Writings, Essays, Lyrics, Musings, Commentary . . .
Article #24: What To Do If They Come After You ...Fall, 2004 - by Gaye Adegbalola
Since the elections, I have been paralyzed, absolutely numb. To sum it up simply, this country is BECOMING A THEOCRACY. I am scared. VERY SCARED --
-- as a woman
-- as an African-American
-- as a lesbian
-- as a senior citizen
-- as a resident of Virginia, etc.
Thus, I must be pro-active in regards to the greater oppression headed my way. "They" could very well come after me in an even stronger way.
At present, I do have some rights and I must be knowledgeable of these rights. I URGE YOU TO PRINT THESE OUT AND GIVE THEM TO
-- every young black man
-- every unwed parent
-- every community activist
-- every pro-active Democrat
-- every pacifist
-- every gay/lesbian
-- every transgendered/bisexual
-- every disabled/labeled person
-- every person who doesn't pray to "their" God in "their" way
-- every person in recovery
-- every poor person
-- every person with bizarre hair, piercings, or tattoos
-- every person who is or has been incarcerated
-- every person to the left of Bush
. . . you get my idea. While I don't want to be an alarmist, I have lived through overt segregation in the South and covert segregation in the North. I know what it means to have hate legislated. I know what it means to be beaten by police, jailed by rabid judges, denied basic human rights. Abu Gharib was learned at home. I'm not being paranoid -- this has been my reality before and seems to be returning as I presently write. Thus:
WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE STOPPED BY THE POLICE
• Though hard to do, as best you can, remain calm.
• You are not required to talk to the police unless a judge orders you to.
• If you don't want to talk or answer questions, ask "Am I under arrest or free to go?" If you are not being detained, you may go. Walk (don't run) away calmly.
• Remember the officer's badge number and name, and get contact info of witnesses.
• Do not consent to being patted down or searched. Say "I do not consent to being searched." Don't acquiesce, but don't resist physically.
WHAT TO DO IF THE POLICE COME TO YOUR HOME
• You do not have to let police or law enforcement into your home unless they have an arrest or search warrant.
• Ask to see any search warrant. It must identify the place to be searched and items to be seized. You must let them in, if the search warrant is for your home. You have the right to monitor what they do inside your home.
• Ask to see an arrest warrant. They cannot enter your home without a search warrant, unless the arrest warrant is for a resident of your home.
• If they have no warrants:
-- Be calm.
-- State "I do not consent to your being on my property. I request that you leave."
-- If you choose to speak with police, do so outside and off of your property.
• The police may try to look through an open door or window to see anything in plain view that they can use to justify entering or getting a warrant.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ARRESTED
• If arrested say "I want to remain silent. I want to speak to an
attorney." They should stop trying to question you when you ask for an
attorney. You do not need to already have an attorney to request one.
• Some police lie. Do not believe a police officer's description of your rights and options. Rely on your lawyer instead.
• Do not engage in conversation with the police. Do not try to explain or "educate" the police about your situation. Even if they seem like a "good cop." Anything you say will be used against you and against others.
• Many people are afraid that if they refuse to cooperate, it appears they have something to hide. This is not so. You don't need to be rude, but don't be afraid to assert your rights.
For more information, visit www.JusticeOnline.org
* * * * *
Again, don't mean to be an alarmist, but how many times have you heard the old folks say "an ounce of caution is worth a pound of cure"????? Definitely memorize what words you should say. AND, especially for GLBT, make sure your passport is current.
I do take small comfort in the fact that my hometown, Fredericksburg, Virginia, supported Kerry with 54% of the vote. . . no small feat!