Know Your Rights for Activists, Protesters, & Organizers by Rural Organizing Project

Best Practices & Tips for Protesting:

  • Wear a mask and practice physical distancing.
    1. We are still in the midst of the COVID pandemic and it has disproportionately affected BIPOC communities. 
  • Don’t provoke or antagonize police or counter protesters with words or actions. 
    1. If counter-protesters or police respond with violence and arrests, the people of color in your demonstration will face much harsher repercussions than you will. Putting them at risk is itself a form of privileged violence. Organizers will set the tone of the action, we will follow their lead.
  • Prepare to take care of yourself.
    1. Bring water, snacks, and any medication you might need. Use the bathroom beforehand – especially with COVID restrictions there are not easily accessible public restrooms.
    2. Wear a hat. Wear glasses instead of contacts. If you have long hair, wear it up. Write any essential phone numbers on your arm.
  • Phone etiquette & safety.
    1. Disable facial / fingerprint recognition on your phone. Use a numerical password. 
    2. Use your phone to lift up the voices of people directly impacted. 
    3. Keep in mind that doxing (publishing personal details with the intent to harm) and targeting activists is common, so only post with permission.

Your Rights as a Protester:

  • The right to protest and seek changes to laws and government practices is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment, and the Oregon Constitution.
  • It’s the responsibility of the police to protect your right to peaceful protest.
  • Under the U.S. Constitution, police must give you a chance to leave if they are telling you to do so. 
  • When you are lawfully present in any public space, you have the right to record police doing their jobs. Oregon law states you can record images, video, and audio if doing so “openly and in plain view.”
  • Police may not confiscate or demand to view your photos or videos without a warrant, nor may they delete data under any circumstance.

On Interacting with Police:

  • Assert your rights, but fight about it later. Don’t fight with or run from the police..
  • If stopped, ask if you are free to go. If yes, calmly walk away. If not, ask why you are being detained.
  • Police cannot detain you without reasonable suspicion that you are involved in a crime.
  • If you are detained, ask the officer to state their reasonable suspicion. Police must be able to put it into words. This is important to share with your attorney.
  • If detained, you have the right to remain silent; use it. Clearly say, “I wish to remain silent; I want an attorney.”
  • Do not reveal your immigration status to the police; you are not required to.

If You Witness/Experience Police Misconduct or Abuse:

  • Note the badge, car number, and what agency they work for. If the badge is covered up, note that, along with a physical description and other identifying information.
  • Take photos and videos. Set up your phone to save them somewhere other than just on your phone (i.e. to email, social media, or the cloud).
  • Note the location and surrounding context – street names, relative structures, surrounding activity.
  • Write or record your recollection of events as soon as you can – circumstances and context are important.
  • Get contact info from other witnesses.
  • Photograph any injuries.
  • Alert the organizers. And contact these organizations with info on police misconduct or abuse:
    1. National Lawyers Guild: 503-902-5340
    2. ACLU of Oregon: 503-227-3186
    3. Oregon Justice Resource Center: 503-944-2270

 If police are called either by counter protesters or yte allies, this will impact the BIPOC, Latinx, & Immigrant communities more than yte folks. We need to be conscious of this, not call police, and put our bodies in between police and/or counter protesters and priority populations if there is an issue.

Information shared with us by Indivisible Bend.