What to Expect When You Are Expecting… To Be Arrested
Richmond Legal Process Guideline for Anarchists and Others

This is an outline for some important things to keep in mind when embarking on any enterprise which may lead to police detainment or arrest.

This guideline is specifically aimed at folks who might be at risk for arrest due to the political nature of their activities – from protests to civil disobedience to other forms of direct action.

Even when it is no one’s intention to be arrested, the police state will do what it do.

Preparing ahead of time, mentally and logistically can make both those incarcerated and their support network a lot less stressed out.

This guideline is a work in progress and we encourage any suggestions or additions – let us know at wingnut_collective@yahoo.com

This text is available online at: http://www.wingnutrva.org

The Wingnut Anarchist Collective house on the Northside of Richmond. The Wingnut is a sober space- no booze, no drugs, no macho bullshit. The Wingnut has resources such as free zines and literature, tools, and comfy couches to offer the community. We are down with hosting meetings or events for other groups. We will likely host workshops in the future on using certain tools. If there are workshops you want to do but you need a location feel free to contact us. You can bring donations for the Really Really Free Market or Food Not Bombs by anytime. We are also willing to host acoustic shows and events like benefit dinners if they are sober. Just talk to us! Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 7 is Craft Night, bring projects you are working on, projects you want to be working on, random supplies, sewing projects, collaborative art ideas etc. Every Sunday is Food Not Bombs- come by around 1 to help decide on a meal, wash and cut produce, cook food, wash dishes, and then take it to Monroe Park to share with the community!

Before the event/action/whateverweliveinapolicestateforgoodnessake

Know Your Rights Training (Richmond Copwatch offers this training for free!)

Security Culture Training (Wingnut Anarchist Collective offers this training for free!)

Group discussion with participants if possible- to discuss goals of event, response to police, etc. ie. if its civil disobedience then maybe a goal is for people to be arrested. But if you are not trying to get arrested what is the plan? Where should people meet up? etc.

Action briefings combined with a kind of pep rally can be really important. Get everyone together to talk about their experiences getting arrested and going through the legal system. This is especially helpful for people who have never been arrested before who are really pumped and scared at the same time. It can give people the opportunity to ask specific questions about how the local police operate and maybe what to expect. People should be briefed on stuff like what not to bring to a protest (drugs, alcohol, knives, pets?) why you should take your contacts out before an action, unless you are 100% sure that chemical irritants won’t be used (but are we really ever sure?), what to bring to an action (sunblock? rain gear? dry socks? food? water? cameras? rocks?). Obviously all the logistical stuff. Who is the medic? Who is doing media? Who is the police liason? What do you do if those people get arrested? Is there a runner for each camera to get it the hell out of there in case the cops try to take it from you? Have people voice their concerns or anxieties around getting arrested. What scares them the most? What makes them excited? How can we overcome those fears? It’s also important to let people know that it is OK to back out at the last minute if they start to feel unsure or uncomfortable. It sucks to feel pressured to “be a hero” or “man up” about getting arrested/dealing with police. Let folks know that support work is just as valid and important as actually going to jail.

Collect the following from participants: contact info, legal names, emergency info, medical info (do they need meds?), job info (do they want you to call their boss?), pets info (does someone need to feed their fish?), etc. BEFORE the arrest if at all possible.

Collect more tangible things too: medications, herbal supplements, heirlooms, keys, phones, money, first born children, etc.  If folks are not wanting to identify themselves they may want to give up their IDs as well. Make sure the support people are able to keep all of these things safe for the people getting arrested.

Folks who require medication, and so don’t want to leave it with the support people) should make sure that they have the original prescription bottle. This should include the name of their doctor, the dosage, their legal name, etc. If you try to take in a bag or bottle of un-marked medicine that looks sketchy they will probably not let you have it.

If possible have a phone number for people to call from jail/lockup. This number should be written on their bodies with a permanent marker. It is really important that people understand that they neeeeed to call this number when and if they are allowd a phone call – anyone else they want to contact can be contacted by the folks doing legal support.
Otherwise the folks doing legal support might worry themselves sick and be lacking the info they need to help people out how they want to be helped. (More on the legal phone line below). Its a good idea to write the legal number a bunch of times on your body, and ALSO on your underwear, if you wear those.(Maybe you should just for the action) Sometimes you can sweat the sharpie right off your skin, especially if its super hot.

Another important aspect to consider is knowing what the people who get detained or arressted want. Do they want to be bonded out ASAP? Do they only want to be bailed out? Is anyone a priority to get released? Try to collect any bail or bond money from participants ahead of time. If people might have to be bonded out, someone will have to sign off on that bond. It would be a good idea to figure out who that person could be before everything goes down. Folks being bonded out will probably not be able to leave the state until their court date.

One potential way to organize the information about people who might be arrested would be through a form. It could include the following information or different depending on folks wants and needs: emergency contacts, medication requirements, what they want to eat when they get out of jail, how long they prefer to be in jail (sometimes prioritizing who needs to get out of jail first is important, some people can’t handle it for more than a day, some folks are like fuck it, I will hang out for a week+)

When planning an action where people will be bailed or bonded out, the person or persons who will be signing for the participants needs to feel comfortable. They are taking on a legal and financial risk. It is probably important for them to know the person they ar signing for won’t skip town.

