The surprise police raid is one of the most terrifying tools in the bourgeois law enforcement’s arsenal. Far too often, political activists find themselves in this very frightening situation, even those professing pacifistic views and posing no threat to the political order. Because many of these activists fail to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves, such raids typically yield successful prosecutions and lengthy prison sentences.
If you’re politically involved in an activist organization, or are even a lone wolf, there is no sure way to guarantee that you won’t become a person of interest to local, state or in the most serious cases Federal police. However, there are easy and practical steps and tips for activists to remember to decrease their chances of becoming victims of police repression.
1) There’s No Such Thing as Anonymity.
Advances in communications technology, including social networking, online instant messaging services, e-mail, list-serves and other tools have made it possible for like-minded activists to communicate with one another from nearly all corners of the globe. On the other hand, it has made identifying and compiling compromising information on individuals and networks of individuals that much easier for law enforcement agencies.
Nowadays, practically everyone with an internet connection has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and even more likely an e-mail address. More often than not, these accounts are linked to the individual users’ personal identity (name, cell phone number, e-mail address). If that weren’t bad enough, each individual is usually connected with like-minded colleagues and peers. With a little investigative work, it’s not hard for law enforcement agencies to discern entire networks of Marxist-Leninists operating in a given locale – just by perusing online social network sites of careless cadres.
Even more, what you type, read and share with others (even through the most seemingly private means) is not really private. E-mail correspondences can be handed over to law enforcement agents by internet service providers; chat-logs can be archived and later used as evidence against you; seemingly innocuous wall posts can become priceless in the hands of skilled investigators and prosecuting attorneys.
You can rest assured that law enforcement has been quick to adapt itself to the changing ways in which humans communicate with one another in our highly digitalized world. “Tapping” is no longer limited to placing a physical audio-surveillance device on a telephone line. Cell phones, including SMS text messages, are easy for any local police department to surreptitiously tap into in order to gather damning evidence against a suspect. When it deems necessary, any law enforcement agency can turn the very communications tools you use on a daily basis against you.
Documents and other incriminating evidence you thought you deleted from your hard-drive are far from irretrievable. Using electron microscopes, the National Security Agency (NSA), which specializes in the using the most advanced communications intelligence technology, can recover heavily encrypted information and even reverse electronic shredding.
Therefore, use your judgment. If you’re thinking something that you’d feel uncomfortable sharing with a stranger, then you probably shouldn’t text, e-mail or post it to your Facebook profile (yes, even if you have enabled your privacy settings!).
2) Be Vigilant.
Prior to making raids, police spend weeks, if not months, conducting intense undercover investigations of their intended subjects. Law enforcement tactics when conducting undercover investigations of a potential suspect are broad and can include provocateurs, informants, sub rosa and electronic surveillance and a vast array of other methods legally at their disposal in order to attain their one goal: an arrest and eventual conviction of their target.
Chances are you won’t know when you’re under the watchful eye of law enforcement, but if you’re involved in activities that you think may catch the interest of the police, even the most benign, then you better think twice about what you say and do.
Be careful who you share sensitive information with, even if you don’t think “it will hurt.” Prosecuting attorneys and skilled interrogators are experts at making you incriminate yourself. If you know of planned actions that will likely lead to police repression, then it is in your (and your comrades’) best interest to keep quiet. You make the investigators’ job that much easier when you hand them what they’re looking for on a silver platter. Your best defense is making them work for everything.
This becomes all the more important when you engage in political activities in an organized (no matter how loose or informal) fashion. It behooves a Party and its cadres to exercise extreme discipline when it comes to sensitive information. Candidate members and newcomers should be given information on a “need-to-know” basis. Even trusted comrades should be viewed with skepticism if you notice even subtle changes in their behavior. Infiltrating an organization with one of its own or even turning a formerly loyal comrade into an informant has become a specialty of law enforcement in the United States – especially Federal police.
3) Don’t Draw Unnecessary Attention to Yourself.
Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist organizations are the vanguard of the working class. They should lead by example and spend their every waking moment and resources fighting for proletarian revolution. They should not, however, engage in petty criminal behavior that does not further the proletariat’s revolutionary struggle and only brings them into the attention of law enforcement.
Individuals may feel the urge to show their “revolutionary credentials” and tag the outside wall of a local business with, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Is it worth the risk of getting caught, not to mention an entirely useless waste of time and spray-paint? Chances are you’re not going to outsmart the police. They will catch you, and because you’ve given away the fact that you’re professing a revolutionary doctrine (if only at the most superficial level), they may have good reason to keep a watchful eye on you. This means that you and your closest comrades have now unnecessarily come to the attention of law enforcement.
If you’re serious about scientific socialism and the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism – then don’t jeopardize yourself and your comrades by doing something foolish.
4) Remember Your “Rights.”
Whenever you’re encountered by a law enforcement agent, whether a routine traffic stop or an unexpected visit to your residence, you do have basic rights, so to speak.
First, you always have the right to remain silent.
You also have the right to refuse to consent to a search – either of yourself, your car or your home.
If police are NOT putting you under arrest, you have the right to walk away.
You have the right to an attorney if you’re arrested. Exercise this right IMMEDIATELY.
There are also a few suggestions that may help you in the event such a situation ever arises:
Always stay calm – you’d be surprised how quickly raising your voice can become “resisting arrest.”
Do not interfere with police – that’s obstruction of justice.
Do not lie – most likely you’ll get caught, and it will only hurt you. Instead, remember to remain SILENT.