Police Liaison Officers are everywhere these days, constantly hanging around ‘engaging’ with protesters. They are being hailed as a new invention, but the role they carry out is not new at all. It’s just that it used to be done by cops in blue bibs called ‘FIT teams’
Back before FIT got a bad name (something we hope that Fitwatch have, at least in part, contributed to) FIT used to spend a lot of time ‘engaging’ too. Their original remit included:
• to establish a dialogue with individuals and groups to gather intelligence and information on the changing mood, dynamics, and intent of crowd;
• to monitor marshalling, assembly and dispersal areas;
• to identify prominent participants;
• to obtain information about participants and future events.
‘Prominent participants’ once identified, would then go on the CRIMINT database, and would soon find cameras shoved in their faces wherever they went.
PLO's will work the same way, even if they dont spend all their time taking photos and writing things down in notebooks. At the DPAC protest yesterday regular PLO Chief Inspector Sonia Davis was hanging around asking ‘prominent participants’ if they were organisers of the protest, and suggesting they should hand over their ‘name and contact details’ so she could ‘stay in touch’.
Sonia is the most high ranking PLO we have seen – a little too high ranking for a role that just involves ‘being friendly’. She seems able to have a lot of time off from her role as head of operations at Hackney, as she has been seen at a lot of different demonstrations, including the counter olympics demo, critical mass, and even an EDL protest. But then she does have a background in counter-terrorism - perhaps you can draw your own conclusions.
Other PLOs have history as FIT. Take CO 89 Sergeant Holland, for example, seen with Sonia at various demos. The pics above show him in a previous incarnation – as a FIT officer at the student demonstrations in 2011.
Just because they smile a lot, and leave their cameras at home, does not mean we should accept them or engage with them any more than we would FIT teams. PLO’s are intelligence gathering, building the ever-growing databases on protesters and 'domestic extremism'. They should be resisted in every possible way, and if possible pushed out from our demos - like the Smash EDO people succeeded in doing in Brighton.
FITwatch have been inspired by the amount of people taking an interest in the policing operations on November 9th. FITwatch recognise critical enagagement with policing strategy as being crucial to our success as a protest movement. However, FITwatch wanted to flag one particular area of concern in this debate.
Part of Bernard Hogan-Howe's "Total Policing" agenda was revealed on the Novermber 9th demonstration the other week, when the choice was made - partly, at least - to depart from a public order strategy based on entirely containment. This presented the demonstration with a number of unexpected problems, which we hope to explore in future. However, for the purpose of this article, we will be looking at the prevalance of plainclothes police officers. With this, we hope to debunk a popular myth about plainclothes officers and prompt a more sober gathering of evidence on their remit on the day, in the hope we can use this knowledge to better combat their influence in future..
There has been alot of talk on the internet, musing as to what the role of plainclothes police was, along with a particular video, which we will address later on. Predominantly, this talk falls into two camps:
1) These plainclothes cops were, in fact, undercover "agents provocateurs" intent on turning a peaceful march violent, through provoking the crowd into confrontation with uniformed police or each other. Such a move, it is believed, would then allow the police to brutally repress the demonstration with impunity, allowing the media an opportunity to misrepresent demonstrators as "violent thugs" and build public support for a state crackdown.
2) These plainclothes cops were, in fact, behaving in a way that would provoke the crowd and are, therefore, deserving of the label "agents provocateurs".
It may seem like distinctions between the two are arbitrary, but in our responses you will understand why they are not:
1) Whilst, at first thought, this may appear to be logical - the latter part certainly chimes with what many of us will have witnessed in the wake of particularly militant demonstrations - it is actually the least logical explanation.
Think back to some of your experiences (or the experiences of others) with protest...the almost pathological obsession that public order police have with maintaining authority on a personal and institutional level. The vice-like grip they attempt to exert on our protests and social movements. The frankly sociopathic behaviour of long-term state infiltrators. The inhumane and indiscriminate containment of (often young) people for long periods of time. The brutal attacks with batons, shields, dogs and horses with the visibly disabled, children and pregnant women targetted. When the police behave like this, do they at ANY POINT act like they need an excuse? Given that they are behaving like this to maintain control of the streets at any cost, is it likely that they would go to the effort of deliberately provoking disorder to get an excuse that they did not need in the first place? Even if they did want to do so, why would they go to the effort of engaging in highly illegal agents provocateur tactics, whilst allowing those agents provocateurs to change in and out of police uniform very publicly amongst a movement that has been characterised by its use of social media, open source publishing and digital recording? After all, the police have managed to escalate conflict situations quite efficiently (but definitely not intentionally!) on demonstrations recently, when angry people have decided to defend themselves against relentless police attacks. Even if all this failed and they still wanted to justify their brutality in the media, they could do so anyway. Even with all the bad press they have had recently, the police still have a sophisticated PR machine that can feed the press numerous lies to justify action they take, even when they murder people (see: Mark Duggan, Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes.)
