NYC PLC Statement of Purpose

How to Handle the Heat - Basic Know Your Rights

On the Patriot Act

Some immigration Issues

Some local laws

Don't Mourn - Organize! - A How To Guide to Setting up a Legal Collective / Working Group

Another World is Possible Coalition
Anti-Capitalist Convergence-New York City

National Student Mobilization




| contact | help | who we are








 PLC’s got your back, make sure you got each other’s!

 Legal Number if You are  Busted:


For Legal Updates on people arrested:   


Note to the media: we provide legal support, 

we are not media spokes people. We will not talk

to the media except for Indymedia. Your calls are

interfering with us doing our job.

NYC People's Law Collective Statement of Purpose
Who We Are
What Do We Do
Our Principles

How To Handle The Heat -  Police Confrontations at Protests
The most important things to remember
When officers try to talk to us
If we are not free to go
If officers begin, or ask to search us
If we are under arrest
If cops are at the door
If they have a warrant
While in an automobile

Who We Are
  The New York People’s Law Collective is a collective of activists who are also, organizers, law students, community and legal workers. We are not lawyers. We are people with knowledge of the legal system, its value and limits, and how it can be used for and against us. History and our own experiences demonstrate the need for legal resources offered from a radical perspective. Used in this way, the law is one tool among many for our movements. 

What We Do
 The New York People’s Law Collective provides legal support, training, and education to people and groups engaged in radical action towards liberation and equality. We act as a radical presence in the legal community, provide jail support for activists that have put themselves in peril, facilitate popular education and training on rights and legal issues, and assist other communities in organizing legal collectives of their own. 

Our Principles 
  Our work if founded on the principles of liberation, solidarity and mutual aid, consensus process and critical use of the law. We are anarchist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-capitalist.  We are a part of the movements with which we work, not separate and detached. With these principles, we carry out our work of providing legal support, training, and education to people and groups engaged in radical action. 


Police Confrontations at Protests
Note: This material was prepared for the Summit of the Americas in Quebec. These suggested guidelines are also useful in Canada. See specific infromations about the border and Canada.

Law enforcement officers (cops) come in many different guises. They may be uniformed or plain clothes. They may be from local police departments, state police, or from federal agencies like the FBI or DEA. Our rights with all officers are the same regardless of what they are wearing or where they are from. 

We have a right to privacy and a right to be free from unreasonable intrusion by law enforcement into our lives. If officers confront us, we have the right to remain silent, the right to a lawyer, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches, stops and arrests. Our best choices to protect these rights depend on where we are when confronted by officers. We may be in private spaces, public spaces, or automobiles.

The most important things to remember are:
  •  You do not need to speak to cops.
  •  Be sure that you do not accidentally consent to any part of a search.
  •  If you are being questioned, asking for a lawyer will limit what they can use against you.
  •  Always use your judgment. Consider factors such as: de-escalation, protection of others and tactics. 
  •  Remember that rights do not always equal reality.

When officers try talk to us:
  • Do ask “Am I free to go?” 
  • Do not tell them anything else.
  • Do not believe that what they say to you must be true.
  • Do just walk away if they tell you that you are free to go (running at this point may give them a reason to pursue you)

Why: Talking with officers is risky. It is very easy to accidentally give them information they need to stop or arrest us or someone else. Officers do not have to tell us why they are speaking to us. They are allowed to lie to us and to trick us into giving them information. 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. 

If we are not free to go:
  • Do say “ I am going to remain silent, I would like to speak to a lawyer.”
  • Do not tell them anything else, except possibly your name.
  • Do remember that they are trained to catch people in lies and inconsistencies. (This could hurt you or someone else later)
  • Do notbelieve what they say.

Why: If you are not free to go, you are being detained. 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. Asking for a lawyer should keep them from using anything you say against you in court. It doesn't matter if you have a lawyer or actually want to see him or her. 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. 

If officers begin, or ask to search us:
  • Do say “I do not consent to this search” (they may continue anyways)
  • Do speak clearly so any witnesses can hear you say it.
  • Do nottry to physically stop them from searching you.

Why: If we are being detained, officers are allowed to frisk us. A frisk is a pat down on the outside of our clothes to search for weapons. Anything beyond a frisk is a search that requires either our consent or additional factors (warrants, bulging pockets etc) We should not consent to a search. This does not mean officers will respect your wishes, but it may mean that any evidence found could be kept out of a criminal proceeding against you. Trying to stop them from searching you will probably lead to arrest and additional charges.

If we are under arrest:
  • Do say: “I am going to remain silent, I would like to speak to a lawyer.”
  • Do repeat this mantra to any cop who asks you questions after your arrest.
  • Do notbelieve what they say. Cops are trained to lie.
  • Do nottalk to anyone other than your lawyer about the circumstances of arrest, even other prisoners, friends and family. 

Why: If we cannot afford a lawyer the courts must appoint one. Conversations with anyone who is not our lawyer or working for her or him may be used against us or someone else. If booking questions go beyond name, address and date of birth, ask for a lawyer to be present. If you ask for a lawyer to be present, they should stop questioning you. They are allowed to lie to you and often do. Having a reliable local address and ties to the community help us get little or no bail at arraignment (it helps to have a person they can call who can verify the name and address you give them). 
Remember that a "not guilty" plea can be changed later but a "guilty" plea cannot.

