Table of contents 


I.             Introduction and Background Information  pp. 1-3


II.          Vulnerable Persons and Vulnerable Times p. 3


III.       Preparing for Action: What to bring and what to wear p. 4


IV.        Identification and protecting identity p. 5


V.           Action: Interacting with police, search and seizure and arrest pp. 6-14


VI.        After arrest: Bails, Charges, Consequences, and Bills pp. 15-16


VII.     Demands in jail p. 17


VIII.  Being a Legal Lizard pp. 18-19


IX.        Border Savy p. 19


X.           Action Aftermath pp. 19-21


XI.        Closure and Evaluation p. 21


XII.     Appendix:

i)              Consensus Decision Making

ii)            Anti-oppression principles and practices

iii)          Glossary of terms





Legal training workshop 


To start the workshop have the facilitators and volunteers book participants as they enter the room. This will involve  getting their name, ID, searching them, etc. This should be as realistic as possible (perhaps costumes, a camera, fingerprints, etc.).


Part I: Introduction and needs assessment:

 Have the facilitators introduce themselves and outline that this workshop will provide critical approaches to legal system, considering law as an oppressive force, developing potential for creative approaches and responses to the legal system

We are not lawyers.  We have educated ourselves on the law and have close relationships with lawyers.

Privacy: Ask any media to leave. Remind people that while information shared is private, please frame all questions in hypotheticals and do not share criminal intent or background.

Have participants introduce themselves and identify their rationale for the workshop and the needs they are hoping to have met. Have a volunteer record on flip chart paper all of these ideas so that they can be referred to throughout the workshop.


Materials: Flip chart and markers

Time: 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the group


Part II: Introductory activity one: Continuum Activity

The purpose of this activity is to allow the faciliator and the participants an opportunity to articulate initial beliefs surrounding the law, legal knowledge, their rights and ideas surrounding this. This activity also serves as an icebreaker to allow participants to feel comfortable with one another and allows a lot of discussion to take place in a short period of time.


Activity instructions:

i)               Demarcate the front of the room to represent strongly agree and the back area of the room to represent strongly disagree and the middle is unsure, undecided or grey area. 

ii)             Ask a question or give a statement and have participants move to the space that best represents their opinion on the question or statement asked. Ask two or three people to articulate why they are standing where they are. 

iii)            Repeat the exercise with a new question or statment.

·      Remind participants that this is not a discussion, but more seeing initial opinions, thoughts and ideas.

·      Questions can be developed by the individual facilitator but a few suggestions are as follows:

The legal system treats every individual in the same manner

I am aware of all of my rights

The system of policing in Canada is necessary



Materials: Questions and a space to move freely in

Time: 15-20 minutes depending on how many questions are asked and how many people are asked to give responses


Part III: Introduction to the workshop ideas and philosophy

This part is where the facilitator can provide the objectives of the workshop and these may vary depending on the facilitator

Objective 1: To provide participants with the necessary information that allows them and others to be safe within an action situation


Objective 2: To have participants think about the larger ways in which the legal and policing system functions and how they can utilize the information from the workshop in daily contexts.


Objective 3: To think of different initiatives that can be taken outside of an action context such as creating legal collectives


Objective 4: To provide additional resources to enable participants to further their own knowledge and actions.

Background information:

Refer to the information package regarding the Sections of the Charter, Law in theory and practice, Being Proactive, Solidarity, and the information below on policing and the state.



Provide participants with background knowledge about the larger context of the legal system and how it operates. Allow participants to become familiar with the Charter but also how it operates differentially depending on who you are.  Allow time for some brief discussion and questions


Materials: Background information

Time: 15 minutes


Police and the State (This information on Police and the State is provided by OCAP legal at


Historically the role of policing/police institution has been/is the maintenance of order, which means:

·      the containment of the poor

·      the protection of property/wealth

·      the replication of the social order (that means the replication of a capitalist, patriarchal and racist hierarchical order)

The State facilitates the role of the police institution by:

·      Enacting legislation that will secure and maintain convictions - i.e. Safe Streets Act (Toronto, Young Offenders Act, Bill 39, Community Action Policing )

·      Utilizing the judicial system at discretion

·      Providing technical and logistical support: increase in budgets and toys such as a helicopter, stunt guns, toxic gasses, black uniforms, etc.

·      Assuring impunity: there is no effective accountability in place. In order for police officers to follow repressive measures, there has to be the assurance that there will be no repercussions.

In the present economic and social order there is a tremendous social upheaval as a result of globalization and the implementation of a capitalist agenda. It becomes essential for the State to control/monitor two groups: the poor and the politically active. In order to facilitate control and repression the right wing ideology deploys a variety of discourses.

·      Emphasis on chaos and anarchy ­ Toronto Police Chief Fantino referred to OCAPıs June 15 as "domestic terrorism"

·      Fear mongering regarding an "increase in crime" especially, youth violent crime.

·      Criminals are racialized - use of code words such as "gangs" (i.e. the Police association poster showing Latino youth as "drug addicts, rapists and pimps).

·      Deployment of discourse regarding the protection of "family values," white women and children (i.e. Mayor Lastman stating that women are terrified of squeegee kids, children cannot play in the parks because of the needles and condoms)

·      Criminalization of behaviour previously disregarded: graffiti, panhandling, squeegeeing, sleeping in parks.

·      Role of media -crucial in spreading the news about crime and myth making with all sorts to cop shows.

There is allowance for an increased public political role of the police: 

·      G8 and Police Media campaign

·      Public support for politicians who are "tough on crime"

·      Targeting critics

·      International political network with other police forces especially the U.S.

There has been an escalation on the level of police repression (nationally and internationally) such as violence, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and the level of repression through court proceedings, such as denial of bail, imposition of unconstitutional conditions, house arrests, etc. In the near future, we will be escalating resistance and mobilizing massively. We should expect the police to position themselves openly as a military force.



Part IV: Vulnerable Persons and Vulnerable Times


This section correlates with the previous one and helps participants to understand how the law operates contextually and is oppressive to certain groups and individuals.



i)               In small groups have participants come up with a list of all those people they think would be vulnerable at an action and everyday. Have participants share their lists.  The facilitator can give examples of others that may have been overlooked.  Explain to participants that it is important to keep vulnerable persons in mind throughout every topic in the entire workshop. This is something that always needs to be taken into consideration.

ii)             In addition have participants on the other side of their paper, identify vulnerable times within an action.


Materials: Information from handout on Vulnerable Persons, flip chart paper and markers

Time: 10-15 minutes


Part V: Getting Ready for Action!!


This section goes covers in detail the information that participants may want to think about and be prepared with before going to an action.


Activity A: Dressed and ready:

Have participants break into small groups and provide them with small pieces of paper, tape and markers.  Ask them to choose one person from their group to be the one heading to the action.


i)               Ask participants to write each item on a piece of paper and stick it to the person that will be going to the action. Have each group present and add omissions.

ii)             Alternatively, you could have one volunteer and collectively do the same activity, asking for volunteers to write down items. This would take less time

Materials: Paper, tape and markers, background information

Time: 15 minutes

 Background Information:

What to bring/wear

Do not:

·      take (or at least get arrested with) a knife/gun/crossbow or other weapon on your person

·      take something that could easily be construed as a weapon (placard on a 2x4 etc.)

·      bring drugs or attend drunk or high

·      wear bright colors (especially yellow rain coats)

·      have personal aid devices which are especially recognizable (stickers, colours, etc.)

·      bring anything you can't spare to lose

·      have sensitive information like your address book, day timer, journal, action planning notes, or videos about revolutionary bombers in the U.S. on you


·      have lots of layers of clothing, including extra clothing in plastic bags

·      take water

·      take a pen, paper and other documentation materials if you can (camera, video camera, etc.)

·      bring food

·      have a cell phone

·      carry your medication, prescription and doctor's letter on you (unless your meds will put you at risk and you don't have to have them-refer to disability info)

·      have phone number for legal center written on your body in permanent ink

Focus on high risk: go back through applicable groups and what they would need

 Activity B: Who to Bring??

This is a discussion section where the facilitator can review the idea of an affinity/posse/cadre/cell/ and have a discussion around how to protect yourself and also furthers the notion of solidarity.

·      never go to an action alone

·      it is best to go with a small group of 6-8 people (ideally an even number) who you trust

·      discuss your arrestability and needs with group (i.e. are you high risk? what is necessary to ensure your whole group's safety?)

·      set up buddy system and ways to ensure that you can keep track of each other throughout the action

·       ensure that your group has a legal point person who will not be attending the action who has all of your personal info (medical info., your child care worker, family contacts etc.)


Part VI: Identification:

This section covers discussion over when participants need to identify themselves, if they need to carry identification and why or why they would not carry identification.


Activity: Have group brainstorm their ideas around rights and how they can protect their identity. Review omissions.


Materials: Information from handout on identification and protection of identification.

Time: 5-8 minutes

Additional background information:


·      decide in advance if you are going to take your I.D. with you.

