Thursday, October 6, 2011

A quick note to the Occupiers: what not to do

Back in the day, the Yippies taught me how to behave if I was arrested, which I wasn't. I was also taught how to avoid arrest, what to say and how to act. After studying the tales of Amanda Knox, the West Memphis Three, and Dr Conrad Murray (currently on trial in the death of Michael Jackson), I decided I needed to go over these points, especially since kids might be getting arrested in occupations all over the country.

As these cases point out, what starts out small could end up big, big, big. Never assume you are not a suspect in something else that you never heard of. Never assume that anything is "obvious"--nothing is. Never assume you could not be charged with something you didn't do, that such things are all in the movies. They aren't. Ask those three guys from Memphis, how it can play out.

Most important rule: Be polite to the cops. Do not insult them and call them flunkies taking orders, etc, as much as you might want to.

Keep in mind Orwell's society in ANIMAL FARM: the police were the dogs. Lots of people thought this was just his way of being mean and sarcastic, but really, he meant they were the guardians and watchDOGS of the state. As the late, great activists Ben Masel and Steve Conliff used to tell me: Remember, some dogs you can make friends with, and some you can't. Some are poodles and some are rottweilers. Learn the difference, immediately, as you would if you were trespassing in someone's yard. Because when you demonstrate against the state, you are perceived NOT as someone taking their own government into their own hands at long last, but as a trespasser going where you do not belong. It's wrong, and it's fascist, but it is nonetheless true in modern-day America. (Once again, the Founders spin madly in their graves.)

The rottweilers will be on the streets, the poodles will be behind the desks. Although the rottweilers choose the dangerous work, the poodles are the ones who often keep things running smoothly and make countless internal decisions. BE NICE TO THEM. They are working people, just as we are, worried about their pensions and retirement, just as we are. Many are in deep sympathies with the occupation. Do not antagonize them. Establish connection ASAP; if you are a New Yorker, talk about New York with the New York cop: "Where did you grow up? What neighborhood are you from?" As New Yorkers know, neighborhoods are important. Listen to them, did he say "How bout them Yankees?" to somebody, as he was booking you? You LOOOVE the Yankees. Yes, you do!

Does he have tattoos? Ask about them, show him yours, talk about them. If you have children, mention them, and if he mentions that he has children, chat about them.

From Occupy Together.

If you are a veteran, talk about this immediately (ideally, you should be wearing a button that announces this)... asking about his everyday-weaponry is a good intro to letting a police officer know this about you. If you are a Republican, try to stick this into the conversation too, "Wow, I didn't know they arrested Republicans!" and laugh about it. If you write a blog, say so: "This will be a hellacious story on my blog! Well, I wanted hits, now I'll get em!" (I know at least one person who believes this fact cut her loose; they didn't want to read about themselves.) If you do write a blog, segue into blogger mode at the time of arrest: get names of all arresting officers and their job descriptions, ask "Can I quote you on that?" Alternative newspapers had this role, back in the day. And I think it is likely very much the same today: They simply would rather not deal with you.

And finally, we get to Dr Murray, Amanda and the West Memphis Three. Study and learn from their mistakes.

Seriously. I hope I do not have to tell you not to start making out with your also-arrested significant-other in the police station, even if the whole police-inquisition thing makes you hot. DO NOT DO THIS. Amanda will back me up, I'm sure.

Do NOT call your girlfriends on the phone while you are in the police car. DO. NOT. DO. THIS. Turn off the phone and give the situation your full attention. Dr Murray NOW knows, they were listening to his sexy phone calls and ready to throw the book at him... but at the time, he just thought "Wow, what a mess!" The fact that he has so many girlfriends and so many kids, is now being used as evidence against him: See, he needed the money and so didn't challenge Michael Jackson's drug demands. It is doubtful the prosecution would even have formulated this line of prosecution, if he hadn't serially-phoned all his girlfriends (even in the ambulance, can you BELIEVE?) and attracted copious police attention in doing so. THEY CAN USE ANYTHING AGAINST YOU and it isn't simply what you say, but what you DO. Therefore, do as little as possible.

Damien Echols (of the West Memphis Three) recently talked about how his flip, heavy-metal teenage attitude made things worse for him, at the time of his arrest. If you dress like a goth (as he did), DO NOT DO THAT for your trial. Look like the most wholesome person in the world. Buy eyeglasses and look calm. I've written about how I had to put a rosary in my car to keep from getting run over or beat up (due to lefty bumper stickers) here in hyper-conservative upstate South Carolina. You might consider wearing a cross or a crucifix. (a cross in the south, a crucifix in New York)

Do not wear a t-shirt that is too incendiary, gross or insulting. If anything, I would counsel one that starts conversation. Some old-school demonstrators think it is always best to wear one associated with a group, since this makes you appear like a member of the group (even if you aren't) and thus protected. (An unaffiliated demonstrator is a sitting duck, DO NOT go in there alone or without back-up!) I have an Amnesty International shirt that I keep for just such occasions: AI members are the LAST people they want in their jail. Too much aggravation! I know it saved me on at least one occasion.

Most important: Do not be proud, lose the ego. This is not just about you. You are doing this for US; you are doing this for ME. You are representing all of us, the disenfranchised 99%.

I am proud of you, so please make me even more proud: please be careful and watch your backs. We need you here with us, whole and strong.

Good luck, and I love you. Namaste.


Blue Heron said...

Very valuable and wise information. Quite considered. Thank you.

JoJo said...

OUTSTANDING POST Daisy!!!! That was just the best advice EVER! Wow. This is easily one of your best posts too. We used to see the hardcore, in your face protesters in SF and cringe. We knew that you 'caught more flies with honey', and that the other side was more likely to LISTEN to your point of view if you were polite and calm, or perhaps just let you go. But that mob mentality flares up and disaster ensues.

Mama Moretti said...

d, at my home computer, there is an exe file that tries to load. I just said "cancel" and that took care of it

DaisyDeadhead said...

Thanks MM! Left note w/Blogger help, dunno if that will do me any good.

THANKS SO MUCH for checking for me.

Dave Dubya said...