Types of Repression: Intimidation

As protests continue, we are seeing an increase in repression of the movement and anyone taking part in it. Repression is the process of the state, both local and federal agencies, attempting to disrupt, destroy, and co-opt organizations, actions, movements, or groups whose goal is to change the status quo in a systematic way. The purpose of repression is to stop our movements from making society-wide change. Ongoing legal support and the development of political legal defense is one way to challenge this type of repression. In the coming days, we will post more about other ways to keep your comrades and yourself safe as you continue to work towards systemic change. 

Repression from the state can be big or small, visible or invisible. There are several categories that sum up the different types of repression: Intimidation, Surveillance, Infiltration, Provocation, Charges, and Co-optation. Some of the actions of repression can overlap and be used in other categories. 

Intimidation is when local police or federal agencies like FBI, NSA or ICE try to scare people who are protesting or taking action into stopping. They are trying to cause a “cooling effect”, influencing people to stop taking action because the risks become too high or people are not prepared for the possible consequences of these actions. Here are some examples of intimidation by state agents: 

  • Phone calls by local police or federal agents to ask about your experience protesting and what you know about the actions of other people
  • Visits by local police or federal agents to gather information regarding a specific crime, a person or a group of people the state has a particular interested in finding out more information about
  • These visits can be to a home, work, organizing spaces, family member or loved one’s home, or other regularly frequented places
  • Arrests with lots of charges or high penalty charges like riot or assault
  • Mass arrests of many people at once
  • A police officer or agent or police drone following you on foot or in a car
  • Marked cop squad cars parked outside of your home or work for an extended period of time without the home or work being approached by the officers in the car
  • Raids by police or federal agents on people’s home, work place, or other frequented places
  • Media stories and narratives that de-legitimize certain groups, kinds of actions or people as “bad”, “outside agitators”, “violent” in order for other protesters to distance themselves from these actions


How do you deal with these things? Your safest bet is to not talk to any local police officer or federal agent that calls, visits or approaches you. If this takes place at your house, keep your door closed and locked and don’t answer it. If you are approached on the street, say “Am I being detained?”. If the agent says no, leave. If they say, yes then say “I will remain silent. I want to speak to a lawyer” each time that they ask you a question. If they call you, hang up. You don’t have to talk to them other than to give them your name. It is important not to lie to any law enforcement or federal agent intentionally or unintentionally. Saying “I don’t know” when the police can prove that you do know something is considered lying to a police officer. Again, the best way to keep yourself and others safe against repression is to not talk to law enforcement officers.