There were lots of plainclothes cops on November 9th. If they wanted to kick it off, they could have done easily. But nothing happened.
2) This is more addressed to the video that has been circulated around the internet, which presents a series of events in one particular area of the demonstration and poses the question: "undercover snatch squad or agents provocateurs?". FITwatch would answer "undercover snatch squad", but don't just take our word for it. Watch the video here.
Firstly, this video, doesn't run at the speed it was filmed nor with the original sound intact. Whilst we are sure that the person who edited the video had no bad intentions, as a result of it we are unable to assess the overall situation in which these events are set with any degree of clarity. We simply must take the editors word for it, which is never a good starting point. But, from what we can see, we see the following:
(i)a cluster of uniformed police
(ii) some plainclothes police moving away from the camera on the left-hand side of the street, behind the cluster of uniformed police and towards (presumably) the front of the crowd.
(iii) 2 plainclothes police moving into the crowd, on the right-hand side of the cluster of uniformed police, in roughly the same direction as the police in point (ii). They barge their way into the crowd, with some unfortunate lad getting a bit of a 'roughing up' at first. An officer goes over to have a look, and the plainclothes cop flashes a warrant card. Unsuprisingly, the uniformed officer becomes disinterested. We then see nothing more. It's reasonable to assume they continued barging their way through the crowd to get to the front.
(iv) Fast forward to the front of the demo, where we see a few other plainclothes join the ones identified earlier, on the other side of police lines. Then we see a young man getting brutally snatched and detained by a mob of cops.
(v) The editor claims that, at this point, the crowd become angry. However, no disorder occurs. We are also told at an earlier point in the video that people begin to point the plainclothes out and there is definitely some panicking and people screaming "agents provocateurs!".
Points (i)-(iv) are just a variation on a snatch squad. Whereas uniformed public order officers would plough their way though a crowd in a single, triangular formation, these plainclothes officers clearly have the advantage of being less identifiable, so they can split up without risking their safety too much. If we accept point (v), then we accept that the crowd is much slower to respond to a plainclothes snatch squad than a uniformed one. Therefore, we must pose the question, did the police conduct the snatch squad in plainclothes because they thought it would be more provocative or less provocative? Would we have seen a greater response from the crowd had they been uniformed? Would they have made it all the way to the other side of the crowd with such impunity had they been uniformed? Or, conversely, if they were there to provoke disorder, why did they not succeed?
It is comforting for us to resort to the popular mythology and terminology of protest when we are frightened or disorientated by police tactics. But we must think about the bigger picture when responding to such events. With more sober reflection upon the facts, we find ourselves empowered by our new knowledge. The Police are beginning to implement a colossal shift in their tactics on street level, departing with well over a decade of orthodoxy in public order policing. Just as, one year ago, the demonstration at Millbank brought to an end almost one decade of stagnation in radical protest movements. It is now the police who are lagging behind us. It is now the police who have a new, uncertain approach. It has taken them a year to respond to our growing movement - a movement that has been so effective and so hard to police because of its diversity of tactics, its solidarity and its likeness to the "many headed hydra": they cut off one of the hydra's heads, and two more grow back in it's place. We could respond with entirely new tactics tomorrow, if we wanted to.
But a note of caution. If we proceed to invoke the activist bogeyman, the "agents provocateurs", with no real evidence we could lose all of this. Although FITwatch acknowledge that police attacks are often provocative by default, we think it is unhelpful to label them a deliberate provocation. When the police attack us, it is because they want to regain control of us, not because they need an excuse to exert further control on us. People take action in many ways to defend themselves against police attacks, from linking arms, running away, filming them, challenging them verbally or, in some cases, fighting back to protect themselves and others. If we accept that the state brutalises us, just to provoke us, just to brutalise us further then we are essentially accepting a constant cycle of brutalisation. We are accepting the inevitability of our repression on the streets. Thus, we are accepting the futility of fighting for the world we want to live in. We are eliminating our collective agency in a time of mass social upheaval. We are essentially saying that when we resist, things will only get worse, rather than better - and that those who resist are simply mindless pawns in a game where the state has total control.
