Rebel Steps
Rebel Steps
Jun 5, 2020
PSA: Jail Support Tips from CZN
Play • 4 min

Another PSA from CZN about how to support your comrades if they're arrested. Also check out our full episode on jail support at


With protests continuing in cities all over the world, the Channel Zero Network has some reminders on how to support those who have been arrested, and those who may be arrested in the coming days and weeks. 

Arrests are one tool cops use to repress mass movements. Arrest keeps protesters off the streets during demonstrations. They scare people with the threat of court cases and potential prison sentences. Alone, we feel defenseless against the police and the courts. By providing jail and court support, we can push back against this repression, from the moment that our comrades are taken in, to the end of their court case.

Before heading out into the streets, make sure you and everyone you're with has acontact number written on their body. You'll need to get in touch with someone if you're arrested and you most likely won't have your personal belongings with you. This number can be the National Lawyer's Guild, a group you're involved with, or just a friend who's not at the protest.

If you see someone getting arrested, call your legal support number with the arrestee's legal name and birthday. If you are in a large city, you may have to determine where they will be taken. Try to find the arresting officer's precinct or unit. This may determine where your comrade ends up. In smaller cities, everyone may go to the same place.

If you expect more arrests, try to stay and observe. If not, you should head to the precinct to wait for the arrestee.

Once at the precinct, use the legal name and birthday of the arrestee to ask the cops for the arrest number, charges, and where the arrestee will be taken or held. Keep anyone supporting you in the loop.

Be prepared to wait many hours. Keep in touch with others and take turns waiting outside the precinct. It could take hours, or in some cases, the whole night,especially if there's been a mass arrest.

From here, each city and state has different processes and different jargon. Connect with local organizers and read about local laws to learn what the process will be in your area. 

Here are some things that you might encounter. 

  • Sometimes arrestees are released quickly with a notice that they'll need to show up in court at a later date. If this happens, take the contact info of arrestees. You'll want to be ready to offer them court support in the future. 
  • Sometimes arrestees are charged before release. This is a longer process usually called arraignment, which is a procedural court hearing to file charges and set bail. The court will assign a public defender for arraignments. Try to have a couple offriends attend the arraignment for support. Due to COVID 19, you may only be able to observe via video.
  • Sometimes arrestees will have to post bail to be released. If bail is set, let the court officer know you’re arranging payment and will be coordinating with the arrestee’s lawyer. If you need support making bail connect with local organizers, there may be a bail fund for protestors in your area.
  • No matter what happens, always relay what's happening to other people offering support. 

Regardless of the legal situation the arrestee ends up in, you'll need to bring some things with you.

  • People who are getting out may be exhausted or have trouble getting home. So bring snacks, water, aspirin, bus fare or transit cards, and cigarettes. If you have a friend being held, you can bring their favorite snacks!  If you know the arrestee requires a specific medication, bring that too.
  • You'll also need water and snacks to sustain yourself! Bring External batteries for charging phones as you may be waiting for many hours. 
  • If you can't stay and help with jail support, dropping off materials to those waiting can be a big help.

Unfortunately, there is a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 while in an enclosed jail cell. Arrestees should consider self-quarantining and getting tested. 

For every street action and for every viral video of arrests, there are dozens of people outside the spotlight supporting the movement. Remember, it's not over until everyone's safely gotten out of prison and everyone's beaten their charges. 

Check out Rebel Steps' Jail Support episode at for more tips and resources. And follow Unicorn Riot and Channel Zero Network member It's Going Down for ongoing updates. The Channel Zero Network sends y'all solidarity. Stay safe out there and never stop fighting for a better world. 

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