Why you might want to bring ID:

·      you could be released from the station if you are given good conditions (don't sign anything until you talk to a lawyer)

·      there are no precedents in Canada to show that not bringing your I.D. is going to help you or anyone else in the long run. there is little or no chance that the crown will not press charges against you given the current climate and feelings of the state towards OCAP

·      in the past, activists have been kept in jail after being granted bail in order to "verify their identity" even once their I.D. had been presented. this was a blatant attempt on behalf of the state to punish activists attempting jail solidarity.

·      if you are on medication they will most likely require a way to identify that the meds you have with you are yours.

Why you might want to leave your ID with your point person (or someone trustworthy who will not be attending who is in the city)

·      in the past when large numbers of people were arrested (i.e. Seattle and D.C.), not having I.D. meant that most people arrested were released with minimal consequence. However, this was in the united states and there is no reason to believe that this would happen here.

·      you could lose it

·      if you are a non-citizen who could face deportation because of your involvement, immigration often takes people's I.D. from them until they leave the country. if you don't have it, they can't take it

·      if you are a minor and don't want to be separated if it is a mass arrest situation or you don't want to have you parents notified


·      decide in advance what conditions you are willing to sign in the worst case scenario. This seems like it is over planning, however if you are in jail after an action, there is a good chance that your mental health may be fragile and it may not be the best time for you to make decisions.

·       firmly understand what you are willing to give up and what you aren't. (possible conditions will be covered later in the workshop)


Some suggestion about how to protect yourself, or how others can help to protect you:

·      wear extra padding on parts of your body that may be extra sensitive to blows from the police (e.g. protect implants, recent surgeries);

·      you may choose to pass as your assigned gender to avoid being targeted. This may make you feel as though you are betraying your gender identity and everything that you have fought for. This can have longer term repercussions for your mental health, donıt say or do anything that you cannot live with.

·       have a friend/member of affinity group go down with you




This large section will review possible scenarios, possible charges, interaction with the police and consequences. It will be the main part of the workshop and will cover all of the basics to be prepared and safe.


Activity one: Three Role Plays: Interacting with police, Search and Seizures, Arrest

i)               Have one person act as an officer who approaches, tries to get information, ID and search bag, pockets.

ii)              Have another volunteer act out what they feel are the ways that they can deal with this situation.

iii)             Review with participants the section on dealing with police interactions and the section on searches and seizures that are in the information handout.

iv)            Have participants break into partners and practice with one person being a police officer and the other person being an individual who is encountering the police.  Have participants switch so both individuals have the opportunity to practice the scenario.

v)             Review if there are any questions.

Materials: Volunteers, background information on interactions with police, search and seizures and arrest and detentions.


Conversations/street encounters:


Roll Play One: Conversations

Facts: A crime was committed at one of the entrances to the building one hour before the training started. Everyone in the building is a suspect. None of the participants should be aware of the facts. Police Questions- What time did you get here? Did you park in the parking lot? Did you come in the front door or the back door?


Goals: Learning that self-incrimination is complex, that officers do not have to say when they are conducting an investigation, and that silence is valuable. Understanding and practicing the right to remain silent. Participants should learn to ask if they are being detained.


Go over the law with participants and then practice the roll play again until people are comfortable asserting their right not to answer questions and asking if they are being detained.  


When officers try talk to us:

·                 Do ask ³Am I free to go?²           

It is often not clear if you are being detained or not.

·                 Do not tell them anything else. 

You are under no obligation to speak to law enforcement officers. You have a right to remain silent. Any statements you make to an officer that are against your own interests may be used against you or someone else in a criminal proceeding.

·                 Do not believe that what they say to you must be true.

They do not have to tell you why they are speaking to you.  They do not have to tell you that they are conducting an investigation, or that they suspect you are a criminal. They are allowed to lie to you and to trick you into giving them information.

·                 Do just walk away if they tell you that you are free to go.

We do not have to speak to law enforcement officers. If we are not being detained we may walk away and go about our business

·                 Do not run away, even if they said you are free to go.

Unprovoked flight (running) from law enforcement officers may give them probable cause to stop and arrest you.





If we are not free to go:

·                 Do say ³ I am going to remain silent, I would like to speak to a lawyer.²

If you are not free to go you are being detained. Law enforcement officers must have some ³articulable suspicion² that you have or are engaged in criminal activity. A detention without articulable suspicion may be unlawful. Evidence gathered from an unlawful detention may be excluded from criminal proceedings against you.

·                 Do not tell them anything else, except possibly your name.

If you are being detained you have a right to remain silent. They are free to ask us questions but we do not have to answer. Anything we say to them may give them a reason to arrest us or may be used against us or someone else. They may be nice or very intimidating, and they may get very mad if we do not answer their questions. However, it is always safest to remain silent and ask for a lawyer.

·                 Do not lie to them.

·                 Do not believe that what they say to you must be true.

They are allowed to lie to you.


Note on remaining silent: You always have a right to remain silent. If at some point you speak and then would like to remain silent again you may do so. 




Roll Play Two: Detentions/ Searches

Facts: Same as One. Police detain random participants, pat them down, ask them to empty their pockets, and ask them to look through their bags.


Goals: Understanding Terry Stops and searches. Understanding the exclusion rule. Participants should learn to ask why they are being detained, to remain silent, and to refuse consent to a search.


Explain the law and practice the roll play again until people are comfortable exercising their right to be free from illegal searches.


If officers begin, or ask to search us:

·                 Do say ³I do not consent to this search²

If you are being detained, officers may frisk you. A frisk is pat down on the outside of your clothes to search for weapons. The pat down is only to ensure the officerıs safety and should not include opening any pockets, containers, or bags. If they begin to search your stuff, you should always tell them that you do not consent to the search because silence may be interpreted as consent. They may lawfully search you or your things if you give them consent.


·                 Do speak clearly so any witnesses can hear you say it.

·                 Do not be surprised if they continue to search you anyways.

Just because you say you do not consent to a search does not mean they wonıt. It may mean that any evidence found may be kept out of a criminal proceeding against you.

·                 Do not try to physically stop them from searching you.

Trying to stop them from searching you will probably lead to arrest and additional charges (and legal searches!)




Optional Roll Play: Booking

Facts: Same as One. Booking officer asks routine biographical questions and then asks extra questions. What time were you arrested? Why were you arrested? Where were you arrested? Were you alone? What were the names of witnesses?    


Optional Roll Play: Interrogation and Counsel

Once participants understand the right to remain silent that is basically what they need to know for arrests. It may be useful to practice remaining silent in tough interrogations.


Facts: Pick two participants, A and B. Tell them they were hard up for money and they participated in a joint robbery of a grocery store. A held the cashier at gunpoint, fired one  shot in the air, and took the money. B drove the get away car. They have both been arrested and they have not talked to each other or an attorney since the arrest. Two officers, Good and Bad, interrogate A and then B  (have the other participant wait out of earshot). The police want to pin B with gun because of Bıs criminal record.


Interrogation of A: Good, ³Look we know youıre a good kid that got mixed up in this, you are in a lot trouble, we can make this easy on you if you tell us what happened.² Bad, ³Not only are you going to go down for armed robbery, but we can slap with an attempted murder charge for the shot fired. They are going to love your candy ass in prison, when youıre doing 25 to life.² Good,  ³you werenıt the shooter were you?² Good, ³If you tell us B was the shooter, weıll do everything we can to get you a break. Youıre a simple accessory and you get off easy.² [Keep questioning to try to get A to crack.]


Interrogation of B: Good, ³Make this easy on yourself and tell us what happened.²  Bad, ³Your friend already sold you out. He identified that you were the shooter and you masterminded the crime. I got news for you the old man behind the cash registered had a heart attack after you left and he died this morning [a lie], the shooter is going down for murder.² Good, ³ Just tell us you werenıt the shooter and we will make this easy on you.² [Try to get B to crack.]  


Goals: Practicing remaining silent under pressure and asking for an attorney. Exposure to interrogation techniques.

If we are under arrest:

·                 Do say: ³I am going to remain silent, I would like to speak to a lawyer.²

Anything you say may be used against you or someone else. You have a right to remain silent.

·                 Do repeat this mantra to any cop who asks you questions after your arrest.

This is true even if you did speak to them but wish to stop. You may be questioned by many different officers. Tell them all that you wish to remain silent and want to speak to a lawyer.

·                 Do not believe that what they say to you must be true.

They are allowed to lie to you and they commonly do.

·                 Do not talk to anyone other than your lawyer about the circumstances of arrest, even other prisoners, friends and family.

It can be very tempting to talk to other prisoners about what happened on the street. Donıt do it. Anything you say to your family or friends, visiting or on the phone may be used against you or someone else.

·                 Do not plead guilty at arraignment.

You will be given another court date and it is always a good idea to take enough time to fully evaluate what is going on before ever pleading guilty.


Lawyers: If we cannot afford a lawyer the courts must appoint one at arraignment. We must also be given a reasonable opportunity to contact a lawyer, including by using the phone to call friends or family. Conversations with anyone who is not our lawyer or working for her or him may be used against us.