Such talk is as dangerous as it is incorrect. If the state are employing these tactics for any deeper psychological purpose, it will be this one. And we can fight back NOW - by refusing to perpetuate our own division, demoralisation and destruction. Yes, the state is going to get nasty. But they are doing so because they want to destroy our movement, not provoke it into being even more ferocious. We have the power, they are on the backfoot, WE CAN WIN!
Solidarity, FITwatch Crew.
This will not only include criminal records, but all that ‘intelligence’ that is so lovingly gathered by FIT teams at political meetings, rallies, protests and actions. You know the stuff – you’ve innocently nipped out to grab a coffee, but in the eyes of the FIT it has become so much more dramatic. ‘target x is carrying out a ‘reccy’ on Cafe Nero for potential violent direct action and criminal damage.....’
Jennie Cronin, Director of Databases at the National Policing Improvement Agency NPIA confirmed to ZednetUK that the database would include intelligence data on protesters;
"It is a matter for the police force [as to] what information they hold," she said, saying such information may be on the national database "if a police force feels it is important enough to have on their own system and feels it is important enough to share". She added, however, that anyone can make a request with their local police force to see if their details are on that force's systems.
Political activists will undoubtedly be reassured, knowing they will be able to check that the FIT aren’t making up tales of terrorism and riot. Or at least they might be, if it were true. For many, the experience to date has been that the various police forces are strangely reluctant to share their ‘important’ data with the individuals concerned. To give just one example, requests by four activists to get their personal data from South Wales Police have all been denied. Information was withheld ‘in the interests of preventing and detecting crime and disorder’.
It’s interesting how low down the pecking order the actual data subjects are. Supplied alongside one denied data protection request was a list of all the people the police would be happy to share the data with, ‘in certain circumstances’. These included security companies; local and central government; current, past and prospective employers; healthcare, social and welfare practitioners; licensing authorities; ‘partner agencies’ involved in crime and disorder strategies; private sector organisations working with police in anti-crime strategies; voluntary sector organisations and ‘approved organisations and people working with police’. Just about anyone, in fact.
So, not only can the FIT make subjective judgements which are then entered onto the database as ‘fact’, this data can now be shared with all 43 police forces on the PND. On top of that it can also be shared with your employer, housing officer, and private security firms like Agenda Security, the ‘extremism monitoring’ organisation which is the latest money-spinner for ex head of NETCU, Steve Pearl. A key role of Agenda Security is to stop political activists ‘infiltrating’ organisations, or to put it another way, to stop them getting a job.
Knowledge is power, and the PND provides the modern ‘intelligence led’ police force with more of both. The consequences for political organising can’t be good.
New revelations published in an excellent article in today’s Schnews show police and/or government employees actively disrupting activist websites, posting comments designed to “sow mistrust, demoralise movements and to incite violence and illegality”.
We understand well over one hundred posts have been made to Indymedia UK, the activists open publishing news website, made by anonymous posters hiding behind the ‘303 gateway’ - part of the Government Secure Intranet (GSI). The GSI was set up to provide secure communications between government bodies, but appears also to be used to hide the origin of defamatory, misleading and malicious comments made on a number of activist websites.
Fitwatch has also been the target of posts from IP: 184.108.40.206, gateway-303.energis.gsi.gov.uk, leading to serious questions regarding how many political sites and blogs have been targeted.
Some posts have been deliberately provocative and divisive. One bleated, “Still a bit worried about the FITWATCH policy - is ALL fit activity to be opposed? Or is it only that we disagree with - hence not opposing FIT activity against the EDL?”
Other comments have publicised legal action taken against Fitwatch activists, presumably in an attempt to undermine our support. During one case, three people convicted for obstructing police cameras found the news of the verdict posted before they had even left court. Similarly, a Fitwatch activist deported from Copenhagen after being caught up in the mass (unlawful) preventative arrests during the COP 15 protests, had the news – along with her name – posted on the then unmoderated site from the 303 gateway address. The post was removed by Fitwatch in order to protect her privacy.
The latest comment from gateway 303 on Fitwatch, on 20 December 2010, crows that some of the Ratcliffe defendants – subjects of surveillance by undercover cop, Mark Kennedy – had been found guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass, and asks people to change/retract their comments.
