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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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color cycle (slow)
In the category of "well, that should be interesting", I'm going to go to a protest tomorrow. I think for details I might as well just copy and paste from the e-mail:

Hello to all,
Pride Alliance, Safe Zones, and Keshet, as part of a
huge, city-wide effort, plan to hold a peaceful demonstration outside of the
ex-gay Love Won Out (www.lovewonout.com
) conference this Saturday. Our purpose is to offer a message of truth,
love, and acceptance for LGBT families and those struggling with their sexual
orientation. We will have placards, posters, ribbons, armbands, and resource
info available on site.   Transportation to the
church site will be provided on February 25th at the South 40 clocktower at two
separate times: 6:15 AM and 3:45PM.

(emphasis in original)

Assuming that the protest remains peaceful, any advice from people who have actually participated in protests before? There's no reason to expect particular police hostility, but I'll still take a few precautions (no money or legal ID, although I have to have my student ID to get back into my dorm). Thoughts?

More important post later this evening, probably a few hours later.

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Hmm. Actually, during Student Life's coverage of the protests surrounding the 2004 debate, we were advised to have like $50-100 in cash on us, plus our state IDs, etc. just to make sure that in case we needed to pay off a cop to get out of trouble real quick, or in case something else happened, we'd be okay and clearly identified. But those were instructions for members of the press - I don't know what instructions to give for someone on the other side.

Of course, I think the idea that we'd ever "pay off a cop" to get out of trouble was a naive one, and one that could cause more harm than good, but ... just relaying what my instructions were.

Although it could be naive of me to say so, why would there be any problem if you don't do anything wrong?

If I'm arrested- which frequently happens in legal but politically unpopular protests- the police will take everything on me, including my ID. My student ID is illegible, but if they get my nondriver's licence (a driver's licence clearly labeled with "THIS PERSON CANNOT DRIVE", but usable identically as an ID), they'll have full identification.

According to the ACLU's site- and they know something about protests- the information is very likely to be abused. As I could do without being put on no-fly lists or having my parents informed of my fully legal behavior, I'd rather they not have legal ID they can use against me.

Legal protests are not always dealt with legally.

If you're not going to do anything wrong, it would probably be a good idea to actually bring ID. In my experiences with the police, they tend to be nice unless you act like you have something to hide. Even though I have prejudices about American cops to be a bit less friendly than Norwegian and Canadian ones, I don't think they would give you any grief if you treat them reasonable.

Have fun and make you voice heard!

It depends on the situation. This general area is rather socially conservative; we will not be popular protesters. This is a place where there are many "ha ha only serious" jokes about the police stopping drivers for DWB, "driving while black". Add Arab in there as well and it's pretty accurate.

I therefore expect to be harassed. American law does not require me to identify myself to the police, and it is to my social and legal advantage not to: the police can claim I was cooperating with their search of my bags unless I resist everything from the start, while peacefully cooperating with any commands- that's to say, state that I am acting under protest and am not cooperating... then cooperate.

If I get arrested, whether or not the police have any grounds to do so or even claim a crime at the time of my arrest, I will forefit any and all money I am carrying; this can be extended to some other devices, but those must be returned if I'm released without being charged. Money is forefited.

So I'll carry enough for a pay phone and lunch, in addition to having a chance to unload those 36 granola bars General Mills gave me and packing a real meal anyway. My backpack will contain mostly food, actually...

WTF? They can just take all money you are carrying for no reason whatsoever?

Reading this, I feel even more disinclined to ever move to the U.S.

Not that we don't have some similar laws here, regarding the refusing to cooperate issue.

I would advise you to have some money. Not a lot--you're not going to be using it to make bail--but enough to buy a bottle of water, maybe even a sandwich. A cell phone, or coins for pay phones, would be useful.

Other than that: wear shoes you can walk and stand around in. Make sure you're dressed adequately for the weather--you're likely to be standing outdoors or several hours.

Use the bathroom before you set out.

A valid point. I was planning on bringing my cellular phone, but I think I'll also bring around $15.

Ooh, one better- I have traveler's checks left over from my trip to Washington. I'll write the serial numbers down of some of them and if the ones I bring get taken, I'll cancel them. But having some cash is probably a good idea anyway...

And I think I'll bring my backpack, loaded with food because I'm not sure how well other people will plan.

I've never been in a protest, but good luck to you.

Molotov cocktails.

Oh, wait, you aren't a Commie. Nevermind.

Well, this appears to be after the fact advice, but...

By all means, express your opinion and use your freedom of speech. This is good for you and for others, including those you disagree with. But be careful to break no laws. Don't trespass, avoid being drawn into violence or vandalism, and remain civil at all times.

I hope it went well.

Hmm, for all your comments and description, the peaceful protest was peaceful. And harmless. And we got a lot of people to drive by and show support. And impressively enough, no one harassed us and we were treated as we should have been treated- we were acting legally. I mean I didn't think it was that big of a deal as far as putting myself in danger. We were out there only for a couple hours anyway, so even food wasn't an issue. I mean the biggest thing I was worried about was freezing in the cold. Then again, I only went to the afternoon one, the morning could have been different.

This is Aarthi by the way. ^_^ Hi Adam.

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