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September 08, 2006

Avoid getting arrested

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A truly useful public service announcement from the ACLU: How To Avoid Being Arrested.

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» Know your rights from Big Monkey, Helpy Chalk
I plan to show it to my children when they are old enough....I don't know why no one told me these things when I was young. [Read More]

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I am pissed, because I have a much lower-production-value pamphlet on the same topic 1/2 written on my hard drive for my clients. Then again, I can simply forward this to the ones who I think need it most (if they have access.)

In the related videos, if you want a laugh watch this:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3530950247603899964

I guess since it isn't the 50s anymore, they can't claim that it makes you Communist or gay.

The video uses three examples, two involving white college age kids and one involving a black college age kids. The advice for the white kids is specific, and when it is followed, the officers leave. In the first case they are in a car, and the second case in their house. Each time they refuse to consent to a search, and the officers leave.

The black kid is a pedestrian, and the advice given him is vaguer and the outcomes less optimistic. “Depending on your state laws, the police may be justified in demanding identification.” “It never hurts to refuse consent to search, but the police will probably pat you down anyway. The most concrete advice is all about not making things worse: Don’t talk back. Don’t run.

I know that this difference is largely a product of your rights as a pedestrian instead of a driver or someone in their home, but the choice of race is striking.

Also, in each example, the citizen is primarily confronted by a person of the same race and gender as they are. The young white woman is confronted by a white female officer. Don’t know what to make of that.

I think the movie was hinting that young black men are more likely to be hassled by the police on the street, and that white people get a lot more deference from the cops.

That is certainly a part of it. But why the race/gender matching? Do they also want to avoid criticism from police that they are refusing to acknowledge police diversity? Would the sight of a white cop interrogating a black youth simply be too inflamatory?

The movie is sending more messages

Ignore the last sentence fragment in the previous post.

Yeah, I don't know what to make of the race/gender-matching. Could it be an oblique way of reinforcing the point that the police are never your friends when you're at risk of being arrested?

The movie was trying to dispel the stereotype that every police officer is a white male good ol' boy. It's important for citizens to realize that even cops who seem a lot "like you" aren't your buddies. Maybe the matching was part of an implicit warning that you can't count on preferential treatment just because the arresting officer is somehow "like you" and/or unlike the stereotypical police officer.

Could it be an oblique way of reinforcing the point that the police are never your friends when you're at risk of being arrested?

I didn't think it was that oblique. That was certainly the take-home message I got from the race/gender matching.

That was worth the 45 minutes! Thanks.

For anyone who's interested, a brief non-video version of the information is here.

Chris Rock on how not to get your ass kicked by the police
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gCCjFbFXn8

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