There’s a long hx in grassroots activism of providing informational outreach material on legal rights should you get arrested during a direct action. These were provided during most of the major Gay Liberation protests in the Bay Area, as well as during the 1960’s civil rights and revolutionary political protests.
As AIDS Activists involved in early harm reduction and direct action protests, we were routinely harassed and arrested by local police departments. For the novice protester or first timer, “Know Your Rights” sheets were dispensed before each action that had been drafted by various legal firms offering pro bono help. These simple instructions could mean the difference between a quick release or overnight stay in the “queer tank”.That Heather Edney and the other harm reductionists of SCNEP carried on this tradition is a testament to her prescience in that particular history of radical activism. They were taking the most practical and useful elements of those earlier movements and applying them to their own. This use of long standing monkey-wrenching tactics that had successfully been employed in previous struggles for freedom would join with their newly developing harm reduction model to create a sweeping agenda of reform and change that continues to guide the conversation around the decriminalization of drugs.
These particular legal informational Xerox flyers created by artist Eleanor Herasimchuk are illustrative of the exchange’s use of punk aesthetics, and highlights their cut and paste method that would easily attract the attention of young drug users. Heather and the SCNEP staff had created one of the earliest user-driven needle exchange programs in the country.