Booking: If our charges are minor, we may be let go with a signed promise to appear (if you get one of these, keep it and show it to a lawyer). If they are going to hold us in jail they will put us through booking procedures. This may include fingerprinting, mug shots, and biographical questions: name, date of birth and address. If booking questions go beyond this, donıt answer and ask for a lawyer to be present. Refusal to cooperate with booking procedures may result in additional charges.

Interrogation: Officers may try to question us in jail. If you ask for a lawyer to be present, officers should stop questioning you. They are allowed to lie to you and often do.

Arraignment: You should be arraigned (brought before a judge) in less than 72 hours. At arraignment you will be formally charged and have an opportunity to enter a plea to the charges. If the government does not bring charges against you will be allowed to go. If they do charge you, you will be given another court date and then either be allowed to leave with a promise to appear at the hearing or you may have bail set. In more serious cases you may be held in jail without bail. If we show the judge we are likely to appear in court, it is more likely we will leave with little or no bail. Having a reliable local address and ties to the community help us get little or no bail (it helps to have a person they can call who can verify the name and address you give them). If bail is set, once it is paid we will be released.


Private Spaces/Warrants:


Our privacy rights our most secure in our own homes and officers need a warrant to enter. However, in some cases they do not need a warrant: if they have our consent, they see something criminal in plain view, or if there are exigent circumstances.


When law enforcement does not need a warrant to enter our homes:

1.                  Consent. Law enforcement officers without a warrant cannot enter our homes without our permission (just like vampires). If you allow officers into your home, anything illegal they see in plain view may be seized and used as evidence against you. They are also allowed to do a cursory search of any space they are in for their own safety. Anything they find in this search may be used against you.

2.                  Plain View. Plain view applies to anything an officer may see through a window or open door. If officers see anything they reasonably believe is illegal it will give them probable cause to get a search warrant, or in some circumstance, it may give them a reason to enter your home and seize that item.

3.                   Exigent circumstances. Under certain circumstances officers may enter your home without a warrant and without your permission. This includes emergencies, or they followed someone from the scene of a crime to your house, or if they believe someone is being injured, or they reasonably believe that you are destroying evidence.




There are two types of warrants: search warrants and arrest warrants. A search warrant will be used if they are looking for items, or if they are seeking to arrest someone in your home that does not live there. An arrest warrant will be used if the officers are seeking to arrest someone that lives your home. A warrant must have some supporting probable cause although the warrant may not say the facts it is based on.  If any of these elements are missing or defective you should tell the officers that you do not believe the warrant is valid and you should not consent to the search. In the case of warrants for the arrest of a person, you should have the opportunity to have the person come out of the house voluntarily rather than officers entering the home.


Roll Play Three: Warrants and Entry into the Home

Facts: Police come to a house with a search warrant for a person in the house. Describe an imaginary setting with an inside outside and door. The police knock on the door and demand to be let in.


Goals: Understanding warrants and searches. Understanding how to minimize police presence in the home. Participants should practice reading warrants and not consenting to searches. Participants should decide whether to send the wanted person out.


If cops are at the door:

·            Do ask if they have a warrant.

·            Do not let them in without a warrant.

·            Do say ³I do not consent to a search²


If they have a warrant:

·            Do step outside and close the door behind you.

If the door is not closed, they often try to push their way in. Also, anything they see in your home may give them a reason to go in immediately or may be used against you.  

·            Do not lock the door behind you.

This puts you in the position of having to decide whether or not to open it for them later.

·            Do read the warrant carefully.

A warrant must have a description of the items sought or the person to be arrested, a   description of the area to be searched (including address), a date, and a judgeıs signature.

·            Do say ³I do not consent to a search²

You have no way of being certain that it is a valid warrant.

·            Do not consent to searches of any specific rooms or spaces inside.

It is possible that the search may be legal for some locations inside but still need your consent to be legal in others. Again, donıt let them trick you into consenting to any part of a search.

·            Do consider asking a person to come out to voluntarily submit to an arrest warrant.

Any time officers are in our home, anything they see can be used against us. If an arrest takes place inside a building, they may use the opportunity to conduct a search. If the arrest in inevitable, you may decide that it is better off happening outside. 


Note: If you actually interfere with them entering, you will probably not be successful. They are allowed to take measures necessary to complete a search or an arrest pursuant to a warrant, regardless of whether or not you consent. Anything you do to obstruct officers may be construed as a separate offense. If you physically obstruct them, you may end up charged with assaulting an officer.  However, you can never be sure that a warrant is in fact valid. It is safest to repeat that you do not consent to a search and allow them to enter on their own.




Driving is a privilege subject to state licensing procedures. Therefore when we are in our cars we give up some of rights regarding the freedom not to be stopped and speak to law enforcement officers.



Officers may stop you in an automobile if they think you have broken traffic laws. Or they may stop you if they have probable cause to believe you have committed a crime or have illegal things in your car.

If instructed to do so the driver of a car must stop, show identification, and answer routine biographical questions (name, date of birth, address). Failure to do so may give officers cause to arrest you. Officers may order the driver or passengers out of the vehicle and may frisk you to check for weapons.


B.                 Searches.

1.                  Officers do not need a warrant to search your car when it is on the street, but they must have probable cause that a car contains illegal things. A search without probable cause may be illegal. Evidence from an illegal search may be excluded.

2.                  The search may include the glove compartment or the trunk. However, officers need a warrant to look through containers such as bags, backpacks, and purses in the car.

3.                   Officers may search anything in your car if you give them consent.  If officers ask, or begin to search you should say, ³ I DO NOT CONSENT TO THIS SEARCH.²

4.                    Anything illegal officers see in plain view in your car may give them probable cause to search it.

If you are arrested at your car officers may search the car. If your car is impounded officers may legally inventory everything in the car including the contents of bags.

Time: 20 minutes

Activity Two: Optional : Rights in regards to the Police(provided by OCAP legal collective)

This activity could also be incorporated as questions on large flip charts and placed on the walls of the room, so that participants could few them in breaks. If it is done this way then have the answers placed with the questions.


1. When the police stop you on the street and ask you for ID, you must produce it immediately.

False: You do not have to show your ID to the police UNLESS you are being arrested or detained. The situation is different if you are driving a vehicle or riding a bike.

Reality: Cops often demand ID from people who have not committed crimes and are not suspects in crimes. They might harass you, threaten you with arrest and/or assault you if you refuse to produce your ID.

Things to Try: You might produce your ID. You could point out that you know that you do not have to produce it but are going to do so anyway. You can show them your ID and then "politely" ask them to produce theirs (taking note of their badge number). You can ask if you are free to go - if so, then leave.


2. When the police stop you on the street, you must answer all of their questions.

False: You do not have to answer any questions if you are simply being stopped on the street. In an arrest situation you have a right to silence and a right to consult with a lawyer prior to answering questions.

Reality: Cops will often try to force you to answer questions by intimidating you, harassing you and assaulting you if you still refuse to answer questions. They will often prevent you from accessing a lawyer, and lie about your right to silence.

Things to Try: The Common Front Legal Committee HIGHLY recommends that you not speak to the police. Anything you say can be used to incriminate you or other protestors.


3. When you are driving and the police pull you over, you must produce ID.

True: Drivers are covered under the Highway Traffic Act which requires you to produce your drivers license and registration. This is also true if you are riding a bike.


4. When the police arrest you, they must tell you why you are being arrested.

True: The police must tell you what you are being charged with. They cannot arrest you unless they are charging you with a crime.

Reality: The police often don't tell you why you are being arrested. In fact, they often arrest protestors without meeting the requirements for an arrest under Canadian law (for example, arresting people when they do not have "reasonable and probable grounds" for believing that a crime has occurred).

Things to try: Ask why you are being arrested and what the charges are. If they refuse to tell you, make sure you tell this to your lawyer.


5. The police must inform you of your rights to remain silent and your right to speak to a lawyer when they are arresting you.

True: the police are required to let you speak to a lawyer in private and should give you the phone number of a lawyer if you do not have one. If you are a young offender, you are allowed to call a lawyer and an adult you trust and are not to be interviewed until that adult is present.

Reality: The police often do not tell you your rights. They try to trick you into speaking to them about what happened and will not let you call your lawyer.

Things to Try: Don't talk to the police after you have been arrested, regardless of your actions. You may want to tell them your name to help you get released but you may not want to give them your name if you are not in the country legally. You should not lie to them because you can be charged for this. You should not talk to anyone at the station or in jail about what happened because they may be the police or working for the police. Explain that you want to talk to a lawyer and if you don't have one, ask for the phone number for duty counsel (free legal advice over the phone open 24 hrs a day).


6. You can be arrested for speaking disrespectfully to a police officer.

False: There is no law against swearing at or speaking disrespectfully to a police officer.

Reality: The police do not take it very well when you speak disrespectfully to them. A comment directed at them may cause them to assault you or decide to arrest you for no reason.

Things to try: Make sure people have your back!


7. The police are not allowed to assault you. If the police assault you, they can be charged with assault just like anyone else.


Reality: Police almost always get away with beating people up. Other officers who see an officer beating up a person will remain silent and lie about it if they are asked. The police complaints process is useless as your complaint is investigated by other officers. Cops are rarely charged with assault and if they are, they are almost never convicted.

