What are your rights in front of the police? How do we handle our relationship with them?

First thing first

Police officers are citizens like you and me. We want them to love us. They also have lives, they also have children and they also want to provide the best for their family. Let's never forget that.

They have to do their job. And we need to respect that. But we also need to do our job as citizens. And it is our duty to break the law in a non violent way to declare the state of climate emergency and force our society to act like it is an emergency, because it is.

If you are joining an XR action, please know your rights and please be respectful of fellow citizens in uniforms. Did we say we were a non violent movement?

We tell the police what we are going to do

We have nothing to hide. Our goal is to get arrested anyway. So we tell in advance the police of our actions. The goal is to create a dilemma: either they let us do those actions and everything will happen smoothly (did we say that we are a non violent movement and that we don't destroy anything?), OR they stop us from doing our action and they arrest us which will create more publicity for the movement (why are they arresting those non violent people who get out of their way to defend the living?).

We can film the police

“The law does not forbid taking pictures or recording videos a police action in the public space” - RTBF (in French)

  • We can film police actions

  • They can't force us to delete any image/video we took

  • We can publish pictures without blurring the face of police officers


In case of arrest

See the legal briefing by our friends at RiseUp (FR, NL), TLDR:

  • Always have your ID card with you. Only police officers can request it (not security guards)

  • Don't actively rebel against police officers. Let them arrest you. You can lay on the ground and not be cooperative, but don't resist. Remain non violent at all cost.

  • Most arrests are administrative for max 12 hours. You won't get a criminal record ("casier judiciaire") for it but you could get an administrative fine for up to €350.

  • Judicial arrests are for up to 48h

  • Keep track of the time of your arrest

  • You will have to surrender all your belongings. You will be able to get them back when released.

  • Right for information: the police has to inform you on your situation in your language

  • Don't talk. They may try to get information out of you. You have the right to keep silence (and really you should)

  • You can ask for a trusted person to be notified of your arrest (they will do it for you, you won't be able to talk directly to them)

  • They have to give you water and food during your arrest and access to toilets.

  • Don't sign. They will give you the minutes of the audition for you to sign. You don't have to, so much better not to.

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