The content and style of the posts, on both sites, strongly suggests they are part of a campaign of disruption by the police and home office, aimed at protest groups. The three ‘domestic extremism’ units, currently headed up by ACPO, are known to have several ‘disruption’ techniques in their armoury, including the use of undercover police officers. Given much protest organising and discussion now occurs over the internet, it is logical the same tactics of disruption and manipulation used by undercover operatives in activist meetings and communities is extended to internet debates.
Although the exact origin of these posts is unknown, we strongly suspect the ACPO domestic extremism units are behind them – and at least one was signed NETCU. However, given the cloaking nature of the gateway, there may be other police and government units involved in the monitoring and disruption of ‘extremist’ websites like Indymedia and Fitwatch
Clearly the state feels able to act without restraint when dealing with political activism and dissent. Increasingly protest activity is being treated in a similar way to terrorist activity – extremism that must be monitored, and disrupted. We must be vigilant to these attempts at subversion and develop strategies to deal with them. We are still investigating how many sites have been targeted by the gateway – please get in touch if you have further examples and we will collate the information.
We’d love to know the origin of these posts, who wrote them, and what the objectives of the operation were. Anyone from NCDE care to respond?
Smash EDO’s Hammertime protest on 13th October saw a return to kettling, mass arrests and draconian policing. Proving finally the post G20 honeymoon is over, Sussex police clearly showed it was business as usual in attempting to repress, intimidate and harass protesters.
Before the protest had even begun, over 100 police surrounded the convergence centre where people were staying and attempted to escort them to the designated protest area in a mobile kettle, demanding masks be removed.
The following post has been taken from Indymedia. There is no reason to doubt it's authenticity. While it is sickening, it is no surprise to discover undercover police working in this way. There have been other accounts of such things happening.
Update, 25 October 2010: Fitwatch can now confirm the accuracy of following statement. Several other groups have also provided confirmation.
"Mark 'Stone' has been an undercover police officer from 2000 to at least the end of 2009. We are unsure whether he is still a serving police officer or not. His real name is Mark Kennedy. Investigations into this identity revealed evidence that he has been a police officer, and a face-to-face confession has confirmed this. Mark claims that he left the police force in late 2009, and that before becoming an undercover officer he was a Metropolitan police constable.
Please pass this information on to anyone who may have been in contact with Mark in the last decade, both in the UK and abroad."
This report was written for Fitwatch by a no borders activist.
This report is a basic document gathered from direct witnesses, anecdotal evidence, footage, legal documents and statements after the incidents. It is no way entirely comprehensive or representative of everything that happened at the Camp and during the week. Anonymity is ensured. The report has been organised under these main headings which should cover all the points and incidents.
1) Pre-emptive Arrests
2) Undercover Policing+Intelligence
3) a) Brutality (demonstrations)
b) Brutality (detention)
4) Sexual Violence
The Brussels No Border Camp (NBX) was organised as a week of actions, workshops, discussions and a space to come together against the (anti) migration policy of the European Union. It was a platform for groups and individuals to organise and share information as well as participate in actions against various targets, ranging from private companies to EU buildings.
It seemed that the Police in Belgium had learnt a lot about preventing protests and disorder from the Danish Police. Those of us who had been in Copenhagen felt the despairing feeling of a waste of time in Police detention. The policy of mass arrests began on the Wednesday the 29th. This was the day of the anti-austerity demonstrations in Europe. Tens of thousands of Trade Unionists from all over Europe including France, Spain and Poland descended on Brussels. The No Borders were invited to join in solidarity and people decided to go as an Anti-Capitalist Black Bloc. But the cops had other ideas and arrested around 300 people before they arrived at the demonstration. Anyone who looked like a NB activist was spotted and detained. The law of Administrative arrest in Belgium is that it is legal to detain people for 12 hours without them having committed any crime, only that they might in the future. This continued on the 1st with the evening 'illegal' demonstration called by a Brussels Anarchist group against the Police and Authority. Around 100 people were rounded up again and arrested, with the Police having banned all groups of over 5 people around the train station. Plastic handcuffs and the strange V-sitting position made infamous in Copenhagen were used.
“we were simply getting onto a bus when an undercover police car drove in front of the bus and stopped it. They got onto the bus and took us out, they refused to identify themselves and when one activist demanded to see his ID the officer pointed a can of CS into his face and screamed that that was his ID. They did not tell us why we were under arrest but instead cuffed us and dragged us away”
The policy extended not only to demonstrations but also to any activists walking around in the city at any time of day for any reason. The author witnessed several groups of people who were walking around the shopping area being chased, thrown to the floor and arrested. The Belgian Police used this ability of pre-emptive arrests to break people and destroy demonstrations, to great affect. Many people were too exhausted by the ordeals that they didn't go on subsequent demonstrations.