Things to Try: Protect yourself. Travel in groups and keep track of friends. Pay attention to what the cop is asking you to do and be aware if they are getting mad. If you do get beat up, try to pay attention to the name or badge number of the cop who is assaulting or threatening you. Go to a doctor or a hospital right away - but one you choose yourself, not one the cops take you to. Try to get someone to take a picture of the injuries and write down what happened to you. If someone saw what happened, ask them if they will act as a witness and tell them to make detailed notes about what happened and ask for their phone number.


8. The police have to treat every person they deal with in the same way.

True: According to the Police Services Act the police are not supposed to be racist and should treat you with respect. Section 1 of the Police Services Act says that service should be provided in accordance with the following principles: 1) The importance of protecting the rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 2) Respect for victims 3) Sensitivity to the multi-racial and multi-cultural character of Ontario

Reality: The police are racist. Many of them say racist things and harass and assault and sometimes kill people who are not white. The police specifically target people of colour, psychiatric survivors, Squeegeers, queers/trans people, the homeless, and the poor to harass and assault. Rich white men are definitely treated with a lot more respect by the police.

Things to Try: Try to protect yourself by sticking together and watching out for your family and friends. If a cop does something racist or homophobic, try to pay attention to what they said or did and try to get their badge number or name. Make notes about it as soon as possible with as much detail (time, dates, witnesses conversations with the police) as you can remember. If you were in a group when it happened, make your notes separately. If there was someone else who saw what happened, ask them if they will be a witness and get their phone number.


9. People are allowed to sleep in public parks.

True - In theory people are allowed to be in public space. However, there are City By-Laws which bar people from "dwelling" in a park without a permit. Whether or not this means that people cannot sleep in parks is a difficult question to answer. However it does mean that you cannot set up dwellings, such as tents or make-shift shelters in public parks.

Reality: Police often pressure people who they have decided are "undesirable'" out of public spaces. Police often give people tickets for trespassing even though they are in a public space where they have every right to be. It is not clear that these tickets would hold up in court if you were to fight the charge.

Things to Try: In Toronto, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty collects such tickets and fights them in court. Usually the police make mistakes when they are giving out trespassing tickets because there are strict requirements for such a charge. Usually the charges are dropped. If there is no one doing this kind of thing in your community, you can try to get it going yourself. Or contact OCAP for advice on how you can fight your ticket on your own.


10. The police can take your belongings if you are suspected of using it to commit a crime.

True: The police can take your property if it is evidence that a crime has been committed. These possessions must be returned within 3 months unless a JP orders that they be kept longer. If you are being arrested, the police can search you and seize anything in your possession or immediate surroundings to use as evidence against you. So be careful what you have with you!

Reality: The police often take the belongings of people that they believe are homeless or are squeegeeing. We have heard of them showing up at parks with garbage trucks and throwing out all of the belongings of the people there. Prior to the Safe Streets Act, police regularly confiscated squeegees, although squeegeeing was not illegal. Now that the Safe Streets Act is in effect, the police can take people's squeegees as evidence of a crime.


11. If the police stop you on the street, they can search you and your belongings. This includes a strip search.

False: The police must have a good reason for searching you. They can search you, your clothes, and anything you are carrying if they arrest you or you consent to a search. You can also be searched by the police if:

·      they find you in a place where they are searching for drugs and they believe that you have drugs

·      they find you in a vehicle where alcohol is being illegally transported or consumed

·      they have reason to believe that you have committed or are committing a weapons offence.

These are the ONLY times you can be searched. A strip search is NOT a routine procedure ­ there should be a reasonable belief that you are hiding evidence or a weapon in a body cavity. You should not have to disrobe in front of someone of the opposite sex or in a public place.

The Reality: Police often strip search and search people with no reason. They use strip searches as a form of intimidation and torture. It is often done in full view of officers of the opposite sex or in high traffic areas of a police station.

Things to try: You never have to consent to a search. If the police are searching you, and none of the situations described apply, you should tell the police that you object to the search and talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. If you are asked to submit to a strip search you should tell the police that you want to speak to a lawyer right away and that you do not consent to the search.



Activity 2:  ABCıs of Actions: After arrest, Bail, Bills, Charges, Court and Consequences

This component of the workshop allows participants to familiarize themselves with the range of possible charges that may be incurred within an action.  Again it is important to stress the individuals and groups that are at a higher risk and to also discuss who can or cannot participate in specific actions.  It is important as a facilitator to situate the discussion of actions/tactics in the solidarity framework that is set out from the beginning.


Background Information:

Have a brief introduction of who can or cannot participate such as single parents, individuals with work obligations, communities of color etc.  For more detailed analysis of this refer to articles by Pauline Hwang, Anti-Racist Organizing: Reflecting on Lessons from Quebec City and Where was the Color in Seattle by Elizabeth Betita Martinez. These articles are included in the end of this training guide and can also be found at the Colors of Resistance website at



·      Review with participants the following information on arrest and detention, court appearances, consequences and the possible charges from the information booklet.

·        The second part of this is to review the new legislation that has being passed, Bills C-35 and C-36. Stress that it is not possible to go into extensive detail on the Bills within this workshop but that it is recommended that participants do further reading on the topic.

·      The third component that can be discussed that is not in the information booklet is on arrest after the fact. This refers to when individuals are arrested weeks or months after the action occurred.  See below for additional information.

·      The fourth component that can be referred to again is the section on solidarity and what participants can do after arrest and in the long term.

·      Remind participants that the facilitators are not lawyers and will not advise participants on whether they should or should not participate in specific actions.

Have participants think about the terms, arrestable and non-arrestable. Although some people may wish to identify themselves as "unarrestable", it is important to be aware that there is no role in a protest that guarantees an arrest will not occur.

·      It is also important to rid yourself of the notion that if you are innocent you will not be arrested. Sometimes non-arrestables are particular targets of the police - for example the police have been known to target legal observers, street medics and radical cheerleaders. The police often arrest first, and sort out the evidence later - their immediate goal is to end the demonstration.

·      Additional idea: If time allows have participants or facilitators within the group who have previous arrest experiences as a way to discuss the process (from being taken to the station, fingerprinting, searches, being placed in a cell etc).


Background information:

Arrest after the fact

If you are not arrested at the action, you can still be arrested afterwards. There are a number of different tactics the cops can use in how they deal with your case.

a) You could be picked up on the street or at another action without your knowledge that you were wanted.

·      in this instance you will have little warning and cannot easily prepare

·      contact a lawyer as soon as possible and remain silent

·      if you anticipate that this may happen to you, don't carry illegal or questionable substances on you

b) A police officer may go to your home with the intention of arresting you. If you are not there, they may leave a card or tell the person that you are wanted for questioning.

·      there is no such thing as being "wanted for questioning" in Canada.

·      if this is the case, they are probably going to arrest you for something and are trying to get you to turn yourself in.

·      you have the option of laying low and waiting for them to issue a warrant or turning yourself in

c) A police officer may go to the home of your parents, friendsı parents, your employer, or someone else who you know

·      they may do this even if they know where you live

·      they can do this as a psychological pressure or to have a negative impact on your life

·      if this happens you can either lay low or turn yourself in

d) They could issue a warrant for your arrest and pick you up by surprise outside of your home.

e) They could issue a warrant for your arrest and go to your home to arrest you

·      an arrest warrant allows them to arrest you, not to search your home (this pertains to your car and office as well)

·      the police can arrest you for anything illegal that is in plain sight or smell

·      generally one should keep illegal materials put away

·      if you don't want to risk this, go outside to meet the police if you can

f) They could issue a warrant for your arrest and you suspect this is the case

·      many times one will know that the kops are looking for them as they will have spoken with someone they live with or know

·      you can either hold out or decide to turn yourself in

·      at this point it does reflect well on you if you turn yourself in but you are not legally responsible to do so until a police officer tells you or your lawyer that there is a warrant

If you are told by a police officer that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you do not turn yourself in, it is a criminal offence.

If they do not issue a warrant on a summary offense 6 months after it occurs, the statute of limitations has run out. Many people aware of this try to use this to protect them, however, usually the police will charge you with an indictable offense instead. This statute has nothing to do with when you are arrested, only when the warrant is issued.

If you turn yourself in after a warrant has been issued:

·      contact the legal center before you do it

·      have a conversation with a lawyer before you do it

·      you can often arrange the date and time for (i.e. 2 weeks from the first time your lawyer talks to them)

·       you can sometimes have a lawyer arrange conditions of your release in advance


Materials: Background information

Time: 25 minutes


Activity Three: D is for Demands within a jail situation

The purpose of this activity is to review the potential for creative use of demands within a jail situation.


·      Review with participants the idea of demands and give examples as listed below

·      Once again refer to the idea that not all individuals can participate in solidarity actions within a jail setting and that decisions should be made with consensus or in an anti-oppressive way.


