Are you confident in asserting your rights when dealing with police? Do you know when an officer has the right to search you? Are you prepared to respond to an officer’s questions with a respectful “I choose to remain silent?”
With that in mind, I have teamed up with State Senator Heather Steans and State Representative Kelly Cassidy to offer a “Know Your Rights” Workshop to train people on their basic rights when dealing with law enforcement. The workshop will be held this Sunday, April 3rd, 2:00 p.m. at the Rogers Park Presbyterian Church, 7059 N. Greenview (doors open at 1:30 p.m.).
Representatives from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, ONE Northside, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, and the Cook County Public Defender’s office will provide basic knowledge about street-level police interactions, including when you have the right to refuse to speak with police, how to refuse a search, and how to respond if you feel your rights have been violated.
These workshops will not only empower those who attend, but will also help our law enforcement officers do their jobs better. The vast majority of officers act within constitutional guidelines, but sadly a few officers may take advantage of those who are ignorant of their rights, often through subtle, not overt, means.
For example, rather than asking explicitly, “Do I have permission to search your bag?” an officer might say, “Let me look in your bag” while reaching for an individual’s backpack. In this scenario, having the confidence to say “I do not consent to a search, Officer” puts the officer on notice that this person understands their rights and will often result in the officer changing his or her entire approach to the person during the encounter.
I hope you are able to take advantage of this informative workshop.