free to hold hands and kiss for good
disguising yourself. think of this in the tradition of carnival, in
which costume facilitated subversion of the social order. you're
not giving up who you are, you're using a costume to transgress,
which oppressed people have been doing for centuries! (and even
fought for the right to do against persistent mask laws -- the U.S.
forbid masking for mardi gras for the first 25 years of its rule
over New Orleans!)
you're packing, drag out those khaki pants and sweaters that
grandma keeps giving you.
of dressing like a tourist if you're in a touristy place.
gear makes you look very "ordinary". (you might even want
to learn who coaches your team.)
out thrift stores for supercheap business attire. don't go 70s
vintage, just go for USED. don't just buy a blazer, that isn't
going to do it. ladies, think secretary: tight skirt, slightly
revealing satin blouse, stockings, sneakers, lots of makeup, any
kind of jacket will be ok over this. men, think intern. lots of you
are not going to be able to pass in a suit! try dress pants (not
too loose!), button down shirt, and pull over sweater.
think of dressing as a blue-collar worker who would be in this
area. maybe clean overalls, shirt with somebody's name on it,
appropriate hat. or a painter! (don't forget the paint -- making
that costume should be fun!)
disguise for either gender (<$5 at any thrift store): fairly
tight, clean, tapered blue-jeans; tucked-in polo shirt with a
corporate logo; and, if it's cold, a windbreaker or short parka,
preferably with sports theme or name of a business on it.
backpack! no backpack! no backpack! check out cheap briefcases
and purses at thrift stores. if you gotta carry stuff, gym bags are
very believable for anyone, anywhere, anytime. carry a vinyl
more out of fashion you look, the better, unless you are trying to
pull off an upscale urban look (in which case, you better know what
likely that you will get harassed anyway
harassment is a violation of your constitutional rights
every incident of harassment and turn this documentation in to the
action legal team.
notebook and pen for this purpose at all times!!!!
on documentation can help you stay calm and focused during an
you are not the target of the police attention but you are
nearby, do something useful! document! don't just watch!
you will NOT remember, so get out your notebook and write stuff
you are a witness, your documentation is as important as the
victim(s)'. write it down and give it to the legal team!
surveillance of any kind
drive-bys and walk-bys (note vehicles, costumes, and equipment)
(say repeatedly "i do not consent to this search")
by officer of a different gender than the person being searched
tickets, harassment of people sitting on the sidewalk, using the
your car for no apparent reason or for very trivial reasons
your vehicle (say repeatedly and loudly "i do not consent to
of materials, signage, equipment
includes as much of the following as possible:
and time of the incident
of the incident (nearest actual street address)
agency or agencies were involved (if officers are wearing different
uniforms, or their cars are painted differently you've got more
than one agency involved.)
of officers involved and distances from incident (look behind you
for the backup.)
involved (vehicles, weapons, wearing riotgear?)
officer: you have the right to know who is in charge of the
operation and you can spontaneously appoint a police liaison to
talk with that person (talking with the others will not get you
anywhere). write down this person's name right away.
the officers and vehicles: names, badge numbers, car numbers
soon as possible after the incident, write down every detail about
what the police said and did before you forget. note any
threats they made, laying people down on the ground, pointing
weapons at people, blocking observers' cameras, confiscating
things, grabbing leaflets and signs out of peoples' hands,
abusive language, etc. you do not need to write down
everything you and the other activists said. focus on what
the cops said, get it down verbatim asap.
this documentation to a safe place (off your person) as soon as
possible, in case you are grabbed later.
it neatly and deliver the documentation to the legal team along
with any photos, video, or audio recordings you managed to make of
the incident. make sure that each item you give is marked with the
incident date, time, location (closest intersection) and long-term
contact information for you (how to contact you in 1-6 months when
lawsuits are being filed).
something is missing.
let us know!!!!
table of contents
Table of Contents
an affinity group & living the world you want to see
- get ready!
you need to know to
make your participation effective
putting on a teach-in
is something that everyone does!
while the mass action is happening
when you get to protest-town
back home, after the action
something is missing.
let us know!!!!