Citizen's Arrest: A Simple How-To Guide

  1. Pick a war criminal: Many of these lawyers, advisors, former vice presidents, are now making the rounds on the speaker circuit, giving interviews and speeches in cities around the world. Check out local event calendars and make a habit of surfing the web to see who will be where. Below are some names, charges against them and more--you can see a longer list by state here. Or check out WarCriminalWatch or view Crimes and Misdemeanors--Slate's Interactive Guide: Who in the Bush administration broke the law, and who could be prosecuted?
  2. Strategy: Once you find a war criminal's whereabouts, get a few members of your local peace community together to plan your strategy. Will you be buying tickets and going inside or staying outside with banners and signs, etc? Will you be doing a symbolic citizen's arrest or will you actually be trying to slap the cuffs on 'em?
  3. Accessories:
    • Hand-cuffs (local costume shop)
    • Pink fabric banner that folds up small and discreet (for the inside action) or bigger banners and signs (for the outside action). Keep the messaging simple. "Arrest (war criminal's name here)" and "War Criminal!" are great--don't forget to put on the bottom!
    • Arrest Complaint (to be presented to the war criminal)
    • Camera and/or Video Camera + someone on your team in charge of documenting the action. 2 members of CODEPINK recently stormed the stage of RadioCity Music Hall to arrest Rove. Over 1,000 people saw it happen and not one photo or video clip. Don't let that happen to you! Be prepared to post the photos/video online after
    • Citizen's Arrest complaint (to hold as a visual and read to the war criminal present). We have one for Rove using California code here & a Citizen's Complaint for Chevron lawyer William Haynes here. Note: It will be necessary to modify according to state and the charges against the individual. Some charges are listed below but it could be helpful to do some research and or consult with any friends of yours in the legal community.
Go for it! Be courageous, be bold, be loud, be smart and stay on message!


  • 1/2 cup Courage, steeped in 1/2 Cup Street Smarts

  • 3/4 cup Strategy

  • 1 Pair of Handcuffs, as a prop

  • 1 (or more, use your discretion) War Criminal

  • 1 tablespoon Extract of Level-Headedness

  • 1 Citizen's Arrest Complaint, adjusted to the laws of your state

  • 3 heaping cups of Desire to See War Criminals Held Accountable for Their Crimes

  • 1 Photographer and 1 Videographer (to spread the story to the media and give inspiration to others)

  • Optional: a team of dedicated peace activists to join your action by holding banners, asking questions, holding an outside protest, etc.


  1. Educate yourself on who's who in the war criminal community. Find out about war criminals through CODEPINK's card deck online at

  2. Keep your eyes open for speaking engagements, book tour stops or other appearances by any war criminals (government or corporate). Depending on the circumstances, purchase or reserve a ticket, buy a book, stand in line or otherwise peacefully enter the proceedings. Discern whether your bag will be searched by security at the event. If so, handily slip your handcuffs and other arrest materials into your sleeves, your pockets, your pants or any other inconspicuous areas. Choose your seat carefully and observe the general "feel" of the crowd.

  3. While you wait in line or sit in the audience, you may feel nervous and doubt your ability to pull this off. Instead of dwelling on your fear, think of the millions of Iraqis who've been cast from their homes by the war Bush brought to their country. Think of the thousands of American sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who've given their lives to this fruitless enterprise. Think of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who've been killed, maimed, raped and plunged into destitution. Think of the inhuman, incalculable tragedy that this war has brought to everyone it's touched.

  4. Then remember that this is your job and your right as a citizen, look into the eyes of the war criminal, keep your cool, and non-violently attempt a citizen's arrest.

  5. Rise from your seat and say loudly “(ie DICK CHENEY) You are under arrest for war crimes!” Be prepared with a short line to say over and over. Hold up your handcuffs and your citizen's arrest complaint. Unfurl a banner if you have one. Make sure that your friend is recording you with a video recorder (a Flip camera works great for quick uploading to YouTube after your action).

    Note: Do NOT actually place the handcuffs on the war criminal's wrist or touch the criminal. Making physical contact with a war criminal may be construed as assault by the police; handcuffs are only for use as a prop. Only an on-duty police officer has the right to actually cuff the War Criminal in a citizen's arrest. Your arrest complaint is your power.

  6. After your action, immediately get the story out by calling reporters, writing a blog, posting your video and/or photos, and getting in touch with CODEPINK by emailing!

    Another slice of justice, served up with courage!