We’ve received reports in the last couple weeks that FBI agents across the country have contacted protesters both in and out of custody. Now more than ever we must remain vigilant and protect each other from state repression. Remember if you are contacted by a law enforcement agent, you are not alone – we can build stronger movements together by understanding and resisting the repression tactics of the state.
Do not talk to the police. Do not talk to the FBI.
Not only is it your right to remain silent, it is your obligation to remain silent for the safety of yourself, your comrades, and the rest of the political movement you are a part of. Law enforcement agents can legally lie to you, but you cannot legally lie to them. The best strategy when dealing with law enforcement agents is to remain silent. Remember you can’t talk yourself out of an arrest, but you can talk yourself into a conviction.
BE TRANSPARENT: If you are contacted by a federal agent it is your obligation to report this to your community. Try to be as honest as possible. We must be accountable to each other – this builds trust, acts as protection, and strengthens our collective ability to resist repression. Talk to your family/friends/housemates about why it is important to stay silent when questioned by authorities, make agreements and above all support each other.
If the police stop you, follow these steps:
•Ask, “AM I FREE TO GO?” If the answer is yes, walk away. If they say no, ask if you are being detained.
•Once detained you are only required to tell them your legal name and address.
•The police use many tactics to get people to snitch on each other or incriminate themselves. The person snitching may not even be aware of what they are doing. Don’t let them trick you!
•When they question you, say “I AM GOING TO REMAIN SILENT. I WANT TO SPEAK TO A LAWYER.”
If a government agent (FBI, Law Enforcement, or ICE) comes to your home or workplace:
•Don’t open the door. If they say they have a warrant, ask them to slide it under the door and verify that the warrant is accurate before opening the door.
•If you’ve already opened the door, step outside and close the door behind you. DO NOT INVITE THEM INSIDE.
•If you end up interacting with them for any reason, just stay firm and say “I AM EXERCISING MY RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. I will talk to my lawyer and have them contact you.”
•If an agent comes to your workplace asking to view security camera footage, you are not obligated to give them anything.
•Ask them for their card, or if possible, get the agent’s name, contact information, and agency. Write down everything you can remember about the interaction after they leave. If you are in the Bay Area, immediately contact the National Lawyers Guild FBI Hotline at 415-285-1041 for legal support. If you are outside the Bay Area, contact your local National Lawyers Guild chapter.
Remember: agents are trained in trying to get you to talk to them.No matter how much they pressure you and whatever tactics they may use, your best option is to stay silent.
Agents & cops lie:
•They may offer leniency, early release, or special consideration if you cooperate with them. They might frame their interrogations as an “opportunity” for you to tell your side of the story. Don’t fall for it.
•They might threaten harsh penalties for not talking. They don’t actually have the authority to do this. Don’t be intimidated.
•Cops rarely read you your Miranda Rights – they don’t have to. Don’t be fooled into thinking whatever you say will be thrown out of court because they weren’t read to you. Remain silent, you are doing the right thing.
•If you are arrested with others, they may isolate and interrogate you separately. They may lie about information others share to persuade you to talk. If any of you talk, they will use that against you or others. Say nothing and encourage others to say nothing. Your best defense is to maintain collective silence!
•An officer may lie to turn you against each other. They may use information they already have to make you think a comrade snitched on you. Don’t be baited!
•Some officers may act friendly and try to strike up a conversation with you that seems harmless. Remember what you may think is insignificant information can be used to build a case against yourself or someone else. Law enforcement officers are experts in gathering information. Don’t do their job for them.
Your social media footage helps the state!
DON’T LET YOUR PHONE BE A SNITCH.
As social media has become more ingrained in our daily lives, so have the sophisticated methods the state uses to gather information. In the last several weeks, police departments across the country have confirmed that they have made arrests of Black Lives Matter protesters with the help of photos and video taken by witnesses and by finding identifying information posted on social media. This is one of the primary methods used by law enforcement to locate and arrest protesters. For instance, a woman who was recently arrested in Philadelphia was identified by a video posted on Vimeo and a photograph on Instagram.
Ask yourself what you gain from posting text, photo, and/or video that law enforcement can easily use to identify you or other people. If you just wanted to spread the word about a direct action or some police activity, are there other ways to do so without potentially incriminating comrades?
Blurring out a face in a photo may not be enough – people can still be identified by clothing, hair, tattoos, etc. For example, a Black Lives Matter protester in Tacoma was recently identified and arrested based on hand tattoos that were visible in photographs. Seriously consider the possible implications of what you share on social media before you make it public. Deciding not to post potentially incriminating information could mean you are helping someone avoid serious harm down the line.
Build a culture of resistance!
Share this information with friends, comrades and family. Assume political repression is a probability and discuss in advance what the best ways to support each other are if legal cases persist. Make a plan before attending a protest and discuss what happens if there are arrests. Think about what long term support looks like for drawn out court cases. Don’t brag about cool shit you did, and remind others not to brag. Don’t post, Don’t snitch. Our best weapon against state repression is our ability and collective commitment to build a culture of support, accountability, trust and solidarity.
If an Agent Knocks Zine by Center for Constitutional Rights, 2009 – Available in English, Spanish, Urdu, and Arabic