Undercover and Intelligence
The use of undercover police was prolific during the camp. Every demonstration contained significant numbers of undercovers. They used video cameras to gather intelligence on specific activists or incidents. They were used to break up demonstrations and would identify during riots with orange armbands, but they would also simply attack people and were incredibly violent. They were noticed all around the city for the whole week and some were noticed in the camp itself, although they were quickly driven out. On the demonstration on the 29th they were used to splinter, attack and disperse the anti-capitalist bloc. They used batons and CS spray to arrest 50 activists, working with the highly visible riot cops. It was highly demoralising to people that the person standing next to them could just attack them when they got the order.
The intelligence gathering during the week was covert and effective. Many undercovers would roam the streets around the camp and direct visible police to any NB street presence. They were able to gain information on peoples whereabouts and their description without overt surveillance:
One group of German activists decided to attend the demonstration on the 29th. They dressed in civilian clothes and joined a 30 strong group of students who were walking in the direction of the demonstration. Within five minutes the police arrived and handpicked the five German activists out the group of 35 people.
The author witnessed several rubbish collectors giving information to the undercover police as to the whereabouts of NB activists. Other activists witnessed similar levels of civilian collaboration.
Intelligence gathering on demonstrations was also used. People would only be let out of kettles once they had been photographed. Activists had photos used against them in detention as proof of crimes. Forcible photographing was also used in detention with many people being beaten and seriously injured until they were photographed.
The suspicion of cross-border collaboration was confirmed when a prominent French activist working with Calais Migrant Solidarity (a sister group to No Borders providing practical solidarity along the Northern French Coast) was taken from his cell and interviewed by the head of Northern France's undercover police. The activist in question refused to answer his questions and was put back in his cell.
The attitude of the Police throughout the week gave the impression that they had been given free reign to be violent, abusive and cruel without any recourse. Many people have testified to the brutality of the week.
The first demonstration of the week began against a close detention centre and as a commemoration for Semira Adamu who was killed in 1998 during her deportation. The detention centre was surrounded by specially placed barbed wire, water cannons, riot cops, horses and dogs. The demonstration concluded with incredible violence. People were surrounded and people taken out and beaten. One journalist had his ear drum ruptured from excessive beating. A cop was also kicked by a horse which led to the police retaliating by beating several activists to the ground and kicking one girl in the head until she lost consciousness.
Those who managed to avoid pre-emptive arrest (see above) and arrived at the demonstration were confronted by highly edgy and violent police. They used undercover police and riot police to disperse and arrest demonstrators. The cops injured many people and several went to hospital with severe head injuries. They also used CS spray prolifically. People who managed to escape were later attacked in a park by undercover police who also beat them badly. The demonstration was attacked without provocation and the main objective seemed to be simply to attack No Borders activists:
“any association with the No Borders Camp and any desire to help those who live their everyday lives in the insecurity of having no papers and nowhere safe to turn, was a justification for severe violence. The police laid their values on the table for me, clear as day. For them the safety, physical and mental well being and the democratic rights of the human beings whose care they were responsible for was irrelevant”
Whilst the Police certainly were violent on the streets, they saved their most brutal behaviour for the arrests and detention. An unbelievable amount of violence against No Borders activists went on inside the Police stations.
For fourteen unforgettable hours I was held in custody and subjected to their violence, their authority, their every whim. I was beaten, spat upon, repeatedly called a ‘dirty whore’ and chained to a radiator until 4am right outside the open door to the office of the chief of police, who observed it all and reacted only with silence. The police chief and I also witnessed the violent beating of another arrestee, also chained to a radiator, upon whom the police unleashed a fit of rage like none I’d ever seen – the young man fell to the ground screaming the only French word he knew, ‘non, non, non’. As I watched this, chained myself right next to the police chief, I wondered what country I was in, how such a thing could happen at all in this world, and where oh where had democracy and justice gone?
Those brought into the Police stations were held for many hours without charge, had property stolen, beaten, denied water and food and toilets for 12 hours, had false allegations made against them and sexually abused.