Action debriefing is super important as well!! What did people like about the action, what did they dislike and/or how would they change it? Sometimes you just need to complain about how shitty the cops were being to you in jail and have people listen who were there and know what’s up. Was the goal of the action met? Did the contingency plan you had need to be utilized? Did it work? ETC.
You can help make sure a de-briefing happens by scheduling it before the action ever takes place. When people are being bonded/bailed out folks tend to want to go see loved ones, check on their houses, go do something fun etc. Which is all good and healthy- but it can be hard to then try to wrangle everyone back together to discuss what happened. Even if you can’t plan a specific time or date for the debriefing (cause who knows when they will let your friends out), just everyone agreeing on having a debriefing can help ensure that it happens!

Once people have been detained/arrested

The Legal number should be kept monitored 24/7 until everyone is released.

People who are not arrested should know not to call that number and tie up the line while people are still incarcerated. Offer an alternative number on a cell phone for other outside supporters to call.

Supposedly landlines are necessary for phone calls from certain jails and prisons.

The Wingnut Anarchist Collective has a landline which is useful for this purpose. If you are interested in using our phone please get in touch to coordinate with us. (804) 303 5449

When you are waiting to hear from your friends who have been arrested, their are some ways you can try to get information, even if they are denied their phone calls.
In Richmond, these are some numbers to call:

Lockup: 646 6692

City Jail: 646 4464, 646 4463

Court Building: 646 6677, 646 6678

This is why having legal names and an understanding of the desires of the incarcerated person are important. If they want to be unidentified, don’t call asking for them. But if they do, you better know something other than their sweet nickname of Garlicface or whatever 😉

Something else to consider when calling various bureaucratic police machines to find your friends and ascertain their status is that folks will frequently give you the run around. Keep a pen and paper handy, and be assertive with whoeever picks up the phone. If they say they can’t help you, ask for the number of someone who can.

Another good thing to have on hand would be the contact info for a couple bail/bonds people in your area. If you are stuck having to bond people out you will need one of these people.  There are a couple in Richmond, maybe call around and find the best price. Taylor’s Bail Bonding is the person we used to bond out 7 people from the Monroe Park Occupation. His business is in our neighborhood, and he has actually stopped by our events a couple times to say hi. Bonding out 7 dirty anarchists, over half of whom were homeless, is not the type of business many bondspeople are into.  Glad to have a nutty bondsman in the area…

Taylor’s Bail Bonding

(804) 228-0007

2809 North Ave Ste 101
Richmond, VA 23222

It might also be rad to have a pre-written statement about the arrests that can be quickly sent out as a press release or put on websites etc. The folks on the outside doing support will likely feel pretty stressed and hectic. The more that is taken care of ahead of time the better. If your goal is for their to be arrests then it might be ideal for the people planning on being arrested to play a role in the writing of a statement about it anyways. The support people could simply add the exact details to a more general political statement written ahead of time.

Along the lines of the statement about the arrests and knowing what the folks arrested want, the support people will probably be faced with some level of media attention after the fact. If they know how the entire group wants to deal with the media it can take a load off of their shoulders.

When you get your friends back

When people are getting bailed or bonded out or simply released there are number of things that can be done to make things run more smoothly. Depending on the situation various levels of support might be needed by those being released.
Things to consider include – consensual hugs, food (what are their dietary needs?), drinks, emotional support, medications, phones, medical attention, a safe place to rest or sleep, etc.

Planning for Court

If multiple people are arrested on similar charges they may decide to coordinate their strategies. However, it is fairly difficult to predict which trumped up charges the police will use at any given time, so this pretty much has to be figured out at the time.

Do you need cute outfits? Probably. Do people need to have a sleepover the night before? What needs do the folks have? Easiest way to find out is to ask.

Do people want court appointed lawyers?
Does anyone have a lawyer pal?
If possible being in touch with a lawyer ahead of time would be amazing.

But lets be real, call the National Lawyer’s Guild 1 888 654 3265, call the American Civil Liberties Union , and ask for volunteer lawyers and donations in the post-arrest statements you release.

Jeffrey E. Fogel Law Offices of Jeffrey FogelWork Phone: work434-984-0300Fax: 434-220-4852Email: jeff.fogel@gmail.com
913 E. Jefferson Street
Charlottesville, Virginia
22902Address:Categories: Civil rights/liberties, Constitutional law, Police misconduct, Prisoners’ rights, Spanish speaking

Steven Rosenfield
Former legal aid lawyer concentrating in civil rights and criminal defense law, emphasis on capital and post-conviction work and prisoners’ rights. 33 years of experience.
Work Phone: work434-984-0300Fax: 434-220-4852Email: attyrosen@aol.com
913 E. Jefferson Street
Charlottesville, Virginia
22902Address:
Categories: Civil rights/liberties, Criminal defense, Death penalty, Policemisconduct, Prisoners’ rights

ACLU of Virginia

Executive Director: Kent Willis
530 East Main Street, Suite 310
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 644-8022 Fax: (804) 649-2733 | Email: acluva@acluva.org
Web: http://www.acluva.org

Folks will also have to determine if they want support at the court date- whether that be protesters outside or friends inside etc. If you do, then a call out for support will have to be written.

The Court process could be a zine in and of itself so we are leaving it at this for now.

Comments are closed.