If cops are at the door:
  • Do ask if they have a warrant.
  • Do notlet them in without a warrant.
  • Do say “I do not consent to a search.”

If they have a warrant:
  • Do step outside and close the door behind you.
  • Do notlock the door behind you.
  • Dosay “I do not consent to a search”
  • Dospeak clearly so that others can hear you.

Note: If you actually interfere with them entering, you will probably not be able to stop them from entering and probably will be arrested.  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. If they can say that they believed you were stalling in order to destroy evidence, it gives them more power to search.

Why: Unless there is an emergency, cops need either a valid warrant or our consent to search or arrest us in our homes, offices or other places where we have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. 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 and part of the house to be searched), a date, and a judge’s signature. If a warrant is missing these things or it is based on flimsy or false facts, it may not be a valid warrant. Any time cops 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.  They may need different warrants or your consent to search different spaces in your house. If in doubt, don't consent and say so.

While in an automobile: 

If ordered by cops, the driver of a vehicle must stop, show identification, and answer routine questions (name, date of birth, and address). Cops may order the driver or passengers out of the vehicle and may frisk them to check for weapons.

Cops do not need a warrant to search your car, but they must have a reason to think that a car contains illegal things. (If they can see it or smell it, they can search) They may not need a warrant to look in the trunk or glove box, but they do need one to look through containers in cars such as bags, backpacks, and purses (unless you are under arrest). Anything cops see out in plain view in a car may give them a reason to arrest us or may be used against us later. If a vehicle is impounded, cops may look through everything left in the car including bags and containers. When in doubt don’t consent.


In general, the patriot has little impact on our work against the WEF during these protests. Terrorist related charges have yet to be laid in any but a few scattered cases, and the wire tapping and surveillance provisions only expand already existing powers. In any case, the same legal constitutional rights still remain to people resisting state or corporate oppression. However, some parts of the act are of note:

 An expanded definition of terrorism:

 "…acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws…if they "appear to be intended ... to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion," and if they "occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States." USA PATRIOT Act § 802, amending 18 U.S.C. § 2331.

 Immigration Provisions:

The Patriot Act allows for expanded powers for INS border officials to exclude (not allow in) any people suspected of involvement in or support for "terrorist activity". As well, it allows Aliens and immigrants picked up in the United States to be held for up to 7 days without an immigration charge or criminal charge being laid. Lastly, aliens can be certified as "Terrorists" under the above definition, or for supporting "Terrorist organizations" (either those on a list held by the A.G. or matching the above definition) and as such are liable for deportation.


 The Patriot Act allows for increased surveillance of activists, including the use of phone tap warrants attached to the person instead of the phone itself (so any phone that person uses can be tapped) and expanded ease in getting warrants. However, the same rules for security apply as before, don't discuss alleged illegal activity on the phone!


 The Patriot Act is primarily designed to scare resistance movements away from being active. If we allow ourselves to be divided it's primary targets will be Immigrant movements, poor people's movements, known movements like the anarchist movement, and People of color movements. It behooves us in this period to be more active, especially people coming from privilege, to show that we will not be intimidated! The only way to keep rights is to exercise them!

Immigration Law in Four Easy Sentences for the WEF:


1.     Do not speak to police officers about your immigration status (even if you are a citizen, it only isolates non-citizens). If they ask about it tell them you want to talk to your lawyer

2.     If you are picked up by the INS after being released from police custody, or on the streets, demand to talk to your lawyer and call the PLC, we will provide an immigration lawyer. Remember the INS is under no obligation to provide a lawyer for you (unlike criminal detention)

3.     If you are picked up by the INS, do not answer questions DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING! They often try to get people to sign voluntary deportation orders, which can bar you from re-entering the US for 5 years, 10 years or even life. Talk to a lawyer before signing anything.

4.     Remember Solidarity is the key and involves PROTECTING EACH OTHER. Let your affinity group know about your status beforehand and have a strategy worked out to protect undocumented and non-citizens, watch out for non-citizens in custody if you are arrested and have citizenship, do what you can and need to to protect them. Remember for citizens arrest means probably only a night in jail, for non-citizens and undocumented it can mean deportation to a possibly dangerous country.

A few remarks on local laws:


C      Sticks are illegal for signs by regulations, and can result in confiscation and arrest.

C      Megaphones are legally not allowed in marches, but often the cops let us use them nonetheless (you need a sound permit to use a megaphone here, and they say that they don't give out "moving sound permits"). However they have been used in the past as an excuse to arrest folks, especially targeted folks like Black blockers, people of color, etc.

C      Masks worn by groups of 4 or more are illegal. An old law was pulled out to get at the "Black Bloc" and the cops will often charge into a crowd to arrest folks wearing masks, even theatrical stuff.

C      Also be aware that it is illegal for cops to film or photograph protestors unless a crime is in progress.

Obligatory disclaimer: We are not lawyers, and thus cannot give out legal   advice. The information above is what the law says. For all legal questions   you need to contact a lawyer. We are working with lawyers for the WEF protests.

  (c) New York City's People's Law Collective. All content is free for sharing on the net and elsewhere.