Movements for police accountability must remain strong in the face of increasing criticism and government repression. It’s important to know your rights, most importantly, your right NOT to talk to the police. Your words will be used against you, or others. You don’t know what information the police are seeking, and a seemingly innocuous answer could cause trouble for you or someone else. It is also important to remember that lying to the police, even if unintentional, is a crime.
The National Lawyers Guild is a valuable resource for protesters. The NLG has chapters and lawyers around the country. If you are organizing an action such as a march, rally, or other protest event, you may request Legal Observers from the NLG who will observe and document police behavior and assist with tracking arrests; contact King Downing, Director of Mass Defense at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find an NLG Chapter near you at nlg.org/chapters, many of which have legal support hotlines.
The NLG has a number of resources on your right to protest, including You Have the Right to Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters in five different languages—English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, and Urdu, all available for free download at www.nlg.org/kyr.
Original NLG reports on the state response to mass demonstrations include The Assault on Free Speech, Public Assembly, and Dissent (2004), Punishing Protest (2007), and The Policing of Political Speech (2010), Developments in the Policing of National Special Security Events: An Analysis of the 2012 RNC and DNC (2013), and Operation Backfire (2009).