More power to your child who wants to join a peaceful demonstration. Just make sure that she knows some basic rules:
- Your child has the right to peacefully protest. She can say whatever she wants during the protest as long as it is not a threat. She should be prepared to be arrested at the protest, for a variety of infractions that could include endangering public safety, not keeping the peace or even jaywalking. If she is arrested, she should be prepared for a lengthy process. Even if she is not being charged, the simplest processing can take hours.
- IMPORTANT: Your child should NOT get arrested if she has any outstanding criminal charges, including a warrant for outstanding tickets. She will be held and not released until the outstanding charges have been addressed.
- Your child should have a camera with him at the protest and can use it to discretely record any police abuse of others that they might observe. Protests generally have “cop watchers”—legal observers at protests who are watching for the police and watching their actions once they arrive. Tell your child to ask the organizers if there will be cop watchers at the protest, and to look out for them when he gets there. They can be your first sign that police are approaching and you can determine at that point if you want to be arrested (if not, he should leave the demonstration at that point).
- Most arrests at demonstrations are misdemeanors. Often there are lawyers assigned to get demonstrators out (well organized demonstrations generally have hired them in advance—your child should ask about this before heading to the march). If no lawyers have been hired and if your child does not have a lawyer’s number with him (a good idea) he will be represented by a public defender. Have your child leave home with all important phone numbers (parents, an attorney, etc.) written on his hand or arm because once he is in custody his phone will be taken away and he won’t have access to it in order to make a call.
- Instruct your child to plead not guilty under all circumstances. In order to be released someone will have to post a bond for her. This can be arranged through a bail bond company, which will need payment of 10% of the bond amount, and that 10% can generally range from $50-$200 dollars. If parents (or whomever takes responsibility for bailing your child out) decide not to go through a bail bond company then they will be expected to pay the full amount set by the court. If your child has been arrested and charged with a small infraction of the law (e.g., jaywalking), the case is likely to be thrown out and no bond will be required. Best not to assume this, however, and under the best case scenario she should have a lawyer on standby ready to represent her.
Source: Attorney Angel Harris, The Justice Collaborative. Angel is also the founder of Her Song Justice Center, a nonprofit providing legal assistance to Black women and girls in Southeast Louisiana. Thanks Angel!!