Thursday, August 6, 2009

Your Call 080609 What does "cooperating" with the Police actually look like?

What should you do when the cops come knocking on your door, pull you over or arrest you? On the next Your Call we talk about what it means to cooperate with the police. The attention paid to Henry Louis Gates' arrest in Cambridge has focused on racial profiling, but it also tells us a lot about how police operate and how private citizens are expected to respond. Send us an email at or join us live at 11 a.m. What respect is due to the police and the civilian when an arrest hangs in the balance? It's Your Call with Sandip Roy and you.

Jakada Imani in Oakland
Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, an Oakland based organization working for racial and environmental justice with a particular focus on the criminal justice system. The Ella Baker Center was founded 13 years ago by Van Jones as an expansion of Bay Area PoliceWatch. Imani took over at Ella Baker in 2007 after leading their Books not Bars program.

Gary P. Delagnes in San Francisco
President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association

Click to Listen: What does "cooperating" with the Police actually look like?


Anachro1 said...

Last night I was walking my dog thru Golden Gate Park, and temporarily set her off leash to do "her business".

All of the sudden TWO Parl Police cars sped over, almost ran over my dog, then demanded to see my ID. As I never have need to remove my ID from it's case, it is stuck, so I am struggling to remove it.

"Hurry up!," one cop shouts at me. After the 20 minutes it took him to write the ticket, he asked me to sign it. As I am left handed, I needed to turn the pad around to sign it.

Immediately he reaches for his weapon and tells me I am acting aggressive to him. I backed away and tried to explain that as I am ledft handed, I write differently than he. I asked him if he would turn the pad for me, and he would said he not.

"Would you feel more comfortable if I signed the ticket with my Rrght hand?" I asked.

"Yes; sign with your right hand.

I am an older (60 year old) pacifist, so being so rudely attacked in this manner by a cop was very disapponting to me. But this is what we can expect with the dumbing down of this once respectable profession.

Anachro1 said...

Being of mixed race (mexican american and caucasian) I had no idea what color these cops thought I was, so I did not say anything more than what I posted in the earlier thread.

I am convinced that these 2 boys playing cop were just dying to tase someone.

Valerijan Ercegovic said...

I've taught a Free Skool Know Your Rights class for several years now. Here is the gist of what we try to get across:

This government’s system of laws exists to maintain the dominance of those in power, and the police are its armed enforcers. If you doubt this for a minute, look at who are the selective targets of local laws: People who are homeless, young, poor, black or brown, dissenters. On a global scale, look at who dies and who gets rich from our wars and other man-made disasters.

For 250 years in this country, the government and their enforcers have consistently fought against people working for liberation: Indigenous resistance, land reformers, slave revolts, abolitionists, labor organizers and workers, free-speech advocates, women’s and civil rights workers, anti-war and anti-globalization protesters, and recently, animal rights and environmental activists.

Your relationship with the police is at heart adversarial. While there may be cops with hearts of gold, the job of all police is to arrest and prosecute you. As such, it is almost never in your best interest to cooperate with the police. Keeping yourself safe and resisting the police state comes down to these simple principles:

1) Non-cooperation: If you talk with the police, you willl likely unintentionally hurt yourself, your friends, or others.

2) Do not consent to searches: Never give law enforcement the okay to examine your pockets, car, backpack, or home.

3) Remain silent: Say nothing except "I’m going to remain silent, and I would like to see a lawyer."

4) Talk to a lawyer: Never take advice from the police, they may try to trick and mislead you.

5) Use trust and intuition: Without being paranoid, work only with people with whom you have a history of trust.

6) Mutual Support: Support those who are dealing with cops and courts. Don’t leave people isolated - instead, show strength
in numbers.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the caller who said that it negatively "speaks volumes" that the SFPD chose a cop who exhibits some of the worst attitudes and negative assumptions about minorities to represent the police on today's radio program: Gary P. Delagnes in San Francisco President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

Delagnes said that he read the Cambridge police report in the Henry Louis Gates arrest incident and that he supports it.

Well, I remember when the other radio guest, fmr SJPD chief Joseph McNamara, used to be much more uniquely progressive, and much less of a relative apologist for the police -- especially when he once wrote a 2/11/96 L.A. Times commentary called "Has the Drug War Created an Officer Liars' Club?", about how police lie all the time, even under oath, and commonly commit perjury in court (commonly known as "testalying") -- and how they target the minority community, even though 80% of drug crimes are commited by *whites*.

--Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA,

[more, continued, below]

Anonymous said...