October 02, 2010 17:55 - According to a testimony of an eyewitness, six people that were arrested yesterday after 10pm near the attacked police station Place du Jeu de Balle were heavily mistreated inside. The beatings, kickings, spittings, insultings took several hours until they were brought to Palace de Justice. At least one of the arrested was visibly injured and constantly asking for a doctor. Dozens of police were present, the harassments took place in front of the office of the head of the police station. A detailed report will follow in the next days.
The Police seemed to use the opportunity of detention to retaliate for 'losses' on the streets, they beat people on the basis of nationality. The brutality was also not the actions of a few unhinged officers but seemed to come from the highest command. The testimony of being chained to a radiator outside the Chief of Police's office seems to confirm that all officers were complicit, that there was a culture and attitude of acceptance towards brutality of detainees.
“The violence I experienced and witnessed was not the random act of a single police officer that had gotten out of hand. It was apparent from the very first beating that for these police officers, in this police station, this unimaginable violence was completely normal behaviour. They did not feel the need to hide me in a cell in order to beat me; they did not shelter their violence from the eyes of their superiors or their colleagues; their colleagues did not even look up from their paper work. Why would they? They obviously saw this everyday.”
People also lost many possessions to the Police. Cameras, passports, money, USB sticks, Dictaphones and personal property were stolen and some given back later but many were never recovered:
“When I was finally released by a judge fourteen hours later, I received a plastic bag with my belongings in it. But many items were missing. Most importantly, my Identity Card, but also my USB stick, the camera I had with me and twenty-five euros cash. When I returned to the police station to reclaim my items – together with friends because I literally feared for my life – they laughed at me and said they were keeping my money as ‘financial compensation' and taking the camera and the USB stick for investigation. I asked for a written record that these items were being confiscated and received none. I requested my ID card back and they just laughed. When I returned two days later for my ID card, they told me they had lost it somewhere in a ‘combi’”
Those arrested on the street also faced a horrific experience. Many were forced to sit for hours, sometimes in the rain. Detainees on the street were forced to kneel and grovel in front of undercover officers, many were spat at, shouted at, verbally abused, beaten, pepper-sprayed and physically assaulted. Inside the vans detainees were also beaten, had their heads smashed into the walls or sexually assaulted.
Whilst many aspects of the Polices behaviour was abhorrent and outrageous it is the aspect of sexual violence that has worried and terrified many activists the most. The idea of physical harm is something that many activists have experienced and are prepared for, but sexual abuse at the hands of a Police officer is something that breaks many people. The reports suggest that all sexual violence was aimed almost exclusively at female activists, although there were male activists who were strip searched.
'Operation Trouser' is one part of this experience. Many female activists were forced to strip down to their underwear in order to humiliate them in front of male officers during interrogations. Many female activists were injured when they refused to do so but were forcibly stripped anyway. Eye-witnesses report that this technique was referred to as 'Operation Trouser'.
“Later, two women from camp were picked up by police while walking in the direction of the Gesu squat. While in custody they were forced to strip in front of male officers. One woman refused and had clothes physically ripped off her. They were later released, again without charge, in a highly distressed state”
The most terrifying and worrying technique however is that the Police would pick female activists off the street and threaten to rape them inside their vans. One friend was picked up outside a squat and driven around the streets. The Police did not believe that she could speak French, but she was able to. She overheard them discussing whether or not to rape her, they decided not to and was thrown out of the van.
“Later, a man and woman out walking near camp were stopped by police. The woman was told she was going to be raped before being bundled into a van by five policemen and her hood pulled down over her head. She was released soon after on the other side of camp, highly distressed”
The gender violence also extended to the girls not having access to toilets whilst in detention. Female activists were forced to urinate into bottles or across the floor. The cells were not equipped with toilets for females and the Police refused to take them from their cells.
As distressing and disturbing the violence was during the week, one thing that stood out from other summits, such as Copenhagen is that people did not let it stop them carrying out autonomous actions, retaliations against the police, resistance in the cells and intelligence gathering against the cops.
There are too many autonomous actions to list here, people took it upon themselves amidst the repression of the week to go out in small groups and disrupt, smash and attack all manner of targets. Here is an example of some:
Despite the repression, several other actions took place: anti-Frontex banners and flyering at the airport, Frontex windows and doors smashed and smoke bombs were let off, locks glued at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). A building of Sodexho - the French hotel and catering company with a 50% share in Corrections Corporation of Australia and UK Detention Services, had windows smashed and oil was spilled over another Sodexho building. Steria, the company that designed the Eurodac fingerprinting database - leading to thousands of migrants a year being deported - had its windows smashed and “Smash Eurodac” spray-painted across it. The Italian Embassy had excrement thrown over it.
