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Know your rights when in the hands of the authorities

by Savanna Craig April 14, 2016
Know your rights when in the hands of the authorities

The CSU and QPIRG are coming together to teach students how to address the police and legal complications

The Concordia Student Union and Quebec Public Interest Research Group are collaborating to educate students and the community on how to properly react when dealing with authorities and to generate awareness for civilian rights.

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Gabriel Velasco, CSU external affairs and mobilization coordinator, said the CSU has teamed up with QPIRG to teach individuals what their rights are as civilians on the streets, in regards to prompts for identification by police, searches and seizures, arrests and advice for some of the most effective legal resources.

The event, titled Solidarity in the Street, will take place on Apr. 16 from 12:00 to 5:30 p.m. in room 767 in the Hall building.

“[Know your rights] events have always existed, but we wanted to try and make it a little bit more interactive … and have the classic 101 know your rights, but also practice some role-play,” said Velasco, out of breath—he had run to the CSU office from the Atwater Dollarama in order to buy fake police props for a more creative demonstration.

Velasco said the first role-playing demonstration would put participants in the situation of being stopped by a police officer. Participants will learn how to properly talk to the the officer to resolve the situation. “There’s all these scenarios, how do you react, but it’s more of a workshop format, so there’s going to be two people facilitating it and giving the information,” said Velasco.

He said one of the demonstrations would include one of the event organizers portraying an officer and asking a civilian for an ID. “In Canada there’s a law saying you don’t [have to give the cops your ID], you have the right to your own personal privacy when it comes to your identification until you get arrested.” Velasco said a lot of people are not aware of this, so they comply with police officers.

“A lot of times in that situation you’re really stressed, you don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “That’s where the second part comes in. The role-play aspect is to actually split up the group and practice some role-play exercises about what we just learned.”

Velasco said often he’s been in situations where the police have outright lied to civilians—such as telling civilians to provide ID or not allowing them to film the officers. He said in the last workshop the organizers will tackle how to contest tickets or file a formal complaint within the police system when confronted with harassment or police brutality.

“We’ll end it off with okay you got charged, you have tickets … how do you work inside the court system to contest those tickets, prepare your case, file complaints against the police, stuff like that.”


Solidarity in the Street will be held at Concordia’s Sir George Williams Campus in H-767 on Apr. 16 from 12:00 to 5:30 p.m.

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