[more, continued, from just above]

Well, let's look at the Cambridge Police Henry Louis Gates "Incident Report" as yet another--and documented--case of COMMON POLICE LYING:

*Unlike* the Cambridge police report *specified* (which is merely the version the cops claim): the 9-1-1 woman *never* reported "two *black* men", she *never* conversed with the arresting officer (a Sgt. JIM CROWley), she *never* said that the "two black men" had "backpacks", but she *did report* that the two men had a couple of suitcases on the porch [virtually at high noon on what looked like a sunny day (is that when people rob houses from the open front porch where anyone could --and someone did-- see them?], she *never reported* "a crime in progress"; instead, she reported that they might have just been locked out of their own house! This untrained civilian was more neutral, unbiased and circumspect that the supposedly trained CPD "diversity trainer" arresting officer!

--Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA,
- author of "Karmic Justice" (re the police), available online

Anonymous said...


In this, the police expect, especially, Blacks and Latinos, but also Asians and often women (police departments are notorious bastions of sexism), to adopt "the proper plantation (/domestice) attitude".

As for the common claim (and sometimes assumption) that police work is particularly dangerous:


In fact, of the various categories of occupational mortality and serious injuries, POLICE WORK IS WAY DOWN THE LIST at about #11/#12.

MINING is the most dangerous work (doesn't that make sense?). TRANSPORTATION (e.g., driving a big rig truck) is in the top 5. FAMILY FARMING is much higher on the list. DRIVING A CAB is much higher on the list. WORKING AT A "7-11" and other 24-hour conveience stores is much higher on the list. CONTSTRUCTION work is much higher on the list. In these and other occupations, one is far more likely not to see their loved ones come home at night.

The police can control how they approach a suspect, and can call on all the other cops and equipment they need -- unlike subjects or suspects, even unarmed or completely innocent ones, who have almost no control over how the police approach.

When the police get shot, it's often -- as in the Lovelle Mixon case (especially for those cops shot/killed inside the apartment where cops rushed in without back-up/support) -- because the police have violated every training protocol.

-- Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA
- author of "Karmic Justice", available online

Anonymous said...

One of today's radio guest, Gary P. Delagnes, the San Francisco President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association made the sweeping claim that the problem is that "minorities overreact".

Well, did Oscar Grant "overreact", did Sean Bell "overreact", did Abner Louima "overreact", did Amadou Diallo "overreact", did all the other completely innocent and/or unarmed victims of legalized murder by cops overreact, did the peaceful (and officially permited) marchers in the L.A. Latino Immimgration Rally of 2006 "overreact" (reference YouTube) when the LAPD commenced *A POLICE RIOT* (cops who even attacked prominent Latino TV anchors and reporters)?

And how would you react if the cops came into your own home on suspicion that you might have broken-in, but you supplied not only a driver's license, but also your Harvard professor ID? -- and that, undoubtedly, you had family pictures on the walls/tables, and mail or magazines with your address on them lying about! -- besides the fact that the cops could just radio their department and get the name and address from police databases, like the DMV or even the Harvard campus, including the Harvard University police department. Cops are not short of database resources if they want to properly use them.

And how would *you* react if you were Black and the cops actually drove their police car up over the curb and across the grass in a predominantly white, upscale, university neighborhood park to aggressively and insultingly demand "*WHY*" you were there, as happened not only to me, a resident of that neighborhood (by the way, I don't dress in baggy clothes with sagging pants and I don't have gold teeth or tattoos, and I can speak university educated standard English as well as *anyone*), but also (I amazingly heard elsewhere on the radio) to a Black *woman* in her predominantly white neighborhood too. And that's just *one* negative encounter, in just *one* city, with the cops.

Even the, Black, United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, before he was Atty. Gen'l, had one of his own unwarranted negative experience with the cops.

-- Joseph Anderson
- author of "Karmic Justice", available online

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT POST Valerijan Ercegovic (August 6, 2009 12:21 PM)!

I would just slightly amend your comment, "Do not consent to searches" to:


Under certain circumstances -- but LEARN YOUR RIGHTS from a class/workshop -- a cop has a right to search (with probable cause/suspicion) or at least lightly pat you down (over your clothes, for example over pockets or a jacket, sweatshirt or sweater) without a warrant.

If a cop stops you and wants to talk to you out of the blue (so to speak) and you don't want to talk to them (and you *shouldn't*, unless maybe you are reporting a crime), always first ask, "Am I being detained" -- and if you aren't, then just say "Then I've got nothing to say to you" and walk away.

THE COPS ARE *NOT* YOUR LEGAL FRIENDS, especially if you're a minority: they are --supposedly-- "officers of the law" (i.e., the *state*). As Valerijan Ercegovic commented, "Your [legal] relationship with the police is at heart [legally] adversarial [especially in any court of law]." The cops are around to *arrest* or *ticket* people.

