Know Your Rights During COVID-19 so you can make your own decisions during police interactions.

Understand that white privilege, implicit bias, and racism create inequities in what happens when you exercise your rights. Know what your options are so you can exercise your rights and do so safely.

Remember:

  • Stay calm. The best time to challenge police abuse is afterwards. Remaining calm is a favor to yourself, not to the police. Don’t give the police an excuse to escalate the encounter.
  • Pay attention. Take detailed notes immediately after, and get names and numbers of witnesses.
  • Record the incident, if you can. You can hold your phone up, or have it recording in your pocket or hand.
  • Ask the police, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?”
  • Do not give consent for police to search you. Say “I don’t consent to searches.” They still might search you, but it makes a difference legally to say you don’t consent. 

Know Your Rights During COVID-19 – Masks

The law:
You must wear masks inside of businesses, on public transit, outdoors when you can’t consistently social distance, and to the extent possible in restaurants and bars.

If police approach you:

  1. Put a mask on, or briefly explain why you don’t have a mask on.
  2. If the encounter doesn’t end quickly, ask, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” If you’re not being detained, you can say, “Thank you, I’m going to walk away now,” and walk away.

Know Your Rights During COVID-19 – Gatherings of More than 10 People 

At home / the law:
Private gatherings of more than 10 people may be prohibited depending on local laws.

If police come to your home or yard:

  1. Say to the police, “I can’t let you in without a warrant.” If they have probable cause that there’s more than 10 people or a warrant, they may enter your home. 
  2. If the police ask you questions, you can say, “I can’t speak to you without my lawyer.” Guests can ask, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?”

In a park, business, church, etc. / the law:
Restaurants, bars, stores, outdoor recreation facilities, and religious facilities are reopening in different stages, but there are still restrictions that limit the number of people allowed. Check the state's COVID-19 page for the latest info.

If the police approach you:

  1. Offer to leave or ask, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” If you’re not being detained, say “Thank you, I’m going to walk away now,” and walk away.

Know Your Rights During COVID-19 – Social Distancing

The law:
Social distancing (staying six feet from anyone you don’t live with) is required inside of businesses and in outdoor public spaces.

If the police approach you: 

  1. Offer to move or leave.
  2. If the encounter doesn’t end quickly, ask, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” If you’re not being detained, say “Thank you, I’m going to walk away now,” and walk away.