Understand your right to protest

Apr 27th, 2017 | By | Category: 2016-2017, News

By Dorian Grayson
Staff Writer

Recent news offers a never-ending stream of upsetting events and imagery. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there seems a reason to be upset. Much of this has taken the form of protests, such as the grassroots campaigning carried out both against and for the Trump Administration and Congressional Republican’s agenda. With all of the protests, it’s important to organize proper non-violent direct actions and civil disobediences.

On April 20, The Cascadia Action Network — represented by Asha, Marley, Cade, and Josh — came up to Willamette from the University of Oregon. The event was sparsely attended, as it was a busy day and in direct competition with the concert in Cat Cavern. With materials from the Civil Liberty Defense center and an intellectual background from Gene Sharp and Tim DeCristopher, the group spoke of how to properly protest, given that there can be deadly consequences for those involved.

Neither the Collegian, the writer of this article, nor the Cascadia Action Network are legal experts, nor should this be taken as legal advice.

There are three stages of interaction with a police officer. The first stage is regular interaction, and is all most people will ever experience. At this point, the officer has little authority over you, and cannot make you do anything after you invoke your Fifth Amendment right.

The second stage is detainment, such as when you’ve been pulled over for a speeding ticket. At this point the police would need to give a reason for your detainment and they are allowed to pat you down. Protestors would also need to give their name, address, and date of birth.

The third stage is arrest. If arrested, protesters should immediately ask for an attorney and assume that police are listening in on any interactions in the police station.

“I’d like to exercise my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and I’d like an attorney,” is the phrase the Civil Liberty Defense Center suggested in the documents used for the event.

Most of the event was similar to this, educating the audience about the various legal aspects of protesting and dealing with police officers. The audience was told about the dangers of the grand juries used by the FBI, where one is forced to either rat out their friends or face six to nine months of jail.

The Cascadia Action Network also went over tips for talking to cops. This included basic things — keep your hands visible, don’t make any sudden movements, and keep to well-lit areas with witnesses — and more insider knowledge, such as the fact that police officers are allowed to lie to you, but you are not allowed to lie to them.

Many of the necessary phrases are technical and, if you don’t use them, you aren’t given your right. For example, you don’t have the right to remain silent until you specifically invoke it. Luckily, the Civil Liberties Defense Center supplied the Cascadia Action Network with stickers to put on the back of phones with the necessary phrases. These phrases include “Am I being detained?” and “I’m invoking my right to remain silent.”

Overall, it’s important for those that protest to do so safely and with an understanding of the legal actualities of their position, which this event provided.

 

dgrayson@willamette.edu

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