Monday, November 21, 2011

Preparing for Arrest: a few tips

These are practical suggestions to make arrest and short-term incarceration less stressful. For legal advice consult an attorney.

You may not be thinking about civil disobedience, but if you’re near a protest where arrests are possible, even if only a bystander you may be at risk of arrest.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind in no particular order. Please feel free to add suggestions in Comments.

Wear loafers—or shoes without laces—they’ll take them when you get to the station. High boots are a bother to lace and unlace, especially if you’re nervous.

Wear pants that will stay up without a belt (they’ll take that too).

Put tissues or folded squares of toilet paper in your pocket—not likely to have any in your cell.

Wear layers, a sweat shirt, a coat: serve as padding if things get rough. And sitting on a hard steel bench for hours, you’ll be happy to have a cushion under your butt and a pillow for your head.

Summer time—wear what you can bear in the heat—tie a sweat shirt securely around your waist. And don’t wear shorts.

Don’t over hydrate. Avoid coffee and tea for several hours before possible arrest – you may be sitting handcuffed in a police van for hours before they take you out for booking and the only place you’ll have to pee will be in your pants.

NO LOOSE PILLS legal or otherwise. No sharp objects. Nothing that can be possibly be construed as a weapon.

Have a list of all prescription drugs you take to give to the nurse at check-in.

Make sure you give someone away from demonstration a check in time and legal number to call—so if they don’t hear from you after a predetermined time, they can call to trace you as you move through the system.

Write your legal phone # on your arm with a Sharpie. For Occupy Philly: 484 758 0488

Take quarters—your free phone call isn’t free.

Get a good night’s sleep the day before—it may be a couple days before you sleep more than a fitful hour or two here and there.

Once in custody, be reasonably civil and polite as they take you through the process. They hold all the cards, are very busy, and will mostly respond professionally if you don’t provoke them. So don’t provoke them! It could make your stay a lot longer.
And remember your rights. When approached in public by a cop,
You have a right to remain silent. You don't have to answer questions. Good idea to give your name and I.D. if asked, but nothing more. Ask to speak to an attorney.

Ask if you are free to leave. If cop says yes, leave.

If not, ask why you are being detained. They must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

Being detained is NOT an arrest. They do NOT have to tell you why you are being arrested. Charges are brought by the D.A. in Philadelphia.

Cops can pat you down, but not search pockets or anything enclosed (backpacks etc). Don't resiste if they do. Say, "I do not consent to this search." Repeat if they continue to search.

When you make your call, give your name, date of birth, where you are -- if you know. The phone call is NOT PRIVATE. Anything you say can and will be used against you. The same goes for conversations with cell mates.

Learn to meditate. There is no better way to pass the hours.

Remember the company you are keeping: Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Eugene Debbs, Margarete Sanger, William Penn, Emma Goldman.... 

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