As for Ercegovic's point #4: "they [the cops] may try to trick and mislead you." The cops *WILL* try to trick and mislead you -- unthinkingly/unknowingly taking their legal advice will always potentially leave you open to legal danger. If you are a minority, find and take a "Know Your Rights" class/workshop by either Free Skool, or Copwatch, or any other appropriate community organization, or consult competent private legal advice (preferably from a criminal law attorney).

When the cops say "To protect & serve", they're telling us *exactly* what they do -- BUT THEY DON'T MEAN *US* (that's where we're confused)!: they really mean "to protect & serve" *THE STATE* and WHITE *CAPITALISM*.


(The YouTube video tapes of the *peaceful*, officially permitted, 2006 L.A. Latino Immigration March & Rally graphically shows that -- let alone old Civil Rights Movement film footage -- even of Blacks just trying to register to *vote* in this nominal "democracy". White male cops even physically clubbed white women, back in history, when women were peacefully marching to get the vote or when white women were protesting for other equal rights in the '60's & '70's!)

But most of all, THE COPS ARE *NOT* HERE TO IMPROVE BLACK/LATINO/ETC QUALITY OF LIFE OR THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN MINORITY NEIGHBORHOODS -- especially, but not only, white cops aren't -- because ALL COPS -- white or minority (even Black police chiefs, and most political/public officials, including Black mayors), male or female -- are forced, coerced or pressured to adopt the white institutional racism, sexism, and general social attitudes of American police departments. And in fact, those cops who don't are soon forced out or drummed out (and often those cops lives are put in danger by other cops, or are set up, or left without back-up, by other cops to get shot/killed by drug dealers or other armed criminals).

--Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA
- author "Karmic Justice", available online

Anonymous said...

The problem is that anyone can be a cop. Sorry everyone, these positions are not just reserved for "whitey". You don't get harrassed by a race, you get harrassed by an officer of the law. Why, because he is an officer of the law. when you are the law more often than none you dont think it applies to you. Whoever thinks that pissing off a cop by following any previous posters steps is going to help them get out of a situation has another thing coming. you should cooperate to the fullest extent.

Anonymous said...

"Wonderbread" (Anonynous) said... (August 7, 2009 6:23 AM):

"Whoever thinks that pissing off a cop by following any previous posters steps [you mean, knowing your *legal* rights?] is going to help them get out of a situation has another thing coming."

I see you've never been there (as a victim of police abuse) -- or you're white (and more readily get breaks, if you even ever been abused by any cops, "Wonderbread") and/or either conservative or apolitical. *OR* maybe you're one of those abusive and at least morally (if not also criminally) CROOKED COPS -- otherwise, why wouldn't you want both cops and civilians to act according to their *democratic*, legal, *Constitutional*, rights?

It's worked for *me* -- and is *strongly* recommended by a Black former LAPD friend of mine (who quit the force and went back to school to get a PhD in criminology), and a veteran criminal law attorney friend, and any other competent legal counsel. In fact, they've all said that if the cops can trick you into voluntarily giving up your *Constitutional* legal rights, the more they will do so in any encounter -- but the more you are able to assert your *Constitutional* legal rights, the less likely a cop will violate them. Knowing and expresssing your legal rights can (if not always will) protect them in an encounter and at the scene, and, if not at the scene, help protect them later in court if you have previously asserted them.

The cops are less likely to abuse your rights, when they understand that you know what they are -- not that cops necessarily won't abuse your rights, especially if they think you're too poor/underprivileged to get legal counsel and go to court. You see how quickly the police department dropped the charges on Henry Louis Gates -- because, under Massachusetts state law, the charges were *illegal charges* in the first place! Gates' attorney would have whipped the cops asses in court.

So, are you saying that if a cop just says (for example, on a real/phony traffic stop), "By the way, let me search your car", and the cop doesn't have a warrant (or legal and direct probably cause), that any person should immediately just say, "Why *surrre*, Officer Friendly, I won't ask you if you have a warrant! Take your time! Always happy to let you do whatever you want"? If so, then give us your verifiable name, address and workplace and I'll inform the local cops that, with your open permission, they can go snoop around in your and your parents/relatives and white friends' cars or homes anytime the cops want to without a warrant.

In fact, the *less* polite I've been with cops, and the *more* firmly, and matter-of-factly, and even coldly assertive I've been about knowing/articulating my legal rights, over my lifetime, the *more* civil cops have been with me in any encounter with them.


"Wonderbread" (Anonymous) then said... (August 7, 2009 6:23 AM):

"Why, because he is an officer of the law. should cooperate to the fullest extent."

And adopt "the proper plantation, head-bowin', foot-scrapin', hat-in-hand-holin', yes-sir-massa, obsequious attitude"?

-- Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA