10 Rules for Hosting a Great Know-Your-Rights Event
So you’ve seen 10 Rules for Dealing with Police or BUSTED: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters on the Internet or at an event. Now you want to share it with your community. This guide will give you the tools you need to host an unforgettable know-your-rights event.
Rule #1: Get Access to the Videos
You do not need to obtain special permission from us to screen Flex Your Rights movies for educational purposes. Nor do we require you to pay a licensing fee. All Flex Your Rights materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. So if you don’t charge admission, you’re welcome to screen our videos for as many people as possible.
Rule #2: Find a Suitable Venue
Any space with a screen and a projector falls into the category of “venue.” But if you have options, try to pick one that is most easily accessible to the people who you want to attend.
When thinking about the venue’s size, don’t immediately pick the largest option available.
In our experience, a small but packed room offers a far better experience than a 200-seat lecture hall with a dozen or so attendees sitting shouting-distance apart from each other. With few exceptions, the cozier option is usually the best option.
Rule #3: Carefully Pick a Date
This might seem obvious, but people frequently overlook it. So be sure to choose one that doesn’t interfere with important dates or holidays.
Rule #4: Get a Criminal Defense Attorney for Q&A
In our experience, local criminal defense attorneys are the people best equipped to handle the “can-they-do-that?” questions attendees are certain to ask. To find an attorney who might be interested in helping, click here. Find the closest one, then call to invite them to the event.
Here’s how the attorney call might go down…
Attorney: Hello. This is [Attorney].
You: Hi [Attorney’s Name], my name is [Your Name], I’m a [student/activist/taxidermist] from [Wherever], I’m hosting a know-your-rights event featuring a 40-minute screening of the film, 10 Rules for Dealing with Police on [date of event]. After the screening, I’m sure the audience will have lots of questions you could answer. Would you consider speaking at the event?
Attorney: Hmm… let me check my schedule. Okay. I can do it.
Be sure to get the attorney’s email and cell phone, and ask them to bring business cards. After the call, send an email confirming the event’s time, date, and location. If the first attorney says no, try the next-closest one. You shouldn’t have to try too many before one agrees to help.
Rule #5: Heck, Get a Cop Too
If you really want to make it an event to remember, you might also consider inviting the local police to send someone too. The combination of a cop and lawyer on the bill will help create some buzz.
If your local police aren’t helpful, you might consider inviting a local speaker from Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP). These cops understand heavy-handed drug war policing that violates peoples rights. In fact, they were the ones doing it!
Rules #6: Create Fabulous Fliers
The design is up to you. But I can say is that all-text fliers are boring, so I recommend featuring a striking or funny image with the basic info text. Then secure the fliers in places where lots of people will see them.
Rule #7: Use New & Old Media to Generate Buzz
Technically, a flier is a piece of media. But you should also consider using high-tech stuff, especially if it’s free. This means you’ll want to create a Facebook event, alert your friends via Twitter, SMS, etc.
As for you kids who prefer text to talk – if you want more people to attend your event, ask them with your larynx… on vibrate. Seriously, the best way to convince someone to attend your event is to ask them personally. This means also calling all of your contacts one-at-a-time starting with Aaron Aardvark all the way to Zoey Zygote. And if there’s no answer, you should leave a [gasp!] voice message with the info. But if you don’t have anyone’s phone number, sending personalized IMs is cool too.
In addition to the internet media, you’ll want to use a press advisory that you can email to local print, radio and TV reporters.
Rule #8: Beware of PCs/Macs/software updates/Malware/cables (AKA: Nothing Works)
On the day of the event, be sure to get to the location at least one hour early to set up. When the audio or video doesn’t work, this tends to be the usual amount of time it takes to bribe the college AV guy to help diagnose the problem, install new programs, and to fetch a required bifurcated-coaxil-adapter-dongle.
Trust me, I’ve sat through a 100-person screening where the audio came through a laptop speaker. You can avoid this embarrassment by arriving early and being prepared.
Rule #9: Follow-up
Be sure to thank people who helped make your event a success. If you were raised right, you’ll send written thank-you letters. If you weren’t, sincere thank-you emails will suffice. Also be sure to thank any reporters who cover your event. And, of course, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share any media you may have earned. We like to collect evidence of our usefulness.
Rule #10: Repeat
Screen it again next semester or next year. You’ll be impressed by how 10 Rules continues to be brand-new to people who still haven’t seen it.