Background information:

Tactics and Demands (this information was provided by the OCAP legal collective)
A tactic is something you do (e.g. chant incessantly). A demand is something you want (e.g. some water). You use tactics to get demands met (e.g. we're going to chant incessantly unless you bring us some water). Matching tactics to demands and escalation are keys to successfully accomplishing our collective goals and achieving collective bargaining. Also key is to look carefully at the numbers we have and the pressure we can potentially create. Our tactics are limited only by our imaginations. By using consensus and respecting every voice we should come up with a set of demands and corresponding tactics. Communication is key: make sure the person (cop, guard, judge, Crown, etc.) you talk to can meet the demands and is affected by the tactics. Every action chosen may have a response. It may be we get our demands met, it may also be that they try even harder to silence us. Discussions of possible ramifications for tactics is a key part of decision making, not just for us but for those who were not a part of the consensus decision, such as general population.

If our tactics arenıt making them give us our demand we can stop or escalate. If singing isn't working, try singing off key. Then try screaming; then screaming and pounding on the door; etc. Make sure the tactic is still on the same level as the demand. We should not escalate so much that we completely exhaust ourselves, or our options, for a relatively minor demand.


Discuss examples of demands: Give an injured or ill person immediate medical attention ­ Return a person who has been separated ­ Allow group visits with our legal team ­ Give everyone the same charges and sentence (prevents some people ("leaders", people of color, etc.) from being singled out for harsher treatment) ­ Release general population from lock-down

Some Jail Solidarity Non-Cooperation Tactics: Not bringing ID and refusing to give names ­ Refusing to speak or answer other questions ­ Refusing to promise to appear in court (this forces them to keep people locked up, clogging the jail system) ­ Chanting, singing etc. incessantly ­ Refusing to follow orders ­ Going limp ­ Changing clothes regularly or stripping (confusing guards and protecting those identified/targeted by clothing ­ Fasting (still taking liquids)

Stress that not everyone can participate in all jail solidarity tactics. Remember that some people need to get out (i.e. theyıre parents, or have medical needs, or have been assaulted). Solidarity means being able to make room for different needs and abilities and not resenting people for making the choices they need to make to protect themselves.


Materials: Background information

Time: 15 minutes


Part VIII: Being a Legal Lizard

This section of the workshop focuses on providing participants with the knowledge and skill of legal observing within a demonstration situation and in a daily context.  Reinforce the idea that documentation can be critical in the trials of those arrested. This sections covers tips in how to do this most effectively.

In addition to this remind participants to be in constant contact with the legal team and provide important numbers at this time



Background Information:

·      This information can be found in the information booklet and can be supplemented by the following information which, covers similar ideas.

Take a paper and a pen and write down significant information:

·      write down names of arrested persons and their phone numbers, their friends phone numbers, their condition before they disappeared from the scene, the words spoken by police during their arrest, their words, the number of the car or wagon they were put into, etc., badge numbers and/or descriptions of police involved in the arrest;

·      write down police badge numbers, of those that are aggressive, those who make arrests or are just on the scene, since sometimes there may be testimony from police who were not in fact on the scene at all.

·      record license plates of vehicles and/or squad car numbers and the description and location of vehicles.

If you are not able to take down information at the time (which is likely), sit down and write out everything you remember about the incident - particularly details like times, locations, movements, statements or conversations, etc. You are not likely to remember all of these details by the time a trial occurs.

Cameras: There is no general right to privacy in Canadian law. You can take any personıs picture without their permission. If you have a camera at a demonstration, use it to:

·      provide some deterrence to police brutality - the presence of people taking pictures can sometimes prevent the police from doing things which they might otherwise do;

·      take pictures of the license plates and cruiser and badge numbers you want to record;

·      take pictures of the police, both plain clothes, and uniformed. This will help later to identify particularly brutal cops;

·      take pictures of those you only suspect are police. They may show up later in more interesting circumstances;

·      take pictures of any incident, including arrests - though see the warning below;

·      take pictures of the general lay out - this can help in court.

·      Warning: DO NOT TAKE PICTURES THAT MAY INCRIMINATE PROTESTORS! Your camera can be taken from you, or pictures can be obtained later by police through search warrants etc. These pictures can be used as evidence against your fellow protestors.

·      If you plan to bring a (video) camera use new film (should the police confiscate it they wonıt have other private footage of yours).

·      Bring a self addressed stamped envelope so you can mail it to yourself (in case scene gets heavy, you may need to ditch the film quick. Good to do this after you finish each roll/video)

·      In the event that you think the police may arrest you/ if they begin to chase or target you, if you have potentially damaging negatives destroy them! Expose them to light or break open videos and rip up film.

·      If you have pictures that you WANT to use in court, preserving the photographic evidence for the court is critical. The main problem is that of "continuity". This means that in the court it is necessary to show a continuous chain of possession of the film, negatives and prints. This must be done to counter any suggestion that these items have been tampered with. it is necessary to have the negatives so that it can be established that the prints are in fact derived from the negatives, etc. Also, it must be shown that the prints made were not selected to avoid the more damaging evidence (or to provide only the damaging evidence).

If you have any documentation, contact the legal team right away!


Materials: Background information

Time: 15 minutes


Part IX: Border Savy

This may or may not need to be included in the basic rights workshop, although there may be questions regarding border crossings. If you do not include this section, it is still a good idea to review with participants the nature of immigration laws and how this is also connected to the anti-terrorist legislation.  Remind participants that while they may not have border concerns that this is an ongoing reality of many individuals and being in solidarity means having an understanding of these issues.


Activity: Review the information on Border Savy that is contained within the information booklet with participants.

Ask participants to share if they have any experiences with border crossing and the process involved.  This can also be linked with a discussion on border actions and the possibility of having groups or individuals at borders.


Materials: Background information from booklet

Time: 20 minutes


Part X: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and the Aftermath of action: (This information is from the OCAP legal collective)

This component is not part of the information handout and should be reviewed with participants as how to deal with the context of post action.


Background Information:

Anti-psychiatry disclaimer: regardless of how we view psychiatry and how Post-traumatic Stress syndrome is used in psychiatric diagnosis, and regardless of whether we recognize it as a "psychiatric condition" the legal team does view the process of fighting this system as an emotionally draining experience on each individual involved. From friends and supporters, to legal teams and those arrested, the violence of the state has a very real and insidious impact on our ability to cope and struggle.

At any point in our lives, folks actively fighting the system/ those being targeted by the state, can and do experience post-traumatic stress syndrome. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms:

·      Re-living/ re-experiencing trauma

·      Anxiety

·      Depression

·      Suicidal behaviour or thoughts

·      Fear

·      Paranoia

·      Inability to focus or make clear decisions

·      Loss or gain of appetite

·      Blaming ourselves or those we love

·      Hurting ourselves or others and acting out aggression

·      Insomnia/fatigue

·      Nervousness

·      Sickness

·      Demoralization

·      Denial/ refusing to cope or address our mental health

·      Withdrawal

·      Avoidance/ not returning to places or engaging with people who may remind us of our trauma.

(As a legal team, it is our responsibility to educate folks about the ways stress and trauma can affect their ability to make clear and conscious decisions, ones they will be comfortable living with.)


Prior to attending actions, people need to think clearly about what level of risk they may be placing themselves in, or may end up facing, and whether they are prepared to deal with the possible consequences like being arrested and detained/ serving time/ having harsh and restrictive bail conditions imposed/ being verbally, psychologically, emotionally, physically or sexually assaulted, by the police or the process itself.

We should always attend actions with those whom we trust and are confident will work to protect us. Addressing our needs and abilities, as individuals/groups, and figuring out ways we can complement each other. Activists need to re-examine the ways we view ourselves, and how our view differs exponentially from that of the stateıs. De-mystifying our roles and perceived innocence, and recognizing that the state aims to immobilize our movement in every capacity. It is naïve to assume we wont be targeted if we are cheerleading or offering medical support or carrying puppets in a action. Establishing guidelines for ourselves in our interactions with the kops and the courts, figuring out which potential conditions we would be comfortable signing to get out of jail, before we risk arrest, and solidifying a surety ahead of time are all valuable preparations we can take, as we may not be emotionally fit to make difficult and life altering decisions while in custody.

(Thus as legal team, we have to arm folks with the information of common charges they may face, conditions and implications if convicted, during our trainings to help them prepare emotionally.)

Post traumatic stress and solidarity in jail: people need to recognize that the best decisions we can make, individually and as groups, are those that serve to protect our physical, sexual and mental health, this can be especially important in protecting vulnerable and high risk folk. The situations we may face as a result of incarceration can leave long term scars and will often require intense amounts of strength and energy to heal. Whether it be through humiliation, isolation, assault or worse the state and its agents aim to oppress and break our courage, dignity and determination. Many times, in our interactions with the police, we face damaging experiences. It is important to understand that we are not selling out to the cause if we sign out on conditions in order to be released as quickly as possible. In doing so, we may be preserving what little sanity we may have maintained throughout incarceration. The decisions we make for ourselves in our interactions with police do not necessarily reflect our commitment to struggle. Its important to remember that conditions can be fought latter and appealed, we must do what we feel comfortable with.

