You’ve got to know the territory

If you are thinking about committing non-violent civil disobedience, or exercising your constitutional rights to free speech and expression of ideas, manifesting your dissent, participating in a peaceful protest in which you might be arrested..


Know where you are. Every town in every county in every state of the U.S. may have its own rules and practices. Do NOT assume that the same thing will happen to you in Austin or Brownsville, Texas, as happened to a friend in Brooklyn or Milwaukee or New Bedford, Massachusetts – or vice versa. If you’re asking for advice about possible consequences in criminal courts in your area, make sure you are talking to someone with experience in the particular place you may be planning an action. Activists who work nationally have a great deal of experience and perspective to offer, but Texas is different than many other places, and Travis County is different in many ways from the rest of Texas. There’s a big difference between court costs of $106.00 and community service of 20 hours, and court costs and probation fees of $1250 and community service totaling 75 hours. Know where you are and which penalties are typical in your area.

See also:

Know yourself
Know your colleagues
The things you carry

Return to: Thinking about civil disobedience?