How To Protest In New York City

First of all, recognize that you are going up against the NYPD.

The NYPD mainly doesn’t live in New York City. They come from Long Island. They hate New York City. And they basically act like any occupying army does. And they hate protests. Although a protest can generate overtime, it keeps them away from their families and upsets their schedules. You are not a “duty calls” emergency. You are an annoyance. So they have even more reason to hate your ass.

Second, protesters cannot carry signs on solid poles. The poles have to be light plastic or cardboard tubing. This is because the NYPD is afraid of having its head bashed in when people object to its illegal and abusive behavior.

Third, the NYPD will videotape you. They claim this is for their protection, for training purposes, for procedural purposes, for evidence in court, for any plausible bullshit they can throw before a court of law (just don’t count on that tape surfacing if it’s evidence in your favor).

That does not mean the NYPD will allow you to tape or photograph them. Stop thinking you’re in a free country when confronting the NYPD. You’re in a police state, period. They don’t give a shit if your cause is righteous or not. Frankly, anything that’s not pro-NYPD is ipso facto illegitimate and worthy of suppression. They’d go after Jesus Christ and his Apostles. In fact, they did, when they were Roman PD.

What the NYPD will not tell you about is facial recognition software. That’s another reason why they tape. But don’t ever expect an admission on that count. Or that tapes will be shared with the Department of Homeland Security (and all subsidiary agencies). Don’t be surprised if in some future encounter with law enforcement your face pops up with a neat already-assembled dossier of other protest actions you’ve been involved in. Hey, they taped you in public. If you didn’t want to be seen, why be in the protest to begin with?

This is also why there is a no-mask policy for New York City protest. You think some judge dreamt that up or decided it? That’s pure NYPD.

What can’t the NYPD prevent?

Sunglasses. The sun hurts your eyes. You have sore eyes that day. You like to look fashionable. Everyone else was doing it and you wanted to fit in. Let the NYPD go to a judge and make a case against them. Let NYPD try to outlaw sunglasses. It will never happen.

Face-painting. Let them try to take that to a judge and claim it’s a mask, especially if the face painting doesn’t cover the entire face and is made of silly things, like cartoons or even flowers. Note that if the protest is to span several days, the face painting should be changed every day. In fact, it’d be best to change it every few hours. Don’t let the NYPD have the ability to single you out as “the daisy face.” It might be better to use stickers on the face, which can be easily swapped out instead of requiring a wash-off or rub-off.

Hats. Especially hats with brims. A simple what-looks-like-a-nod of the head to indicate compliance to NYPD can frustrate their taping of faces. Hats, like face painting, should also be swapped daily or every few hours. They can’t prove one person wore the same hat for the entire day when there will be witnesses testifying there was always a plan to swap hats.

Fake moustaches. Amish-type or goatee-like fake whiskers. Caricaturish unibrows. Are any of those a mask? Let a judge decide — when he’s through laughing.

A huge mistake Occupy Wall Street made was in not understanding the NYPD, the NYC protest rules (no loudspeakers or any electrically-amplified sound), and even NYC-native names for things. Zucotti Park? I’m a native New Yorker. I didn’t know what the hell any of you were talking about! Had you said Liberty Plaza — which is what we in New York City still call it! — I would have known exactly where you had camped out.

And as for camping out — are you serious? All of you in one spot that NYPD can swoop down on? Are you insane? You should have broken into groups to pre-arranged areas that had been scoped out way ahead of time. This is called planning. Was any done? Let NYPD have to spread themselves out hunting you down!

Why didn’t every single one of you have video cameras? Did you see how NYPD swarms someone for a takedown? That’s not just a matter of force. It’s to prevent a clear view of what’s happening and to prevent identification of the officers involved. If everyone is taping, there’s a good chance of getting a total picture of what actually happened and who exactly did it.

And if they want to confiscate someone’s camera? At least there’d be plenty more they wouldn’t get. And if they tried to confiscate all of them? Well, this is where there should have been planning. There should have been designated runners. People willing to resist such an NYPD demand who would run away like they’re on fire with a camera or several cameras. Hey, they’re not resisting or evading arrest — no call for arrest was made! And NYPD do not like to run. They carry a shitload of equipment on their belts and body that they can’t afford to lose. Your court defense? You were carrying evidence you did not trust the NYPD would preserve.

Finally, the first thing that should have been done was a coordinated effort to photograph the faces, shield numbers, and nametags of every NYPD member in the vicinity. It looked to me like several NYPD had black ribbon covering their shield numbers. That is supposed to be against public policy. The NYPD was given shit in the press for doing that at least once before. They can claim they had the wrong nametag on (yes, judges will believe that!), but having the incorrect badge on? No judge would ever buy that, which is why shield numbers are crucial for identification.

Should there ever be a sequel to Occupy Wall Street — because I don’t believe this unplanned one can last — I hope these tips are helpful.

And if the NYPD doesn’t like this post, they should consult something called the Constitution of the United States of America. Something they are supposed to uphold. See the section under freedom of the press and free speech.

And, no, I’m not afraid:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

All you can do is kill me.