Several autonomous actions took place, including BP’s headquarters which was blockaded, plus The Royal Palace Hall, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Greek Embassy spray-painted with slogans like “You have blood on your hands - No Borders”.
This was the tone of the week. People refusing to be silenced by the repression and not losing the message of the camp to the simple 'cops-vs-protesters' that often mars many action camps.
Retaliations against the police was also prolific. Many people were enraged at their friends being so abused and took direct action against the cops.
In retaliation for the mass arrests and sexual violence, 30 people attacked a police station, breaking windows and doors, letting off smoke bombs and starting a fire. Police vans were also attacked with Molotovs. Six unrelated people caught up in the resulting turmoil were arrested.
Resistance in the cells continued all throughout the week. People cut their handcuffs, and helped other do the same. Cells were graffitied, lights were smashed, toilets ripped off the walls, plaster and bricks were ripped from the walls, doors were damaged until they would not lock, water and food were thrown at the cops. People did not remain calm in the face of Police repression and screamed and chanted for many hours. The police brought dogs into the station to control activists but people were still not deterred. Resistance to the fingerprinting was also done. Skillshares on how to remove fingerprints with different materials led to people damaging their fingerprints to the extent that they were unable to have them taken. The machines could not recognise damaged fingers.
People also resisted the intrusive behaviour of the undercover police. Photos and names of undercovers were circulated throughout the camp so that everyone could recognise them if they entered the camp or attended a demonstration. People also spent time in demonstrations searching for undercovers and ousting them, people held cardboard banners saying 'civil police here' if they found some. Many were chased out of the big demonstration on the 2nd to the chants and jeers of demonstrators.
Overall it felt like despite the police repression people were able to fully participate in the camp, attend meetings and workshops, participate in and organise autonomous actions without lasting legal repercussions, attend demonstrations and be part of a growing movement. The reactions of activists was more encouraging than in Copenhagen, people refused to the best of their abilities and moved away from the mass action to small affinity group actions. It seems that many people have had that feeling after the camp, that mass bloc actions are dead with the rise of mass police pre-emptive arrests. It felt like a success and full credit to the organisers of the camp and the No Borders as a whole which feels like an exciting and growing movement to be a part of.
Love and solidarity to all, especially to those who suffered at the hands of the police during the week.
No Borders Anti-National
Hundreds of articles, photos, videos and communiqués can be found here:
Pictures of broken windows and arrests here: http://linksunten.indymedia.org/de/node/26054
This was, according to the police, an entirely peaceful march, with no criminal offences taking place. It was predominantly a trade union march, upbeat and with plenty of colourful banners. Yet the police still insisted on imposing strict conditions on the route, refusing to allow the march anywhere near the Conservative Party conference which was the focus of the protests. These conditions were ‘robustly’ enforced with ten foot metal cordons, dogs and huge numbers of police officers.
When, towards the end of the march, some from the anarchist block decided to force the point and leave the authorised route, they were immediately ‘kettled’ - surrounded and held by police and dog units. The fifty or so in the kettle were pushed and shoved towards the car park where coaches were waiting, and were told they would be searched and released. Police cameramen carefully filmed each person as they were searched, getting close up shots of head and shoulders, clothing, shoes and ‘identifying features’. Police also demanded they give their name and address on film. The legality of all this is dubious - the Public Order Act (section 60) gives the police powers to search people for weapons but not, as they did here, to gather intelligence for their database while they are doing it.
When about half of the group objected to being filmed in this way, and refused to co-operate with the search while police cameras were present, the police response was to search them by force. At least one protester was left with severe bruising, another missing clumps of hair. None of the searches resulted in anything ‘untoward’ being found, there were no items seized and no arrests.
Generally the surveillance, while often discrete, was ever present. A large police mobile CCTV van (bearing the words Football Operations) was parked at the march start point. The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), the unit that exists to keep tabs on ‘domestic extremists’ were there too, gathering their own ‘intel’. A very expensive police helicopter hovered above. And police cameramen took photographs from windows of a number of buildings lining the route (out of reach of Fitwatchers!).
Given the extent of surveillance of their members on this march, it is remarkable (though perhaps not surprising) that the unions don’t do more to question where the line is between ‘facilitating’ protest, and controlling political expression.
The poor old FIT coppers from the shadowy National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) seem to be having a hard time in Edinburgh this week.
