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Researching the Right for Progressive Changemakers
Civil Liberties
Security for Activists
Overcoming Repression

Political dissidents have always been the target of government repression and corporate surveillance. It is important to take these attacks seriously and object to them.

At the same time it is important not to allow fear-mongers to scare you away from political participation. Stories about vast conspiracies and elaborate surveillance technologies can create an atmosphere that discourages activism.

This is what the opposition wants. On this page you will find sensible and reliable information about safety and security for political activists.

Be Prepared - A Guide to Political Rights

You Have the Right to Remain Silent:
A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters

National Lawyers Guild

The NLG also has know your rights pamphlets that were produced in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union in 2004. These are available for download in several languages in printable PDF format. These brochures are designed to print on a legal size (8 1/2 x 14) sheet of paper. Click here for Spanish (updated 2006), Chinese, Arabic – page 1/Arabic – Page 2, Farsi, or Punjabi.

National Lawyers Guild
National office: http://www.nlg.org

Understanding and Resisting Political Repression

Some Images and Some Advice to Help You Visualize Resisting Repression.

War at Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It, by Brian Glick, South End Press. Now available online in PDF format.

Encountering and Countering Political Repression by Chip Berlet

Common Sense Security by Sheila O'Donnell. Basic tips to make security consciousness part of your group's activist mentality without diverting you from your goals. From the old Public Eye Network.

Demonizing Dissent by Kit Gage

What to Do About Bugs, Taps, And Infiltrators by Linda Lotz. An oldie but a classic goodie.

This is an older version of Know Your Rights above: If an Agent Knocks by Center for Constitutional Rights (revised)


Waging War on Dissent: Loss of Democratic Rights During the Seattle WTO Ministerial See also this statement.

Out of Control: Seattle's Flawed Response to Protests Against the World Trade Organization an ACLU Report

The Watchers Multinationals Take Aim at Protesters. By Bill Berkowitz. In These Times, December 25, 2000.

Partnership for Civil Justice: Washington, D.C. Rights Information Center - Updates

Further Reading

Reading List on Intelligence Agencies and Political Repression.
This is the reading list developed by Linda Lotz and Chip Berlet for serious researchers and activists who wanted to deepen their knowledge of political repression at home and abroad.

Reading List on Security Studies by and for Social Movement Organizations

The reading list below is composed of selected books or reports that are written in a way that is both accessible and useful for those doing security or anti-repression work for social movement organizations.


Serge, Victor. [1926] 1979. What Everyone Should Know About State Repression. London: New Park Publications.

Huberman, Leo. 1937. The Labor Spy Racket. New York: Modern Age Books.

The Public Eye collective. 1978. "COINTELPRO, What the Deleted Was It?" The Public Eye magazine, "Special Issue," edited by Harvey Kahn, with articles by Harvey Kahn, Sheila O'Donnell, Noam Chomsky, Mark Ryter, Chip Berlet. Tim Butz, and William Steiner; April.

American Friends Service Committee. 1979. The Police Threat to Political Liberty. Philadelphia: By the author.

Donner, Frank J. 1980. The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America’s Political Intelligence System. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Lawrence, Ken. 1985. The New State Repression. Chicago: International Network Against New State Repression.

Churchill, Ward, and Jim Vander Wall. 1988. Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Boston: South End Press.

Churchill, Ward, and Jim Vander Wall. 1989. The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars against Domestic Dissent. Boston: South End Press.

Glick, Brian. 1989. War at Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It. Boston: South End Press.

Herman, Edward and Gerry O'Sullivan. 1989. The "Terrorism" Industry: The Experts and Institutions T hat Shape Our View of Terror . New York: Pantheon.

Donner, Frank J. 1990. Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gelbspan, Ross. 1991. Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement. Boston: South End Press.

Berlet, Chip & Matthew N. Lyons. 1998. Repression and Ideology: How Police Justify Labelling Demonstrators as "Terrorists. Originally published as “One Key to Litigating Against Government Prosecution of Dissidents: Understanding the Underlying Assumptions.” Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Report, in two parts, Vol. 5, No. 13, January-February Vol. 5, No. 14, March­April, West Group.

Chang, Nancy. 2002. Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti-Terrorism Measures Threaten Our Civil Liberties. New York: Seven Stories.

Fernandez, Luis A. 2008. Policing Dissent: Social Control and the Anti-Globalization Movement. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Visit www.policingdissent.info

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