Advice From a Police Liaison

  1. Introduce yourself readily to the police and smile a lot. Explain what it means to be a police liaison.
  2. Explain to the police WHY the action is happening, (briefly) so they understand why Bank of America (or any equally nasty company) is being targeted. Give them a flier or leaflet if you have one.
    a. Always refer to the demonstrators a “they” or “these people.” Do not use “we,” as you want the police to view you as somebody separate from the action, who is just there to facilitate communication. The idea is that the police will begin to view you as an ally, necessary to “get through” to the demonstrators.
    b. Also say “I believe,” so that it is clear that nothing you say is binding on behalf of the demonstrators. For example: “I believe these people are not going to disperse before 2:00 PM.”
  3. Clearly establish in advance with the demonstrators the guidelines by which they are willing to negotiate, and stick to those guidelines no matter what!
  4. That doesn’t mean you can’t test the water; If the police aren’t negotiating at all, you can say something like “OK, well, I can ask the demonstrators how they would feel about unlocking an hour earlier.” By prefacing it this way, you aren’t making any promises on behalf of the demonstrators, but you can still see if the police are going to budge at all.
  5. Notify the police of any medical concerns regarding the demonstrators. If direct support or medics are available, explain to the police who they are and why they are there.
  6. Maintain a professional and helpful attitude while still being firm about your terms of the negotiation. (By referring to the action as serious, hard work, you let the cops know that you aren’t just hoodlums trying to make their jobs difficult, but rather, you are dedicated, organized activists who are there to make an important statement.)
  7. Don’t let the police speak to anybody else (unless that person has specified in advance that they would like to speak to the police). Always direct their questions back to yourself.
  8. After the arrest is made, find out what station the demonstrators are being taken to and get the address of that station.
  9. Pay attention to names and badge numbers. Have a notepad with you to write things down.
  10. Eavesdrop if possible. Police aren’t always that great at talking quietly. What they say to you will likely be different from what they say to each other.
  11. Send love to the demonstrators and always remain calm. Smile, smile, smile, no matter what - even if the cops are nasty and freaking you out and being really mean to you. Don’t be afraid to shake their hands when introducing yourself (if they ignore it, then they are the assholes, not you).

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