A new zine produced by Seeding Sovereignty takes readers through the theory and application of legal self defense. This tool encourages people to learn and train in skills that keep them as safe as possible against state violence. In the settler-colonial legal system of the United States, the institution of law enforcement has a monopoly on use of official violence against civilians. People face violence and criminalization for simply existing with a marginalized identity or in a marginalized community, and also for participating in liberatory work that challenges racial capitalism and other oppressive systems. Legal Self Defense understands that the U.S. Constitution guarantees neither fairness nor safety, but that de-escalation skills coupled with some targeted legal knowledge  can improve your security during interactions with law enforcement.

Even for those who generally find police interactions to be pleasant, learning and practicing legal self defense is a crucial act of solidarity. Kindness and brutality are both tactics used by police to further their own agenda, and which of those dynamics you experience when dealing with a cop depends on how much privilege you have: not on the benevolence of any particular officer.

“Legal Self Defense is framed through the understanding that the law, policing, and prisons are not in favor of the people nor liberation and should be abolished,” the zine reads. “Truly, no amount of legal knowledge will protect us from police whose work is to brutalize people and protect state interests. We can only do our best to protect ourselves and others.” 

It was inspired by a previous presentation from members of Seeding Sovereignty and CELDF.

Seeding Sovereignty’s work centers around not only land liberation, but is founded on the tenets of mutual aid, community defense, emancipation through education, and solidarity with underestimated brilliant, and often marginalized populations. To learn more about their work, head over to SeedingSovereignty.org