After the action/ release from custody/ in the course of long term incarceration

The role of allies supporters and legal teams:

·      people to be made available info regarding access to counseling and support services

·      legal teams to liaise with medical teams regarding crisis counseling and aftercare

After the action:

·      debrief the same day with affinity/posse/cadre/friends/buddy

·      what worked and didnıt in supporting each other

·      future actions/ ways to support each other better

·      what things we need, if any, like continuing support, counseling, immediate medical attention

·      the best way to evaluate an action is to debrief the night of and then engage in more structured feedback sessions 1-2 weeks later. This is one of the most helpful things folks can do to avoid depression and post traumatic stress syndrome

Release from Custody:

·      meet the person/people with food/clothes/ juice and transportation(if possible)

·      allies/friends/family to ensure person released receives immediate medical attention should they need it. Including documentation by nurses/doctors and sexual assault care centers.

·      legal teams to document peoples experiences, upon release, either for future civil action or for info necessary for court ( while still fresh in memory)

·      fill courtroom with supporters during bail/reviews or other appearances

·      plugging people in to prisoner solidarity networks/ Defense campaigns

Long term incarceration:

·      help take care of "loose ends" like pets, rent, care of children etcŠ

·      letter writing

·      visits to jail/prison/detention center

·      money for canteen

·      phone support / ensuring people have money to cover cost of collect calls

·       and everything else that goes with mounting defense campaigns/prisoner solidarity support movements


Materials: Background information

Time: 10 minutes


Part XI: Closure and Evaluation

Briefly review the workshop with participants and once again highlight the ideas of solidarity and making connections between actions and the everyday. 


Encourage participants to assert their rights and acknowledge the benefits of knowing how the legal system functions.


Ask if there are any further questions

Close with a popcorn round of strawberries and lemons (strawberries being things that participants enjoyed , or learned and lemons for areas of improvement in the workshop).


Refer back to the opening activity on needs assesment to ensure that all needs were met and if not which ones could be met through follow up discussions or resources.










































Consensus decision making


Consensus Decision Making (This information is available at

What is consensus?

Consensus is a process for group decision-making. It is a method by which an entire group of people can come to an agreement. The input and ideas of all participants are gathered and synthesized to arrive at a final decision acceptable to all. Through consensus, we are not only working to achieve better solutions, but also to promote the growth of community and trust.

Consensus vs. voting

Voting is a means by which we choose one alternative from several. Consensus, on the other hand, is a process of synthesizing many diverse elements together.

Voting is a win or lose model, in which people are more often concerned with the numbers it takes to "win" than with the issue itself. Voting does not take into account individual feelings or needs. In essence, it is a quantitative, rather than qualitative, method of decision-making.

With consensus people can and should work through differences and reach a mutually satisfactory position. It is possible for one person's insights or strongly held beliefs to sway the whole group. No ideas are lost, each member's input is valued as part of the solution.

A group committed to consensus may utilize other forms of decision making (individual, compromise, majority rules) when appropriate; however, a group that has adopted a consensus model will use that process for any item that brings up a lot of emotions, is something that concerns people's ethics, politics, morals or other areas where there is much investment.

What does consensus mean?

Consensus does not mean that everyone thinks that the decision made is necessarily the best one possible, or even that they are sure it will work. What it does mean is that in coming to that decision, no one felt that her/his position on the matter was misunderstood or that it wasn't given a proper hearing. Hopefully, everyone will think it is the best decision; this often happens because, when it works, collective intelligence does come up with better solutions than could individuals.

Consensus takes more time and member skill, but uses lots of resources before a decision is made, creates commitment to the decision and often facilitates creative decision. It gives everyone some experience with new processes of interaction and conflict resolution, which is basic but important skill-building. For consensus to be a positive experience, it is best if the group has 1) common values, 2) some skill in group process and conflict resolution, or a commitment to let these be facilitated, 3) commitment and responsibility to the group by its members and 4) sufficient time for everyone to participate in the process.

Forming the consensus proposals

During discussion a proposal for resolution is put forward. It is amended and modified through more discussion, or withdrawn if it seems to be a dead end. During this discussion period it is important to articulate differences clearly. It is the responsibility of those who are having trouble with a proposal to put forth alternative suggestions.

The fundamental right of consensus is for all people to be able to express themselves in their own words and of their own will. The fundamental responsibility of consensus is to assure others of their right to speak and be heard. Coercion and trade-offs are replaced with creative alternatives, and compromise with synthesis.

When a proposal seems to be well understood by everyone, and there are no new changes asked for, the facilitator(s) can ask if there are any objections or reservations to it. If there are no objections, there can be a call for consensus. If there are still no objections, then after a moment of silence you have your decision. Once consensus does appear to have been reached, it really helps to have someone repeat the decision to the group so everyone is clear on what has been decided.

Difficulties in reaching consensus

If a decision has been reached, or is on the verge of being reached that you cannot support, there are several ways to express your objections:

Non-support ("I don't see the need for this, but I'll go along.")

Reservations ('I think this may be a mistake but I can live with it.")

Standing aside ("I personally can't do this, but I won't stop others from doing it. ")

Blocking ("I cannot support this or allow the group to support this. It is immoral." If a final decision violates someone's fundamental moral values they are obligated to block consensus.)

Withdrawing from the group. Obviously, if many people express non-support or reservations or stand aside or leave the group, it may not be a viable decision even if no one directly blocks it. This is what is known as a "lukewarm" consensus and it is just as desirable as a lukewarm beer or a lukewarm bath.

If consensus is blocked and no new consensus can be reached, the group stays with whatever the previous decision was on the subject, or does nothing if that is applicable. Major philosophical or moral questions that will come up with each affinity group will have to be worked through as soon as the group forms.

Roles in a consensus meeting

There are several roles which, if filled, can help consensus decision making run smoothly. The facilitator(s) aids the group in defining decisions that need to be made, helps them through the stages of reaching an agreement, keeps the meeting moving, focuses discussion to the point-at hand; makes sure everyone has the opportunity to participate, and formulates and tests to see if consensus has been reached. Facilitators help to direct the process of the meeting, not its content. They never make decisions for the group. If a facilitator feels too emotionally involved in an issue or discussion and cannot remain neutral in behavior, if not in attitude, then s/he should ask someone to take over the task of facilitation for that agenda item.

A vibes-watcher is someone besides the facilitator who watches and comments on individual and group feelings and patterns of participation. Vibes-watchers need to be especially tuned in to the sexism of group dynamics.

A recorder can take notes on the meeting, especially of decisions made and means of implementation and a time-keeper keeps things going on schedule so that each agenda item can be covered in the time allotted for it (if discussion runs over the time for an item, the group may or may not decide to contract for more time to finish up).

Even though individuals take on these roles, all participants in a meeting should be aware of and involved in the issues, process, and feelings of the group, and should share their individual expertise in helping the group run smoothly and reach a decision. This is especially true when it comes to finding compromise agreements to seemingly contradictory positions.
































Anti-Oppression Principles


ANTI-OPPRESSION PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES  In order to build a world free from domination, we will use the following principles and practices in our lives and in our work.



1.              Power and privilege can play out in our group dynamics in destructive ways.  We must challenge supremacist practices which marginalize, exclude or de-humanize others.  Privilege, like power can be used for positive purposes but should be used with awareness and care.

2.              We can only identify how power and privilege play out when we are conscious and committed to understanding how white supremacy, patriarchy, classism, heterosexism and all other systems of oppression affect each one of us.  Each person who enjoys privileges granted by systems of prejudicial power  (no matter how radical or revolutionary) must recognize the benefits and costs of their privileges.  We must take responsibility for our prejudices and actions which perpetuate oppression.

3.              Until we are clearly committed to anti-oppression practice, all forms of oppression will continue to divide our movements and weaken our power.

4.              Developing anti-oppression practices is life-long work and requires a life-long commitment.  No single workshop is sufficient for learning to change oneıs behaviors.  We are all vulnerable to being oppressive and we need to continuously struggle with these issues and behaviors.

5.              Dialogue and discussion are necessary and we need to learn how to listen non-defensively and communicate respectfully if we are going to have effective anti-oppression practice.




Personal Practices

·      Challenge yourself to be honest and open and take risks to address racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia head on.

·      When you witness or experience an abuse of power or oppression interrupt the behavior and address it on the spot or later, either one on one, or with a few allies; this is about ways to address oppressive behavior that will encourage change.

·      Challenge the behavior not the person. Be sensitive and promote open dialogue.

·      Donıt generalize feelings, thoughts, behaviors, etc to a whole group.

·      Recognize the when someone offers criticism around oppressive behavior, to treat it as a gift that it is rather than challenging the person or invalidating their experience.  Give people the benefit of the doubt and donıt make assumptions.

·      Be willing to lose a friend but try not to ³thrown away² people who fuck up because you donıt want to be associated with them.  Help them admit what they did and help them take responsibility for making reparations for their behavior.

·      Challenge ³macho bravado² and ³rugged individualism² in yourself, your friends and in activism.

·      Take on the ³grunt² work of cooking, cleaning, set up, clean up, phone calls, e-mail, taking notes, doing support work, sending mailings.  Take active responsibility for initiating, volunteering for and following through with this work.