A video put out on you tube yesterday showed a great bit of Fitwatching by Climate Camp activists. With determination and some nerve they surrounded NPOIU cop Mark Sully and his expensive long zoom lens camera with scarves and banners. They then held their ground as Sully clearly became frustrated, pointlessly snapping his camera over the banners.
This sort of action is far from being a mere bit of bravado. Sully (CO996) and his sidekick Ian Caswell (1818), are not neutral keepers of the peace, as the police often pretend they are. Their role is to gather intelligence on, and disrupt the actions of climate camp activists. Activists identified photographed by Sully’s long lens camera will find themselves labelled domestic extremists with their own file on NPOIU’s database. Climate campers should buy these guys a drink!
According to reports, Scottish FIT were keen to come across as different to the Met. They were friendly, extremely friendly, happy to hang out on the gate, chatting with the gate shift, passing the time of day. There is nothing wrong with friendly, of course, but activists should know that with a FIT cop all is rarely what it seems. Climate campers would be wise to keep them at a very long arms length, no matter how friendly they are.
Overall policing has been described as fairly low key, perhaps reflecting the desire of RBS to keep the whole thing out of the press. There have been scuffles though, between police and activists outside the RBS building. Two people are reported to have been injured enough to need hospital treatment, both injuries apparently the result of being kicked by police officers. Two others were arrested for breach of the police offences, apparently entirely randomly.
Were you there? Reports on the policing of the site / arrests / assaults on activists are very welcome. Mail us on email@example.com
A Fitwatchers experience at Climate Camp Cymru (CCC):
The policing strategy for CCC 2010 was bizarre, disproportionate and manipulative. The event started when we swooped the site for CCC. We had already had to turn down two previous options for the site, one because of bad luck and an angry farmer and the second (which was the site of the previous camp) was crawling in cops from early morning.
The first sign of the police was a helicopter which flew around the site and the surrounding area and disappeared. When the police arrived on site the Community Liaison Officers from the year before identified themselves (Sergeant Conker-Female and Inspector Smith-Male), both promised a quiet relaxed policing style with minimal uniform presence and an eye to keeping the peace. This was shattered several hours later by two plain clothes police climbing out of a blue BMW.
They identified themselves simply as Police Negotiators and were very aggressive. They told us that the owner of the land had been duped and that we had effectively squatted the land and committed trespass. He also said that we could be committing aggravated trespass since the farmer had intentions for the field which we were preventing him from carrying out. He also said that the site was of interest to CADW which are the Welsh historical preservation society and that we could be damaging the field. During these negotiations the police began to bring in several vans of EGT officers (numbers to follow) and several Intelligence Officers. The day ended with us being told that the farmer would negotiate with us in the morning with the negotiating team present. We agreed and got some sleep.
The next morning the negotiations began, and whilst they started the police cynically brought in an Wildlife Crime Officer to chat to us on the gate. The negotiations ended with us having no official or implied permission from the farmer. We were also told that we had committed damage to an ancient site by placing tent pegs in the ground. From then on the police attitude become more confrontational, they stopped anyone from entering the camp. If we left we would not be allowed back in (denying us water) stopping new members of CCC from joining us. The police brought in floodlights, dozens of vans, a bizarre mobile intelligence van with the words EXCELERATE on the sides, mounted police and more EGT teams in an un-marked van (reg CON6DBZ).
We were essentially surrounded and eventually the police told us that if we did not leave the site we would be arrested for aggravated trespass. We made a decision to leave the site and save ourselves for further actions. We began to pack up as over one hundred cops came on site and ensured that we left. Intelligence Officers used EGT teams to identify those of significance, particularly those in masks, medics and perceived organisers. We left the site and made our way to another, followed the whole while by vans of police. They continued to monitor us for several days, but did not manage to prevent several affinity groups from leaving the site, making their way back to Neath, making their way through forests and mine security to enter and leave an open cast mine without any interference from the police.
Also worthy of note is the presence of the female negotiator from the Cardiff EDL demo. She was on the lawn in plain clothes and unidentifiable as police advising people to leave. Also present was 1818 Ian Caswell from NPIOU.
There is a lot of information that has been gathered by many from CCC including Fitwatchers, Legal Observers and Photographers. The intention of CCC is to gather all such evidence and present it in a more formal style to the Fit-watch blog and thus to other Fitwatchers
Thus far this is a preliminary report and will be continued as soon as we centralise information.