Security Handbook

[Over time, Freedom Movement projects in rural areas of the Deep South developed written security and safety rules in response to the persistant attacks and harassment that they had to endure. The rules and procedures varied over time and from one place to another as did project enforcement and individual compliance. This example is from Mississippi in 1964.]

PDF version from orientation

1. Communications personnel will act as security officers.

2. Travel

  1. When persons leave their project, they must call back to their project person to person for themselves on arrival at destination point. Should they be missing, project personnel will notify the Jackson office. WATS line operators will call each project every day at dinnertime or thereabouts, and should be notified of changes in personnel, transfers, etc. (If trips are planned in advance, this information can go to Jackson by mail.) Phone should be used only where there is no time. Care should be taken at all times to avoid, if possible, full names of persons traveling.) Checklists should be used in local projects for personnel to check in and out.

  2. Doors of cars should be locked at all times. At night, windows should be rolled up as much as possible. Gas tanks must have locks and be kept locked. Hoods should also be locked.

  3. No one should go anywhere alone, but certainly not in an automobile, and certainly not at night.

  4. Travel at night should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

  5. Remove all unnecessary objects from your car which could be construed as weapons. (hammers, files, etc.) Absolutely no liquor bottles, beer cans, etc. should be inside your car.

  6. Do not travel with names and addresses of local contacts.

  7. Know all roads in and out of town. Study the county map.

  8. Know locations of sanctuaries and homes in the county.

  9. When getting out of a car at night, make sure the car's inside light is out.

3. Living at a home or in Freedom Houses

  1. Be conscious of cars which circle offices or Freedom Houses. Take license numbers of all suspicious cars. Note make, model and year. Cars without license plates should immediately be reported to the project office.

  2. If it can be avoided, try not to sleep near open windows. Try to sleep at the back of the house, i.e., the part farthest from a road or street.

  3. Do not stand in doorways at night with the light at your back.

  4. At night, people should not sit in their rooms without drawn shades.

  5. Do not congregate in front of the house at night.

  6. Make sure doors to Freedom Houses have locks, and are locked.

  7. Keep records of suspicious events, i.e., the same car circling around the house or office several times during the day or week. Take license numbers, makes, years, and models of cars. Keep records of the times these cars appear.

  8. If an incident occurs, or is about to occur, call the project, and then notify local FBI and police.

  9. Depending on project needs and circumstances, it may be advisable for new personnel to make deliberate attempts to introduce themselves immediately to local police and tell them their reason for being in the area.

  10. A phone should be installed in each Freedom House, if there isn't one already. If a private phone is used, please put a lock on it. Otherwise, install a pay phone.

4. Personal Actions

  1. Carry identification at all times. Men should carry their draft cards.

  2. All drivers should have in their possession drivers licenses, registration papers, and bills of sale. The information should also be on record with the project director. If you are carrying supplies, it might be well to have a letter authorizing the supplies from a particular individual to avoid charges of carrying stolen goods.

  3. Mississippi is a dry state — and though liquor is ostensibly outlawed, it is available everywhere. You must not drink in offices, or homes. This is especially important for persons under 21.

  4. Try to avoid bizarre or provocative clothing, and beards. Be neat.

  5. Make sure that prescribed medicines are clearly marked with your name, the doctor's name, etc.

5. Relations with the Press

  1. Refer questions about our perspective or policies to the Project Director.

  2. Do not argue with the press. Do not exaggerate. Give the facts only.

  3. The Project Director and communications person will ask for credentials of press. If you do not know the reporter, check with one of them or ask to see the reporter's credentials.

    Try to relate your activities to the lives of the local residents. This will not be hard to do, or unnatural, if you remember your role in the state.

6. Information to Police

Under no circumstances should you give the address of the local person with whom you are living, his or her name, or the names of any local persons who are associated with you. When police ask where you live, give your local project or Freedom House address, or if necessary your out of state address.

7. Relations with visitors

Find out who strangers are. If persons come into project offices to "look around" try to discover who they are and what exactly they want to know. All offers of assistance should be cleared through the project director.

8. Records

Written records of importance should have at least two copies. Keep original, send copies to Jackson, Greenwood. Bear in mind that the office might be raided at any time. Keep a record of interference with phone lines and of notifications of FBI. This information will go to Jackson via the communications person.

9. Policy

  1. People who do not adhere to discipline requirements will be asked to leave the project.

  2. Security precautions are a matter of group responsibility. Each individual should take an interest in every other person's safety, well- being, and discipline.

  3. At all times you should be aware of the danger to local residents. White volunteers must be especially careful.

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