The Four Magic Phrases

videoart, policeviolence, communitymedia

Format: SD video
Duration: 2 minutes & 29 seconds
Year: 2010

After working with police accountability activists in Portland for a few years, I collaborated on a training video with Rose City Copwatch, an organization that observes and documents police activity in order to prevent police misconduct and police brutality.

Rose City Copwatch developed a set of four “magic phrases” for people to learn so that they are better equipped to interact with police officers and other representatives of the state. The Four Magic Phrases shows fourteen people all shouting or stating the four magic phrases to the camera. The repetition creates a rhythm that I hope will help viewers learn and remember these four phrases.

The four magic phrases are:

  1. “Am I free to go?”
  2. “I do not consent to a search.”
  3. “I don’t want to answer any questions. I want to talk to a lawyer.”
  4. And when you are copwatching: “I am here to observe. I do not intend to interfere.”