July 1, 2010
Nobody Talks, Everybody Walks
Recently, a trusted
activist and ally in the So Cal community was coerced into the local police
station to talk. The cops claimed (falsely) to have an arrest warrant, and
convinced the activist to come down to the station � or face arrest. Agents
and cops will say anything to terrorize people and it is completely legal
for the authorities to lie to you. This particular activist was targeted due
a recent falling out with other activists. Authorities most likely suspected
the activist would give information since they were drifting from the
movement due to previous intimidation*. The activist should have slammed the
door in the cops' faces and called an attorney. Among the many mistakes that
were made by this activist, the biggest one of all was opening their mouth.
In addition to the police visit, former activists in the So Cal area
were part of a swoop of visits by the FBI just this month. Agents targeted a
former vegan � who has dropped out of the movement entirely � hoping to gain
information on people still active. We must prepare ourselves for such
harassment by agents and cops or continue to face dire situations that could
have been easily prevented.
Talking to law enforcement will
always hurt, you and others. The Feds or the local police are not your
friends no matter how much they ensure you that they are trying to help you.
Even when some answers may seem �innocent� or you work off the assumption
that they have �nothing�, any information you provide them will incriminate
other activists or yourself. In the activist community, we have once
simple rule: nobody talks, everybody walks. Many people often speak freely
of this rule yet when the time comes to walk, they fall flat. It seems that
everything discussed at security culture workshops is forgotten and a state
of panic overrides common sense.
Law enforcement will always resort
to fear and intimidation and we must resist such divisional tactics. They
will instill paranoia of infiltration, government surveillance, pit
activists against each other, or use activist drama as leverage. Although
some of their advanced technology is a reality, interrogation is their
primary form of dividing communities. Even if you think they know it
already, don't be fooled because they most likely do not. If they had all
the information they needed, they wouldn't be asking any questions, now
would they? Talking to the Feds or local police puts you on the defense and
nothing you say will ever help a situation.
In addition, answering
Johnny Law�s questions presents a problem for fellow activists, many who
will no longer trust someone who talks to the cops. This cripples activists'
ability to organize once they are consumed with thoughts about what was said
and who will be visited next. Activists must then distance themselves from
an individual who is willing to talk to the authorities due to future
security concerns, thus weakening the community.
There are several
consequences of talking and none should be taken lightly. It cannot be
stressed enough that volunteering information or answering any questions for
the cops and/or agents will result in isolation from the community and your
activist friends. This in turn diminishes our effectiveness as a movement
and strengthens the opposition. When you talk, connections are made where
there weren't any to begin with. Even reciting what you think is �common
knowledge� to the police or Feds not only gets you talking, but can get
others raided, arrested or injunctions filed. Talking translates into prison
time, restraining orders, or lawsuits and a guaranteed loss of trust and
In order to resist the urge to talk, there are a few
things you can do:
Be mentally prepared: Envision what a visit would
be like ahead of time. This helps you remain calm and collected, and allows
you to recite your actions � shutting your mouth and the door. Just expect
to get a knock, get raided, even get hauled down to the local police
precinct for questioning. It makes you more prepared if it does
happen. Also be prepared to stare at the wall for hours if it does
happen- remember, no one can make you open your mouth and expel air across
your vocal cords to form words they want to hear. It is possible to look
another human in the eye and simply stare without saying a word. It makes
you uncomfortable, but its even worse for the oppressors.
not caring if they come-ah-knockin': If you are an effective activist, there
is a possibility, even a probability, they�ll visit you. Just remember,
their job is to oppress you and your community, and high on their agenda is
to impede social change. By not talking, you strengthen your community and
Don't let cops/agents scare you: Nothing is worse than
buying into the authorities scare tactics. If they have you paranoid and
scared, they have won. Just remember the silent treatment frustrates the
authorities but saves activists. If they had evidence you had committed a
crime, they would arrest you, not come around asking questions. And if cops
scare you, just think what the animals must feel when they are hauled out of
their cages to be tortured or killed. That�s something to be afraid of, not
some overweight bully of a law enforcement officer asking questions.
Never let them see you sweat: Being overly concerned, even among friends or
on the phone, will lead the authorities to your door. They will suspect you
as a weak link and easy target. Keep your eye on the ball, animal
suffering that we must stop using whatever means are at our disposal. Cops
are just an ugly distraction.
Never keep it a secret: If you are not
sure what to do, ask an attorney or activist friends. Don't keep visits,
calls or letters a secret and always alert (without scaring!) other
activists and friends in the community.
this article was written in response to a close friend and great activist
making a catastrophic and irreversible mistake. This activist was well liked
in the community and now must be distant due to the serious nature of
talking to cops. We can no longer ignore security culture as if it doesn't
matter � it does.
For more information concerning security culture
and activist safety, check out �If an Agent Knocks� by the Center for
Constitutional Rights (CCR). ---
* The activist was called and sent
a letter by the PD before authorities visited their home.
Animal Liberation Press Office
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