Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stand and Make Your Mark.

Civil disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power, without resorting to physical violence. It is one of the primary tactics of nonviolent resistance. It could be said that it is compassion in the form of respectful disagreement.

SafetyWhen dealing with the police, keep your hands in view and don't make sudden movements. Avoid passing behind them. Nervous cops are dangerous cops. Also, never touch the police or their equipment (vehicles, flashlights, animals, etc.) - you can get beat up and charged with assault.

Talking to CopsWhenever the cops ask you anything besides your name and address, it's legally safest to say these Magic Words: "I am going to remain silent. I want to see a lawyer." This invokes the rights which protect you from interrogation. When you say this, the cops are legally required to stop asking you questions. They probably won't stop, so just repeat the Magic Words until they catch on.

What you say can be used against you. It's better not to wait for the cops to read you your rights - you know what your rights are, so you can invoke them by saying the Magic Words, "I am going to remain silent. I want to see a lawyer."

Cops and other government agents are legally allowed to lie when they're investigating, and they are trained to be manipulative. Insist upon speaking with friends and lawyers before you answer any questions or sign anything.

SearchesDon't consent to a search! If the police try to search you house, car, backpack, pockets, etc. say the Magic Words II: "I do not consent to this search." This may not stop them from forcing their way in and searching anyway, but if they searched illegally, they probably won't be able to use the evidence in court. You have nothing to lose from refusing to consent to a search and lots to gain. Do not physically resist cops when they are trying to search because you could get hurt and charged with resisting arrest or assault. Just keep repeating the Magic Words II so that the cops and all witnesses know that this is your policy.
If the cops have a search warrant, nothing changes - it's legally safest to just say "I do not consent to this search."

Take Notes!Whenever you interact with or observe the police, always write down what is said and who said it. Also write down the cops' names and badge numbers and the names and contact information of any witnesses. Record everything that happens. If you are expecting a lot of police contact, get in the habit of carrying a small tape recorder and a camera with you.
If you are risking arrest, have an affinity group whose members are committed to organizing jail and court support if it is needed. I cannot give out legal advice. The information herein is what the law says. For all legal questions you need to contact a lawyer.

The point of civil disobedience is public discourse. It rarely has the effect of directly stopping the abuse toward which it is directed. The question, finally, is whether it contributes to an argument that calls the authority of the abuser into question. (Steven Schroeder)

Be careful when participating in any sort of public protest or demonstration. Police are on heightened alert when such events are happening. Any deviation from the letter of the law at these times, no matter how minor, is likely to get you arrested.

In the next century, most of us will witness, and some of us will perhaps directly experience, a striking difference in the form and manner of civil disobedience. Unlike in Thoreau's time, when the telegraph had barely gotten off the ground, and even unlike during the tumultuous 1960s, when the Vietnam War was televised - but when computers were still monster-sized machines off limits to most people - we, today, live in the age of the personal computer. We live in a computer-based information age.

As hackers become politicized and as activists become computerized, we are going to see an increase in the number of cyber-activists who engage in what will become more widely known as Electronic Civil Disobedience. The same principals of traditional civil disobedience, like trespass and blockage, will still be applied, but more and more these acts will take place in electronic or digital form. The primary site for Electronic Civil Disobedience will be in cyberspace.

Right here on these e pages is where we will stand and make our marks.

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