Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Safer Protest Kids

I spent Sunday afternoon brainstorming with a lawyer-friend ways to protest more safely (in a legal sense) with Protest Kid.

I've left a message with the NLG and I'll update this post when I hear back from them.

In the meantime, and in case others find this helpful:

When I put the NLG number on my arm, I'll be putting Protest Kid's emergency contact number (!Protest Daddy's) on his. (I've also written his, mine, and my out of state sister's name and phone number on a piece of paper that will live in Protest Kid's pocket.) ...I may put other numbers on his legs, when it gets warm enough for shorts... (Yeah, it starts to look like a magic totem thing, words and numbers scrawled on bodies to keep them safe. I'm a nervous Mom, deal.)

We had already tended to visit the medics when we went to a protest site/action. Now, I'll be making it a priority to greet them first and let them know that not only have I brought a kid, but I've told him that if we get separated and he doesn't feel safe he should mic check for a medic.

Here's the scarier-for-me part:

Should we get separated by police, I've told him not to fight. I've told him to do what the police tell him to do.

I hate that. He is a fighter and an independent thinker already.

But not only is he no physical match for any police officer, I like to think that Protest Kid is known and loved enough in the Occupy community that other adults might come to his physical defense-- and then people could get really (really) hurt.

So. I've told him firmly to go with the officers and do what they tell you (and my heart broke a little when tears welled in his eyes)-- BUT I also told him to mic check that he wants a lawyer and he wants a medic with him. I'm hoping that even if the police refuse, it will be on film so nothing he says (because boy is that kid a talker) can be used against him or others.

Hopefully that won't ever happen. Hopefully there will be no surprise kettles, no unannounced police riots. But the police are amping up both the violence and the randomness of their responses, so I'm pretending to be even more paranoid than I actually am and preparing for that.

Ultimately, I think Protest Kid will be safest if those around him know him and love him: so if you see a kid at a march with a yellow balloon, come say Hi.

Solidarity, because I need your help keeping my baby safe.

Thank you.


EDITED TO ADD (from my lawyer friend, though please don't sue her or me, do your own research too, etc):

...Some additional thoughts:
Consider rehearsing scripts with Protest Kid so he can assert his rights if
the system gets their hands on him.
To NYPD officers:  I want to talk to my mother.  I want to call my
father.  I want to go home.  I don't want to talk about the
Asserting his rights with words will be safer and more effective than
resisting physically.
His emergency contact info sheet should probably have a street address
where you would want for him to be taken by whoever might be helping
him.  It should have your home address so he doesn't have to remember
it if he's upset and stressed out.
I found some info that might be helpful about your rights as a parent
if you're taken into custody:
The material is for parents going into jail to serve terms, but the
principle is that you have the right to make phone calls to arrange
for the care of your child.

Again, as I get more info I'll add it, but hope this is helpful as-is.


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