Looking after you and your group
Well-being and preventing surprise legal action
While being involved in protest activity is vital for your communities, it can also be challenging and take a huge toll on your well-being and the well-being of your fellow activists.
Racism, patriarchy, trans-and queer-phobia, environmental destruction, classism, capitalism, abuses of state power, and other oppressions are enormous opponents to take on. When we work against these forces we can be met with the full weight of their power. This can make us feel powerless and disillusioned – and without proper support can lead to some people disengaging from activism or becoming burnt out.
It’s important that we look after ourselves and those who stand with us not only to protect individual health and well-being but also to safeguard the resilience and longevity of our campaigns.
Looking after ourselves includes understanding how police and the legal system can work to repress and oppress activism, how to deal with online hate, how to interact with the media, and how to avoid being sued for Publication of false and derogatory statements about another person, without any justification recognised by law. See also: slander, libel. More.
Police and the legal system
Too many activists are left traumatised by police action.
Too many activists end up in debt from legal costs.
Too many activists become isolated in long-running court actions when they are ‘abandoned’ by campaigns or activist groups.
We can learn from from groups in “Australia” and around the world on how to help activists, organisers and legal workers to better support activists.
There are many things we can do individually and collectively deal with the pressures in facing the police and the legal system.
Fear of the police
Fear of the police and legal system is one of the most effective social control systems that the government has.
When facing any sort of police or legal sanctions, activist campaigns and movements must develop ways to help activists overcome fear of police and the risk of charges, jail and violence.
Julia Hernandez, former director of Tutela Legal, a Catholic Legal Support office in El Salvador, asserts that that most critical factor enabling people to overcome fear is their solidarity with others in their organisations (Mahoney and Eguren, 1997).
Learning about our legal rights as well as tools and strategies to minimise harm from police (and other repressive arms of the state) can help manage fear and avoid long-term harm.