Today I learned about a Black Lives Matter protest going on next weekend. This will be the first public protest that I have ever attended. Given that it might be fairly confrontational and that I might end up arrested, it’s time to use a little bit of smarts and preparation ahead of time. Since I harbor a healthy distrust of the police, I figured that a little write up is in order.
Make a Plan
Tell friends and family what you’re planning to do and leave instructions with them to send the cavalry if they do not hear from you after the protest. Make certain you tell your loved ones the time and place of the protest.
Carry a Burner
Don’t bring your regular cell phone with you. Have a burner with minutes, texts, and data that you paid cash for. Activate the burner with an out of state telephone number. Disable the GPS if it is a cheap smart phone. You’re better off getting a throwaway flip phone TracFone. Give friends and family the number. You don’t want to give authorities easy access to your life to profile you.
In an ideal world, if things go south quickly, you can always smash the phone on the ground with your heel. Or you can use your phone to quickly record abuses of power. These days video is considered an absolute standard of proof and it’s hard for the state to argue that their officials acted within the confines of the law, when you have evidence of excessive or improperly used lethal force.
Bring Water and Snacks
Since protests can last a long time and you will be outdoors, hydration and food are important, especially if there is potential to be rounded up in a mass arrest. If arrested, you may not have easy access to water so hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate.
Know Your Rights
In a custodial arrest you have the right to know what you’re being charged with and arrested for. It’s within your rights to repeatedly demand to know this information. If you are arrested do not, under any circumstances, give a statement, just clearly and calmly invoke your right to silence. Anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney; demand one.
In a situation where you have been arrested, police will use threats an intimidation to get you to make a statement. Resist the fear and demand an attorney. Once you demand an attorney, an interrogation must immediately stop.
This is a time to enjoy the comraderie and a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that comes with protesting something that is inherently wrong. You are exercising your first amendment rights as guaranteed by the US Constitution. And you’re doing it to raise awareness and advocate for your cause.