Burning Spear News
How to conduct yourself in the face of police surveillance, Black Community Control of the Police
"Detroit Police Stop" by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=openverse.
From Friday September 2 through Sunday September 4, 2022, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) held its 30th annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri.
The theme of the convention was Defending the Black Community! We Are Our Own Liberators!
African People's Socialist Party (APSP) Southern Regional Rep. Kondji Mlimwengu moderated the capstone panel entitled “African Community Defense.” This panel included: Chairman Omali Yeshitela; Chimurenga Selembao, National Director of Organization for the APSP-USA; Alderman Jesse Todd of St. Louis’s 18th Ward; Dr. Aisha Fields, Director of the All African Peoples Development and Empowerment Project and Amanda Wallace, founder of Operation Stop CPS.
What follows is an edited transcription of NDO Chimurenga’s presentation.
The most important rule: remain silent
The most important thing about your encounters with a federal agent, particularly face-to-face, is not to talk to them—silence.
When I was a teenager, the FBI came to my mother's house and I thought I was very smart. “I'm going to trick them right now.” “I'm going to talk trash.” And, you know what? I probably gave them more intelligence through talking to them than they ever could have gotten—even in an interrogation.
There was no tricking them. These guys are trained to do that, that's what they're coming to your house: to get information.
Sometimes you're going to come hostile and sometimes you're going to talk nice and calm and try to trick them. All that is wrong.
If you're not being detained, you're not being arrested: close the door.
If they come with a warrant
Now in the case of [the July 29th FBI attack], they came with a search warrant, signed by a judge and several prosecutors.
What you have to do is read, look at it, examine it. You're probably going to find that it's going to have limits. The search warrant is going to be specific about where they can look and you should understand that. Another thing you need to do is continue to say, “I am not consenting to this search.” Make that extremely clear over and over again.
Again, check the paperwork.
In this particular attack, when they attacked the Chairman's house, they came at five in the morning and you know, they came at four in the morning to kill Fred Hampton.
So, one of the things you have to do is don't be intimidated; you have to be in control of yourself so you're not making a mistake. If you start talking you could possibly tell them something. That's not true. That's why you can't try to trick them.
Lying to a federal agent is a “crime.” You can actually create a crime for them by telling them something that's not true. By the way, I really believe that most of the information they come seeking, they already know.
I don't know how many of you have ever been approached by the police and the police say, “You shouldn't have nothing to hide if you didn't do nothing. So, tell me your side of the story.”
Your response should be: “I want a lawyer. That's my side of the story.” Silence is the issue?
Assume that the police are always listening
Sometimes the contact by the FBI is not face-to-face. You should assume that every phone you use is listening to you. And if somebody on the other side of the line is trying to say something that should not be said, hang up on them.
So we want to be real clear that [the police use] phone surveillance, text messages, social media, instant messaging. All these things, the police monitor. I know of a case in St. Petersburg, Florida, where somebody got arrested for having a toy gun in a video and they arrested him for having a weapon.
And you know how they found that? Because they saw the video on the internet. The police were monitoring his social media.
[When encountering the police] document everything you can: phone number, take photos if you can. If you are under a search warrant you might get a receipt for property but you want to make sure of everything that was taken. So, if they don't have a search warrant to go in the kitchen, say: “What are you doing in my kitchen? The search warrant says you go to the living room. Well, that's where you are going to stay.”
And remember to always say, “I'm not consenting to this search.”
[Chimurenga went on to state that the goal of any police encounter is to expedite the process. In most places, bicycles must follow the same traffic laws as automobiles. If you are stopped, accept the ticket and keep it moving].
Conduct yourself with discipline on social media
While [social media] is a great tool for organizing, it's also one of the most dangerous places to be. Every day, you can see people exposing themselves to security threats. They expose their location. They expose personal things about themselves: who they are in love with, who they hate, going back and forth in confrontations on the internet. No, no, no and double-no. Don't do it.You can't go through these social confrontations on social media because that's just as crazy as you having 5,000 friends on social media. I'm gonna let you in on a secret, those 5,000 people don't know you.
They are not your friends and 4999 are probably the police. So social media is a real problem. Don't expose your locations. You can set yourself up for a robbery or state intervention.
So we have to really be careful about these kinds of things.
In any confrontation, with both state and local police, we have to conduct ourselves in a way that we understand that we are dealing with an adversary, the enemy of African people.
Read African Resistance Now; listen to Black Power Talks
You can listen to a longer excerpt of this panel by visiting the Black Power Talks podcast at wubp.podbean.com or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Black Power Talks is produced by WBPU 96.3 FM “Black Power 96” in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is hosted by Dr. Matsemela Odom, Kondji Mlimwengu and Solyana Bekele bringing an African Internationalist perspective to the important issues of our world.
If you want to help us build Black Power Talks, or other aspects of InPDUM Information and Education, email us at [email protected].
Defend the Black Community!
Complete the Black Power Movement!
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(InPDUM) today: InPDUM.org