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<nettime> A Receipy for Civil Disobedience
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<nettime> A Receipy for Civil Disobedience

Support for Civil Disobedience and Direct Action 

October, 2002

Many forms of political protest are safe and perfectly legal. When we engage
in civil disobedience or direct action, however, we run the risk of arrest. 
Being arrested and going to jail can be an unpleasant and even traumatic
experience, but it can also be empowering and liberating. For many people of
more privileged backgrounds, it is an invaluable education! Even in the post
9-11 climate, arrests for peaceful acts of protest are not necessarily
detrimental to one's future life'in fact, they can be a badge of honor! But the
experience is more likely to be empowering if we are prepared, and have 
organized support. 

Before embarking on an action which risks arrest: 

Arrange home support, someone who will take care of your cats, plants, kids,
excuses to the boss, or whatever else you need. 

Arrange day-of-action support, someone who will be onsite to witness the
action from a safe place, or offsite, whom you will call at a prearranged time.
If you don't call, your support person will know you are in jail and take

Arrange legal support'someone who will be your lawyer and guard your
interests. The National Lawyers' Guild has branches around the country, and many
members are willing to volunteer to support activists. You may have friends or
contacts in the legal profession who are willing to help. Do them the favor of
letting them know your intentions ahead of time. 

If you have no money, and no prearranged legal counsel, the court will
appoint a public defender. 

Before the action: 

Write or email your friends and relatives, let them know what you are
planning to do and why, and ask them to stand by to call or write letters should
you be arrested. Doing this will also help to get them involved in the issue. 

Write down the names, jail names if you are planning to use them, contact
numbers and relevant emergency information for all who are taking part, and
leave it in a safe place. Your support person should have access to it. 

Take thought to where you leave identification (if you choose not to carry
it), car keys, money and other necessities. Your support person should know
where all of it is, and have access to it. 

Don't wear or carry anything that you cannot bear to lose. 

Write the contact numbers for your legal support and general support on your
body in ink, as paper and pens may be taken from you. 

When you are arrested, you may get a phone call. You may have access to a
cell phone. If so, contact your legal and general support people. Try to
consolidate and pass on the names of all who have been arrested. 

While you are in jail, your support people can vigil at the jail, attend
arraignments or trials, let your friends and relatives know where you are, visit
you, and mobilize people to write letters or call officials on your behalf. 

When you get out of jail, they can greet you, feed you, help you get where
you need to go, and provide massage, cheers, and healing. 

The role of support can be as stressful or more as going to jail. Supporters
also need support, cheers, massage and healing! 

Copyright (c) 2002 by Starhawk. All nights reserved. This copyright protects
Starhawk's right to publication of her work. Nonprofit, activist, and
educational groups may circulate this essay (forward it, reprint it, translate 
it, post it, or reproduce it) for nonprofit uses. Please do not change any part
of it without permission. Readers are invited to visit the web site:

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