This week, two FBI agents visited the home of a University of California Los Angeles student and asked them questions about their student activism for Palestinian rights.
This is not the first FBI encounter reported to our office. However, the line of questioning reflects intensifying efforts to criminalize protected political speech and human rights advocacy. State surveillance of social justice movements is not new; it has been used to intimidate activists both historically and in the current climate.
Be prepared to handle an FBI visit.
If an agent knocks on your door:
- Do not answer any questions. You have a constitutional right to remain silent, and you should exercise it.
- Do not let them in your house/apt. Step outside and close the door behind you. Or talk to them through the door (preferable). Only give them permission to enter if they show you a warrant signed by a judge that accurately lists your address and apartment number.
- Say, "Please leave your business card, my lawyer will call you." Repeat it over and over and over again, no matter how nice they are. Do not say anything else. You do not have to inform them who your lawyer is.
- Do not answer any questions. If it makes sense for you to do an interview, your (free) lawyer will help you with that!
- Never lie, about anything. Even a white lie, or a harmless lie. It can be a crime to lie to an agent.
- Share this with your roommates, parents, and any others who might open the door on your behalf, and make sure they understand what to do.
- Do not answer any questions.
- If you or your roommate mistakenly lets an agent in or starts speaking with them, end the conversation and tell them you have nothing more to say, that your lawyer will contact them, and that you’d like them to leave (unless they present a warrant).
- Get in touch with Palestine Legal as soon as possible.
The best response is to react with confidence that you know your rights, not panic.
For more info, check out these resources:
If an Agent Knocks, Center for Constitutional Rights
You Have the Right to Remain Silent, Know Your Rights Guide, National Lawyers Guild