Then face the God you allegedly believe in at the end.


How to camouflage yourself from facial recognition technology


Filed under Police Abuse, Protest

21 responses to “How To Protest In New York City

  1. Artístikem

    Well done, lots of great tips there.
    Takes me back to when our university was on strike. The kids were shown how to run away, which was spreading all over campus and nearby roads instead of running all together. There were lots with painted faces and, of course, everyone was wearing hats and sunglasses because a picket line under a 100 degrees F sun isn’t a day in the park. All through the strike protesters were given civil disobedience courses for when the police came to disperse them everybody knew what to do. Also, in case pepper spray was used, there were designated people carrying vinegar bottles, paper towels and a formula (the components escape my mind) that represses the effects of the spray.
    All of this acts need to be planned and sketched out ahead of time to prevent any sad events, other than the gorillas with badges that come to tear them apart.

  2. another useful tool: The GhandiCam Project, a distributed application for streaming upload of video, audio and pictures from a phone for the purposes of civil liberties:

  3. yeah, but these guys are more into peace. The police are just working for the man – so, don’t bug him because the man will get mad. Without masks, clubs, vandalizing, signs, chanting – I think this will work.

  4. This is all truth. I think a lot of people didn’t expect this much police resistence. I, of course, expected more. I’ve not seen any riot squads, yet… However, it’s not too late. Burnt wine corks can black your face. Use it on nose, cheeks, eyebrows and chin. This should be enough to disrupt facial recognition by causing a visual reduction in the height of key features of your face. Those who are interested, find likeminded individuals and start a tactical resistance task force. Collect information and ideas and disimminate them. Don’t wait for a vote. Don’t do the human megaphone. Face to face, individual communication. Try to keep it legal. Finally, Document, document document. There are thousands of dollars pouring into Freedom plaza in pizza and what not. Get out there, put the call out for cameras, and start a wepay. If you can inact the steps outlined in this blog, you can put the police on their heels and keep them there. Get names and badgenumbers for key officers and get constant monitoring on him. File a complaint for every sneeze and fart. (One specific officer comes to mind here. He’s in almost every photo and video coming out of there.) We beleive in you.

  5. Amazing article.
    I’m Italian, but i can tell you that your words and your way of thinking made me happy and “proud” that there is someone like you in this world.
    Thanks, L.

  6. Ya! Just remember what happened to the protesters in the 2004 GOP protests. They had a whole pier set up in the west side to kidnap them to. If the crowds get past 2,000 get ready for that or worse.

  7. JC

    Interesting, that it’s come to this but then look what the economy has come to. Do you think the Wall Street Brokers Association is going to protest this protest? They feel they have to right to rape America in cahoots with bankers so they are, in their minds, above reproach. Protest with your funds by NOT investing, withdraw and close your accounts, shift over to tangible goods and buy your investments locally. Quit contributing to the “Machine” that holds us in such disregard that we are merely pawns in their struggle to bank profits off our hard working backs! Choke off the pipeline and then watch the humbling we seek come about…

  8. Mike,

    Thank you for your constructive criticism. I’m not sure where you’re located, but it sounds like it’s close to Manhattan. The direct action working group could really use your input from your blog and also your personal opinions on plans for the future. Despite seeming “unplanned”, we have a pretty decent structure developing, and could use working minds like yourself to help facilitate the process. Just a friendly request from someone who’s been there since the beginning of the occupation.

    • mikecane

      It was ill-timed. All they have to do is wait all of you out. Winter weather will break it. None of you can survive outdoors in sub-zero weather or under snow. And they will force you to leave because they dragoon the homeless in such weather to prevent their deaths. The winter shelter law will end it.

  9. CB

    You’re an idiot. The no mask, and no solid poles is NOT police policy, its the NYS Penal Law. We don’t make the laws, we enforce them. Call your congressman to get that law changed. I guess you wouldn’t know that because you obviously never took a civics course. Wait us out – we get overtime for being there with you cretins. There’s a fine line between anarchy and civility – we hold that line or civility. Cross that line and I hope you get your head busted wide open. Now, go get a job!

    • Mr. Spiffy

      Dear CB:

      You are misinformed – the United States Congress cannot change the New York State Penal Law. Not even a law approved by Congress and signed by the President of the United States (or approved by 2/3 of Congress to over-ride a Presidential veto) will change the New York State Penal Law. A federal Judge might invalidate a state law if it is ruled unconstitutional, but access to federal courts is restricted to actual “cases or controversies.”

      Please practice some civility in responding to others posts. Thank you.

      yours truly,

      Mr. Spiffy

  10. There are rules and regulations governing protests and demonstrations in NYC. For example, here are rules for demonstrations in NYCC Parks.
    Did anyone talk to anyone in NYC government about using Washington Square on Saturday.

    I have always believed in civil disobedience, but fucking up Manhattan traffic does not necessarily constitute effective civil disobedience. Making the police our enemies is one of the reason the 60s protests ultimately failed. As the heroic civil rights protesters taught us, civil disobedience is deliberately breaking unjust laws and accepting the consequences.

  11. asdf

    “I don’t believe this unplanned one can last”


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