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Know Your Rights Information

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Every year thousands of people are improperly stopped, detained, arrested, brutalized and even murdered by the police.  Young people of Afrikan descent are frequent targets of the cops.  Although most cops don’t respect them, you do have legal rights.

IF THE COPS STOP YOU:

  • Stay calm and be cool.
  • Don’t physically resist.
  • Don’t run!  If you do, you may be shot and even killed.
  • Give your name and address but you don’t have to give any other information.

THE LESS YOU SAY THE BETTER.

Although it may be difficult, try to remember the badge number, name and a
physical description of the cop(s) who stopped or arrested you.

IF THE COPS ARREST YOU:

  • You will be handcuffed, searched, photographed and fingerprinted.
  • Once you are told you are under arrest, give your name and address; give your parents and or employer’s name address and telephone number. (This information is needed in setting bail.)
  • “YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT”. DO SO.  Besides giving the above information only say, “I want to talk to a lawyer.”
  • Don’t talk to the police, speak on videotape, or to a District Attorney about anything that has to do with the crime you are arrested for.  DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!
  • When cops stop you, ask bystanders to stand at a discreet distance and observe the police without interfering!(Cops don’t like people watching them breaking the law.)
  • DO NOT TALK TO INMATES IN JAIL ABOUT YOUR CASE.

IF YOU ARE 16 YEARS OLD OR YOUNGER:

  • You have the right to make one (1) call to your family or lawyer.
  • Remember, the cops can stop you if you are hanging out during school time or if they suspect that you are a runaway. That means ANYTIME THEY WANT TO! (Remember the previous information about being calm, not running away and memorizing the cop’s badge number, name and physical description.)
  • They can ask you your name, age and address.  Always carry ID, otherwise the cops will use it as an excuse to take you in.
  • IF THE POLICE ARREST YOU THEY MUST NOTIFY YOUR PARENTS!
  • If you are arrested, besides giving the above information, say you want to speak to a lawyer and your parents.   DON’T BE INTIMIDATED OR FOOLED INTO TALKING TO THE COPS.

If you need legal representation or advice on a police abuse or brutality case please call one of the following organizations:

Peoples Self Defense Campaign (718) 254-8800
Neighborhood Defenders Service of Harlem

(Harlem residents only)

(212) 876-5500

If you need information about a friend or relative who has been arrested, call Central Booking in your borough:

  • Bronx (718) 590-2804
  • Brooklyn (718) 875-6586
  • Manhattan (212) 374-5256
  • Queens (718) 520-9311
  • Staten Island (718) 876-8490

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