This is not legal advice. I am not an attorney. (I am definitely not your attorney.) Your mileage may vary.

Do not talk to cops. Do not give them any unnecessary advice or answer any unnecessary questions, even if they seem benign. Even if you think you aren’t doing anything wrong. Even if they seem nice. Even if they tell you that your friends already talked. Even if you just want to clarify, if only you could explain, if only you could make them understand. Even, even, even.

I’m telling you a joke: How can you tell when a cop is lying to you? They’re talking! We laugh, because it’s true. (Then we stop laughing, because it’s true.)

Do tell a cop who has arrested you before, who has a kind face, despite the fact that he has been trained to lie to you, despite the fact that you are not to speak to him, that you are pregnant so that, just in case, maybe he won’t drop you on your face while you’re in handcuffs.  Tell him this, and watch his face congratulate you. Tell him this—not to make conversation or to receive those congratulations. You say this, not for yourself. But for everything that stirs inside you, for everything in you that yearns for a future. When we say we are doing it for future generations, we mean it.

And then, after you and your friends have your arrest citations in hand, the cops thank you all for being so cooperative and professional. You and your friends will talk about this for years to come. How odd it was. How it may have restored your faith in humanity. (Just a little bit. Against your better judgment.) But ACAB, y’know. Because we haven’t gone soft and forgotten our history over one small kindness and act of dignity.

The window did not feel pain when it was shattered into a spider web, cracking under the pressure of a brick, which also did not feel pain. And yet, the cops will avenge these symbols more readily than they would a child’s life. They will ascribe pain and meaning and intention and fucking symbolism to it. They will make false equivalencies and fashion straw men and demand obedience. They will not come to save you. They cannot protect you because that is not how this country’s history fashioned them.

Do not talk to the cops because maybe one day it will take two of them to arrest you and if you are feeling cheeky, you might ask them whether it makes them feel like big strong men that it takes two of them to arrest one of you. You are 110 pounds soaking wet after a summer of lawbreaking recklessness and chopping wood. They are decidedly not. Do not talk to the cops because if you ask them whether it makes them feel like big strong men, they might (because they are big strong men) then dislocate your shoulder. Do not talk to the cops because range of motion is nice to have and because if you talk to the cops, it will hurt when it rains. (And because, my god, you think, aren’t I lucky, really. It could have been so much worse.)


Christy Tending is an activist, educator, writer, and mama living in Oakland, California. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Ms., The Everymom, Scary Mommy, The Mighty, and trampset, among others. You can learn more about her work at or follow her on Twitter @christytending.


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