“Am I free to go?”
“I don’t consent to a search.”
“I’m going to remain silent.”
Information you should know about your legal rights if the cops harass you.
- YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT!!! Do not chat with the cops. They may pretend to be your friends, but anything you say can and will be used against you. Police officers depend on fear and intimidation to get what they want and this includes getting you to give up your rights. You do not have to talk to a cop or to show your id unless you are being detained. So the first question to ask a cop who approaches you is: “am I being detained?” If the answer is no, you can walk away. If they are being “nice“ to you they are most likely trying to find out information that can or will be used against you or other young people of color in the neighborhood.
- If the cops inform you that you are being detained, the cops must have a “reasonable suspicion” that you are associated with a particular crime. This can’t just be because of your skin color. They can do a pat search of the exterior of your clothing but they are not allowed to check your bags and inside your clothes unless you consent. Refuse to give your consent to being searched, say “I do not consent to a search.” You are in no way obligated to give the police permission to search you. They may search you anyway, but it is illegal and will help you fight any charges that could result from the detention.
- If you are being arrested, the cops must have “probable cause”. You have a right to know why you are being arrested.
- It is not illegal to be high or drunk in public.