Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Police spies in environmental movements

In a retrospective piece by Kate Anderson, of the Guardian. The fact is now apparent, that the government does not trust it people. Nonviolent movements, which simply ask questions are becoming questioned themselves- by police. Groups which pose no threat, no danger and no risk, except offering options to ease the fears of climate change and a national conscience. Such scrutiny is shameful, why devote efforts to such groups, who seek nothing but self and national improvement? In a long line of government subversion, this is fairly harmless, except that it betrays the trust of the community and proves only the necessity to remove the ineffective and detrimental police departments from every country, state, province and municipality.

The other striking feature of this article is that it marks a trend of extended under-cover operations. This means that theoretically any 'friend' may be an enemy, any source of trust may lead to betrayal. This message is contrary to the human necessity of community, companionship and solidarity. The options are simple, we can either disband police and be prepared to step up and respond to our neighbors, we can choose non-violence as a tactic and deal with police sabotage as it comes.

"Planting police spies among green activists was an attempt to derail a growing social movement – and it has failed I knew Officer A well – or rather, I thought I knew her well – and I had met Mark Kennedy on many occasions. On a personal level I feel real sadness about the loss of someone I considered a friend. On a political level this raises some questions of real concern to everyone.

In a combined 11 years of undercover operations, the evidence gathered by these officers led to not one arrest or conviction. In fact, the operation had the opposite effect, causing the collapse of one trial relating to the activist protest at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in October 2009. Undercover operations are normally aimed at securing evidence for trial and arrest, but these operations were not so much about the transgression of laws but more an attempt to disrupt and demoralise a nascent and growing social movement.

The other justification for the use of undercover officers is to protect the public. The police often use the politics of fear to justify their behaviour and no doubt protect budgets. Hugh Orde was in full fear mode on Newsnight, pushing the idea that the Ratcliffe action would have shut down the national grid and deprived hospitals of electricity. He must know that the grid can deal with big outages and that even if it failed all hospitals have back up systems. It is Eon that would have suffered, not the public. Climate camp actions, such as the Drax train blockade, were typically aimed at highly profitable corporations, and tried to avoid confrontation with the public. It's fair to say, then, that this is a move beyond political policing. We are now seeing a publicly funded police force used as a national private security service for large corporations.

The effectiveness of these officers is also questionable. Not only did they fail to secure any convictions, they failed to significantly undermine the movement. A commitment to decentralisation and challenging hierarchy has made the grassroots climate movement resistant to infiltration. A decapitation strategy doesn't really work on a movement that's all heads. In addition, a politics that sought to engage people in mass open actions meant secrets couldn't be exposed because often there were none."


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