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by Anon Friday, Apr. 07, 2006 at 8:01 PM

Knowing your rights, what you are required to say to the police should they ask you, what you don’t need to say or allow, how to answer and when to walk away, can make all the difference later should you be arrested and wind up in front of a judge.

ACTIVISTS LEGAL TRAINING…Do you know how to talk to the cops?

The South Central Farm Support Committee held a Legal Training for Activists seminar Sunday 4/2/06 in South Central L.A. at Hermandad Mexicana.

Due to the real possibility of a physical ouster by the police in the developer Ralph Horowitz’ efforts to evict the 350 farming families from the 14 acre farm at the corner of Alameda and 41st Streets, the supporting community is preparing itself for a range of events.

Part of this preparation included a seminar presented by the newly formed legal support team; a seminar designed to arm activists and supporters with invaluable knowledge on how to handle oneself in the likelihood of a confrontation with the police. According to the presenters, knowing your rights, what you are required to say to the police should they ask you, what you don’t need to say or allow, how to answer and when to walk away, can make all the difference later should you be arrested and wind up in front of a judge.

Some of the main points included:

DO NOT GET INTO CASUAL CONVERSATIONS WITH THE POLICE. They are trained to get information and they will trick you. Don’t trust in your own prowess; they are probably better.

If they start asking you questions, rather than getting involved in a sparring match with them, ALWAYS ask: “AM I BEING DETAINED?” - If they say no, decline to speak with them and walk away. Simple. Do not stay and play word games. Don’t get caught in a trap. If you are not being detained you do not have to give them your name or let search you.

If they say yes, ask, “WHAT IS YOUR REASONABLE SUSPICION?” – They need to have a reasonable suspicion to detain you, and if they continue to hold you without informing you what it is, you can use that later in court. If there are any people around, make sure you say it loudly so you will have witnesses. Also decline to allow them to search you, and even if they do, make it very clear that you do not consent. “I DO NOT CONSENT TO BE SEARCHED” (AGAIN, LOUDLY)

– ANYTHING YOU SAY AT ANY TIME CAN BE HELD AGAINST YOU IN COURT. DO NOT EXPECT THEM TO READ YOU YOUR RIGHTS. You are not required to say anything or to give any information other than your name and address. If pushed you should always say, “I’M GOING TO REMAIN SILENT. I WANT TO SPEAK TO A LAWYER.”


You may receive an infraction which is like a ticket which you will be required to sign, and which means that you promise to appear before a judge on the arraignment date which you will be given.

There may be Mobil booking units at the action, and people may be put on busses and taken to Parker Center to be booked.

-If you are booked they will take all of your possessions, and there is a high probability that you will not see them again. Therefore do not wear jewelry or anything of value that you don’t want to lose.

- Carry Identification.

- Giving a false name is considered a misdemeanor and may cause more problems for you later. It’s probably not a good idea.


If you get to the arraignment stage and haven’t been contacted by anyone from the legal support team, go ahead and accept a public defender. You can always change your lawyer later.



Other things to remember:

- Do not bring weapons or drugs to any protest or action. This will definitely be used against you later in court and can affect the whole group.

- If you are on probation, let the group know, and keep it in mind knowing that you run more risks.

- If you have any medical conditions and need special medications make sure others in your group know. Also it’s a good idea to go to a drug store and buy a medical condition bracelet. This will make it more likely to get help if you get arrested and need special attention. Also, you should get a letter from a doctor explaining your medical condition and have copies with you for the police, the jail, the legal team and for yourself.

- All meds should be in actual prescription bottle.

- Minors under 18 will be separated from the rest of the group and their parents or guardians will be called.

- If you are not a U.S. Citizen, even if you are a Permanent Resident, you run higher risks, and need to be mindful of this. You should talk to an attorney if you are planning on risking arrest.



There are more resources about your rights on the Lawyer’s Guild Website:

The follow-up seminar for the farm will be Saturday 4/8/06 at the People’s College of Law, 660 S. Bonnie Brae, in Los Angeles near Macarthur Park.


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