·      Understand that you will feel discomfort and pain as you face your part in oppression, and realize that this is a necessary part of the process of liberation and growth.   We must support each other and be gentle with each other in this process.

·      Donıt feel guilty, feel responsible.  Being part of the problem doesnıt mean you canıt be an active part of the solution.

·      Maintain these practices and contribute equal time and energy to building healthy relationships, both personal and political.


Organizational Practices

·      Commit time for organizational discussions on discrimination and oppression

·      Set anti-oppression goals and continually evaluate whether or not you are meeting them

·      Promote an anti-racist, anti-heterosexist, anti-transphobic, anti-ableist message and analysis in everything we do, in and outside of activist space

·      Remember these are complex issues and they need adequate time and space

·      Create opportunities for people to develop skills to communicate about oppression.

·       Promote egalitarian group development by prioritizing skill shares and being aware of who tends to do what work, who gets recognized/supported/solicited.

·      Respect different styles of leadership and communication

·      Donıt push historically marginalized people to do things because of their oppressed group (tokenism); base it on their work, experience, and skills

·      Make a collective commitment to hold people accountable for their behavior so that the organization can be a safe and nurturing place for all.


Meeting Practices

·      It is the role of the facilitator to ensure that the space safe and welcoming for everyone and the responsibility of each groups member to contribute to this.

·      Become a good listener

·      Donıt interrupt people who are speaking

·      Be conscious of how your use of language may perpetuate racism, sexism, homophobia or ageism

·      Try not to call people out because they are not speaking

·      Be conscious of how much space you take up or how much you speak in a group  Practice ³stepping up, stepping back² so we can each contribute to equal participation.

·      Be careful of not hogging the show, speaking on every subject, speaking in capital letters, restating what others say or speaking for others

·      Respect different views and opinions

·      Balance race, gender and age participation

·      People who havenıt yet spoken get priority

·      It is the groupıs responsibility to challenge racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic remarks.


Guidelines for use of the space and for meetings


We have also established the following guidelines for the use of the space and for meetings, which will cover anyone using the space for training, meetings, performances, making art or any other purpose:


Use of the Space


  1. This space / meeting is open to all people who abide by our principles and practices
  2. This space / meeting is not open to law enforcement officers
  3. This space / meeting is not open to the media without the consent of all participants.
  4. No violence or threats of violence (verbal or physical) will be tolerated.  Violence includes racist, sexist, homophobic, and any oppressive remarks/behaviors.
  5. Respect for the health and well-being of everyone in the space, and the space itself.  No actions or substances are allowed that would jeopardize this climate.
  6. Everyone is responsible to take part in maintaining the space.  Leave your workspace / meeting space cleaner than you found it.
  7. This space, and all activities in it, are non-sectarian and non-authoritarian. 


This document is compiled by Lisa Fithian  from the ³Anti-Racism Principles and Practices² by RiseUp DAN-LA,  Overcoming Masculine Oppression by Bill Moyers and the FEMMAFESTO by a womenıs affinity group in Philadelphia



























Glossary of Terms

 (This information was compiled by the Toronto Ontario Common Front Legal Collective)


Arrest: an arrest is a formal process in which specific words must be said by the officer (or citizen), and physical contact is made with the body. You will usually know when you are being arrested. If you are not sure, ask if you are free to go. If the officer says no, then assume you are under arrest.

Detention: a detention occurs where a representative of the state (e.g. police officer) exercises control over bodily movements by a demand or direction that may have significant legal consequences. Physical restraint is not required, since psychological compulsion or coercion can amount to a detention. A detention is less than an arrest, but in practice the distinction is not very relevant.

Bail: money which must be paid prior to your release from police custody. If you show up for your trial, the money will be returned.

Bail Hearing (a.k.a. as a "show cause" hearing): a hearing before a judge or justice of the peace, to determine whether you can be released from jail before your trial and with what conditions. This is supposed to happen within 24 hours of your arrest.

Crown: the lawyer representing the State in the case against an accused person (like a District Attorney in the US television shows). In theory their role is to find the truth - not to seek a conviction.

Detention: a detention occurs where a representative of the state (e.g. police officer) exercises control over bodily movements by a demand or direction that may have significant legal consequences. Physical restraint is not required, since psychological compulsion or coercion can amount to a detention. A detention is less than an arrest, but in practice the distinction is not very relevant.

Disclosure: All evidence in the control of the State must be provided to an accused person before a case can proceed to trial. This is called disclosure. Every accused person has a right to know the full case against them.

Hybrid offences: there are two kinds of offences in the Criminal Code: summary and indictable. Hybrid offences are those that can be tried either as indictable or as summary. The Crown has the choice. Until they choose, the offence is deemed to be indictable.

Indictable offence: there are two kinds of offences in the Criminal Code: summary and indictable. Indictable offences are the more serious offences with harsher penalties (it is like a felony offence in the US).

Reverse Onus: see "show cause"

Show Cause: at a show cause hearing (a.k.a. at bail hearing), the onus of proof can shift. Normally the Crown must "show cause" (prove) why you should not be released, or why certain conditions should be imposed. In some situations there is a "reverse onus" in which case the arrested person must "show cause" why they should be released from custody. A reverse onus applies to people who have been charged with some of the following:

·      an indictable offence while on release for another indictable offence

·      an indictable offence who are not normally residents of Canada

·      failure to comply with a condition of (previous) release

·      participating in a criminal organization

·      very serious charges such as murder and treason

Summary offences: there are two kinds of offences in the Criminal Code: summary and indictable. Summary offences are those which are less serious and carry lesser punishments (usually a maximum of 6 months to 18 months). A summary offence charge must be laid within 6 months of the alleged crime. See also Hybrid offences.

Surety: a person who knows you and agrees to take responsibility for ensuring you come to court for trial and abide by any conditions imposed. The surety may be required to promise to pay a specified amount of money if the conditions are not met or you do not show up for trial. In this situation they must show financial documentation that they have the specified amount of money.

Release on own Recognizance: release from custody on your assurance that you (the accused) will show up for court. Usually involves the signing of a ŒPromise to Appearı with few or no conditions.





Where was the Color in Seattle?: Looking fo reasons why the Great Battle was so white

by Elizabeth 'Betita' Martinez, special to ColorLines

This article was originally published in ColorLines (Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2000).

"I was at the jail where a lot of protesters were being held and a big crowd of people was chanting `This Is What Democracy Looks Like!' At first it sounded kind of nice. But then I thought: is this really what democracy looks like? Nobody here looks like me." --Jinee Kim, Bay Area youth organizer

In the vast acreage of published analysis about the splendid victory over the World Trade Organization last November 29-December 3, it is almost impossible to find anyone wondering why the 40-50,000 demonstrators were overwhelmingly Anglo. How can that be, when the WTO's main victims around the world are people of color? Understanding the reasons for the low level of color, and what can be learned from it, is absolutely crucial if we are to make Seattle's promise of a new, international movement against imperialist globalization come true.

Among those who did come for the WTO meeting were some highly informative third world panelists who spoke Monday, November 29 about the effects of WTO on health care and on the environment. They included activist-experts from Mexico, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ghana, and Pakistan. On Tuesday, at the huge rally on November 30 before the march, labor leaders from Mexico, the Caribbean, South Africa, Malaysia, India, and China spoke along with every major U.S. union leader (all white).

Rank-and-file U.S. workers of color also attended, from certain unions and locals in certain geographic areas. There were young African Americans in the building trades; blacks from Local 10 of the ILWU in San Francisco and Latinos from its Los Angeles local; Asian Americans from SEIU; Teamsters of color from eastern Washington state; members of the painters' union and the union of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (H.E.R.E.). Latino/a farmworkers from the UFW and PCUN (Pineros and Campesinos del Noroeste) of Oregon also attended. At one point a miner from the South Africa Labor Network cried, "In the words of Karl Marx, `Workers of the world, unite!'" The crowd of some 25,000 people cheered.

Among community activists of color, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) delegation led by Tom Goldtooth conducted an impressive program of events with Native peoples from all over the U.S. and the world. A 15-member multi-state delegation represented the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice based in Albuquerque, which embraces 84 organizations primarily of color in the U.S. and Mexico; their activities in Seattle were binational.

Many activist youth groups of color came from California, especially the Bay Area, where they have been working on such issues as Free Mumia, affirmative action, ethnic studies, and rightwing laws like the current Proposition 21 "youth crime" initiative. Seattle-based forces of color that participated actively included the Filipino Community Center and the international People's Assembly, which led a march on Tuesday despite being the only one denied a permit. The predominantly white Direct Action Network (DAN), a huge coalition, brought thousands to the protest. But Jia Ching Chen of the Bay Area's Third Eye Movement was the only young person of color involved in DAN's central planning.

Seattle's 27-year old Centro de la Raza organized a Latino contingent in the labor march and local university groups, including MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan), hooked up with visiting activists of color. Black activists who have been fighting for an African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in Seattle were there. Hop Hopkins, an AIDS activist in Seattle, also black, made constant personal efforts to draw in people of color.

Still, the overall turnout of color from the U.S. remained around five percent of the total. In personal interviews, activists from the Bay Area and the Southwest gave me several reasons for this. Some mentioned concern about the likelihood of brutal police repression. Other obstacles: lack of funds for the trip, inability to be absent from work during the week, and problems in finding child care.

Yet several experienced activists of color in the Bay Area who had even been offered full scholarships chose not to go. A major reason for not participating, and the reason given by many others, was lack of knowledge about the WTO. As one Filipina said, "I didn't see the political significance of it how the protest would be anti-imperialist. We didn't know anything about the WTO except that lots of people were going to the meeting." One of the few groups that did feel informed, and did participate, was the hip-hop group Company of Prophets. According to African American member Rashidi Omari of Oakland, this happened as a result of their attending teach-ins by predominantly white groups like Art and Revolution. Company of Prophets, rapping from a big white van, was in the front ranks of the 6 a.m. march that closed down the WTO on November 30.

The problem of unfamiliarity with the WTO was aggravated by the fact that black and Latino communities across the U.S. lack Internet access compared to many white communities. A July 1999 federal survey showed that among Americans earning $15,000-$35,000 a year, more than 32 percent of white families owned computers but only 19 percent of black and Latino families. In that same income range, only 9 percent of African American and Latino homes had Internet access compared to 27 percent of white families. So information about WTO and all the plans for Seattle did not reach many people of color.

Limited knowledge meant a failure to see how the WTO affected the daily lives of U.S. communities of color. "Activists of color felt they had more immediate issues," said Rashidi. "Also, when we returned people told me of being worried that family and peers would say they were neglecting their own communities, if they went to Seattle. They would be asked, `Why are you going? You should stay here and help your people.'"

Along with such concerns about linkage came the assumption that the protest would be overwhelmingly white as it was. Coumba Toure, a Bay Area activist originally from Mali, West Africa, said she had originally thought, "the whites will take care of the WTO, I don't need to go." Others were more openly apprehensive. For example, Carlos ("Los" for short) Windham of Company of Prophets told me, "I think even Bay Area activists of color who understood the linkage didn't want to go to a protest dominated by 50,000 white hippies."

People of color had reason to expect the protest to be white-dominated. Roberto Maestas, director of Seattle's Centro de la Raza, told me that in the massive local press coverage before the WTO meeting, not a single person of color appeared as a spokesperson for the opposition. "Day after day, you saw only white faces in the news. The publicity was a real deterrent to people of color. I think some of the unions or church groups should have had representatives of color, to encourage people of color to participate."

Four protesters of color from different Bay Area organizations talked about the "culture shock" they experienced when they first visited the "Convergence," the protest center set up by the Direct Action Network, a coalition of many organizations. Said one, "When we walked in, the room was filled with young whites calling themselves anarchists. There was a pungent smell, many had not showered. We just couldn't relate to the scene so our whole group left right away." "Another told me, "They sounded dogmatic and paranoid." "I just freaked and left," said another. "It wasn't just race, it was also culture, although race was key."

In retrospect, observed Van Jones of STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement) in the Bay Area, "We should have stayed. We didn't see that we had a lot to learn from them. And they had a lot of materials for making banners, signs, puppets." "Later I went back and talked to people," recalled Rashidi, "and they were discussing tactics, very smart. Those folks were really ready for action. It was limiting for people of color to let that one experience affect their whole picture of white activists." Jinee Kim, a Korean American with the Third Eye Movement in the Bay Area, also thought it was a mistake. "We realized we didn't know how to do a blockade. We had no gas masks. They made sure everybody had food and water, they took care of people. We could have learned from them."

Reflecting the more positive evaluation of white protesters in general, Richard Moore, coordinator of the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, told me "the white activists were very disciplined." "We sat down with whites, we didn't take the attitude that `we can't work with white folks,'" concluded Rashidi. "It was a liberating experience."

Few predominantly white groups in the Bay Area made a serious effort to get people of color to Seattle. Juliette Beck of Global Exchange worked hard with others to help people from developing (third world) countries to come. But for U.S. people of color, the main organizations that made a serious effort to do so were Just Act (Youth ACTion for Global JUSTice), formerly the Overseas Development Network, and Art and Revolution, which mostly helped artists. Many activists of color have mentioned Alli Chaggi-Starr of Art and Revolution, who not only helped people come but for the big march in Seattle she obtained a van with a sound system that was used by musicians and rappers.

In Just Act, Coumba Toure and two other members of color--Raj Jayadev and Malachi Larabee--pushed hard for support from the group. As a result, about 40 people of color were enabled to go thanks to special fundraising and whites staying at people's homes in Seattle so their hotel money could be used instead on plane tickets for people of color. Reflecting on the whole issue of working with whites, Coumba talked not only about pushing Just Act but also pushing people of color to apply for the help that became available.

One of the problems Coumba said she encountered in doing this was "a legacy of distrust of middle-class white activists that has emerged from experiences of `being used.' Or not having our issues taken seriously. Involving people of color must be done in a way that gives them real space. Whites must understand a whole new approach is needed that includes respect (if you go to people of color thinking you know more, it creates a barrier). Also, you cannot approach people simply in terms of numbers, like `let's give 2 scholarships.' People of color must be central to the project."

Jia Ching Chen recalled that once during the week of protest, in a jail holding cell, he was one of only two people of color among many Anglos. He tried to discuss with some of them the need to involve more activists of color and the importance of white support in this. "Some would say, `We want to diversify,' but didn't understand the dynamics of this." In other words, they didn't understand the kinds of problems described by Coumba Toure. "Other personal conversations were more productive," he said, "and some white people started to recognize why people of color could view the process of developing working relations with whites as oppressive."

Unfortunately the heritage of distrust was intensified by some of the AFL-CIO leadership of labor on the November 30 march. They chose to take a different route through downtown rather than marching with others to the Convention Center and helping to block the WTO. Also, on the march to downtown they reportedly had a conflict with the Third World People's Assembly contingent when they rudely told the people of color to move aside so they could be in the lead.

Yet if only a small number of people of color went to Seattle, all those with whom I spoke found the experience extraordinary. They spoke of being changed forever. "I saw the future." "I saw the possibility of people working together." They called the giant mobilization "a shot in the arm," if you had been feeling stagnant. "Being there was an incredible awakening." Naomi, a Filipina dancer and musician, recalled how "at first a lot of my group were tired, grumpy, wanting to go home. That really changed. One of the artists with us, who never considered herself a political activist, now wants to get involved back in Oakland. Seattle created a lot of strong bonds in my small community of coworkers and friends."

They seem to feel they had seen why, as the chant popularized by the Chicano/a students of MEChA goes, "Ain't no power like the power of the people, `Cause the power of the people don't stop!"

There must be effective follow-up and increased communication between people of color across the nation: grassroots organizers, activists, cultural workers, and educators. We need to build on the contacts made (or that need to be made) from Seattle. Even within the Bay Area, activists who could form working alliances still do not know of each other's existence.

With mass protests planned for April 16-17 in Washington, D.C. at the meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the opportunity to build on the WTO victory shines brightly. More than ever, we need to work on our ignorance about global issues with study groups, youth workshops, conferences. We need to draw specific links between WTO and our close-to-home struggles in communities of color, as has been emphasized by Raj Jayadev and Lisa Juachon in The Silicon Valley Reader: Localizing the Effects of the Global Economy, 1999, which they edited.

Many examples of how WTO has hurt poor people in third world countries were given during the protest. For example, a Pakistani told one panel how, for years, South Africans grew medicinal herbs to treat AIDS at very little cost. The WTO ruled that this was "unfair" competition with pharmaceutical companies seeking to sell their expensive AIDS medications. "People are dying because they cannot afford those products ," he said. A Filipino reported on indigenous farmers being compelled to use fertilizers containing poisonous chemicals in order to compete with cheap, imported potatoes. Ruined, they often left the land seeking survival elsewhere.

But there are many powerful examples right here in the U.S. For starters, consider:

·      WTO policies encourage sub-livable wages for youth of color everywhere including right here.

·      WTO policies encourage privatization of health care, education, welfare, and other crucial public services, as well as cutbacks in those services, so private industry can take them over and run them at a profit. This, along with sub-livable wages, leads to jeopardizing the lives of working-class people and criminalizing youth in particular.

·      Workers in Silicon Valley are being chemically poisoned by the chips they work on that make such wealth for others. WTO doesn't want to limit those profits with protection for workers.

·      WTO has said it is "unfair trade" to ban the import of gasoline in which certain cancer-causing chemicals have been used. This could have a devastating effect on people in the U.S., including those of color, who buy that gas.

·      Overall, WTO is controlled by U.S. corporations. It is secretly run by a few advanced industrialized countries for the benefit of the rich and aspiring rich. WTO serves to further impoverish the poor of all countries.

Armed with such knowledge, we can educate and organize people of color. As Jinee Kim said at a San Francisco report-back by youth of color, "We have to work with people who may not know the word `globalization' but they live globalization."

Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez is a Chicana activist and educator who has published six books on social movements and serves as co-chair of the Institute for Multi-Racial Justice. Her latest book is De Colores Means All of Us (South End Press).