Flex Your Rights

Know your rightsLaw enforcement plays an essential role in our society by protecting the rights of individuals. There are many, many law enforcement officials out there making sure that we are safe and that those who wrongly use force against us are brought to justice.

But the fact is: Police also abuse the positions of power the state has granted them. They try to trick or intimidate people who do not know their basic rights to give up those rights. This is especially true in poor, urban minority neighborhoods because in those areas cops are under increased pressure from budding politicians to reduce drug and gang-related crime. The Washington Post writes: "According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, minorities are more likely to be searched when arrested. The bureau's stats show that 'stop and frisks' are occurring at record rates...particularly where minorities and low-income people live."

Enter Flex Your Rights, a nonprofit seeking to "educate the public about how basic Bill of Rights protections apply during encounters with law enforcement." Together with filmmakers Rubin Whitmore II and Roger Sorkin, they have produced a documentary about the 10 Rules for Dealing with Police. It's best to write these rules down and carry them with you, so that you can consult them during an encounter with the police:

  • Always be calm and cool.
  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • You have the right to refuse searches.
  • Don't get tricked into waiving your rights.
  • Determine if you're free to go.
  • Don't do anything illegal.
  • Don't run.
  • Never touch a cop.
  • Report misconduct: Be a good witness.
  • You don't have to let them in.

Also, be sure to check out the creators’ first film BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters. Here are all four parts. You may want to consider buying the DVD and showing it at your school, sharing with friends, etc.

Part 1:

Part 2:

 

Part 3:

 

Part 4: