Following the murder of Scout Schultz by Georgia Tech Police, Atlanta universities have been cracking down on protesters and dissent on campus. Several people are facing aggressive prosecution for participating in protests, and students are being kicked out of school based only on the claims of the police.
Police investigators are engaging in a witch hunt to try to identify and persecute activists. We have reports that police have pulled students out of class for interrogation. Cops also came to the home of someone they claim was identified in surveillance video at a protest and arrested them on bogus charges. We expect the police will continue this repression, because it’s an effective way to make people too afraid to continue very necessary resistance organizing.
Georgia Tech will do whatever it takes to make sure nobody mentions the name Scout Schultz ever again. You can resist this intimidation by learning how to deal with political repression, educating each other, and supporting those who are targeted.
The following is information about your rights when dealing with police and investigators. We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. See the last section if you need to consult with a lawyer.
KEEPING SAFE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
In general, but especially on social media, avoid discussion and speculation about who attended what protests. For example, Georgia Tech Police have released very grainy images of people at a protest. They want to arrest and interrogate them, but it’s not at all clear who the protesters are. Guessing or gossiping about who you think is depicted in these and other pictures could put people at legal risk. Even if you’re joking, mentioning someone’s name could be enough to get both you and them visited by investigators.
IF THE POLICE OR OTHER INVESTIGATORS APPROACH YOU
You do not need to speak with them. You have a constitutionally protected right to remain silent, and the cops can’t punish you for declining to answer questions.
Even if you think that it could be helpful to answer certain questions, avoid doing it without a lawyer present. You should wait until you have legal support with you, and then decide how to handle any questions. Ask for the investigator’s contact information and say you will get back to them. You can then contact Copwatch or the NLG for further advice.
They may try to pressure you, but don’t let them trick you! You can say “I’m sorry, I’ve been advised not to speak to you without an attorney present.” If they press the issue, you can say “I’m going to remain silent and I want to see a lawyer.”
IF THE POLICE COME TO YOUR DOOR
Read this guide for comprehensive advice on how to deal with investigators who may want to arrest someone or search your home: https://crimethinc.com/2017/08/24/when-the-police-knock-on-your-door-you…
IF YOU ARE A STUDENT
University officials may try to threaten you with sanctions or even expulsion if you don’t cooperate with their investigation, but you do not have to. Remember that even if police are not present at university interrogations, all information will be turned over to the police. So the same cautions against answering questions apply.
You have the right to have a lawyer present at all times while dealing with school officials, even if it’s not a criminal matter. As always, you are not required to answer any questions, and should decline any interview without a lawyer present.
IF YOU ARE A WITNESS
If you have witnessed arrests or police violence at any protest recently, it’s very important to document your recollections. Even small details in your statement might be the key evidence to exonerate someone who was falsely accused of a crime. However, keep it private. Do not post pictures, video, or written accounts online. Instead, save it somewhere safe so that it can be provided to defense attorneys if needed. Contact Copwatch for advice on how to get your written statements and recordings to the appropriate lawyers safely.
We are not lawyers, and we can’t offer legal advice. However, we can give you more information about your rights. If you are approached by investigators, you can call Copwatch at any time, even during the incident, to get more information about your rights and options.
If you are in a situation where you need legal advice about political repression, let us know and we will do our best to find someone who can talk to you.
National Lawyers’ Guild