NPR has a piece up about the advice given by lawyer Eric Broyles to black men stopped by police: “comply now, contest later.” This advice is the distilled, one-liner version of the more detailed advice given in Broyles’ and his police officer friend Adrian Jackson’s book Encounters with Police: A Black Man’s Guide to Survival. From the NPR story:
That means that, even in moments of frustration, when the stopped citizen feels unfairly treated, Broyles recommends complying with the police officer’s request. Only once the encounter has concluded does he recommend filing a complaint and contesting the officer’s actions during the stop.
It’s the sad, but real, state of affairs in America today. I tell this to clients all the time (it applies equally to people of all races, actually). You may be right, but pissing off a police officer – even one who you feel is squarely in the wrong – is rarely going to go well for you. At best you’re probably going to get more charges tacked on you than you would’ve if you would’ve been polite. At worst (as is painstakingly clear from so many recent police-on-black-male violence these days) you could end up dead. In the moment you don’t know if you have a well-meaning officer or not. Don’t take any chances. Yes it’s frustrating that you hear stories about armed white citizens acting provocatively and getting off without so much as a slap on the wrist… but what’s better, to be right, or to be dead?