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I really want to join up with the Occupy Chicago protesters. I’m into the message, but I absolutely can’t get arrested. Do you have any tips for avoiding arrest?—Matt, Bucktown
Protest only in legal locations That means public space, not private space—unless the owner has given permission, says local civil-rights lawyer Mark Weinberg. Typically the “traditional public forums” include sidewalks and parks, before curfew. The Chicago Police Department arrested the 175 Occupy Chicago protesters in Grant Park on October 16 after warning the demonstrators that they were violating the 11pm park curfew and giving them the option of leaving.
Protest peacefully Use common sense, Weinberg urges: Don’t obstruct traffic flow or disturb the peace by acting in an overly rowdy manner. This isn’t the London riots, so don’t throw shit.
Avoid talking to the police “No good can come of it,” Weinberg says. When cops want to act out of bounds, there are a number of excuses they can use to arrest you. “ ‘Disorderly conduct’ is a catchall term that police use all the time to arrest people that they just want to harass. What’s the definition of ‘disorderly conduct’? Often it’s just telling a cop that he’s wrong.”
Never consent to a search Another trick cops may use to nab you: literally looking for a reason. If an officer tries to peek into your bag or asks to comb through your purse or backpack, Weinberg advises, loudly say, “I do not voluntarily consent to this search!” so witnesses can hear.
Don’t fib to the five-0 “Absolutely, 100 percent never lie to the cops,” Weinberg says. “Some people think it’s cute to give the wrong name. That’s a felony.”
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