By Xeni Jardin at 8:22 am Mon, Oct 31, 2011
Video Link: "Copwatch@Occupy Oakland: Beware of Police Infiltrators and Provocateurs."
A.C.A.B. ? At least most of them.
It’s one thing to read that the police infiltrate movements like #OccupyWallStreet but it’s another to have video of it. It’s time people learn that the idea of the friendly neighborhood policeman is a myth. The police are not your friend.
They are your friend when you ignore your rights and let them do whatever they want.
One would hope that this finally will drive home to some people that just because the police were there does not mean the people were breaking the law.
I don’t know which I dislike more : OPD’s violent tactics or revolutionary glory hounds like Josh Wolf.
Give Wolf credit for at least having the courage of his convictions: he did seven months in jail for refusing – and continuing to refuse – to hand over his video to the police. Whatever you may imagine his motivations to be, that suggests that he’s at least more than a fair weather protester.
To play devil’s advocate, I can imagine police concerned about their eventual efforts to disperse the crowd wanting to have some inside information on the overall mood/tenor of the protest. If you know you’ll be attempting to clear the area at such-and-such a time, you might be curious as to whether there was discussion of violently resisting police action, or some sort of “last stand” mentality. It seems much more likely they’d attempt to influence the protesters to fragment and flee in the face of police dispersal efforts rather than act as agents provocateurs–which would lead to more violence against their own officers and blisteringly negative press attention.
There’s a wide gap between having under cover cops and agent provocateurs. Obviously we should stay on the lookout for that kind of stuff but no one has presented evidence of agent provocateurs in Oakland.
Step one in being an agent provocateur is being an undercover cop. Oh look, step one, all set.
If the police look at a well written sign and only see a club with some posterboard attached, well, I think it’s fair to see undercover cops as potential troublemakers.
It seems much more likely they’d attempt to influence the protesters to fragment and flee in the face of police dispersal efforts rather than act as agents provocateurs
It would seem so only if you ignored historical evidence.
which would lead to more violence against their own officers and blisteringly negative press attention.
There you are definitely mistaken. The bad press they are getting is because of violence committed by police officers, in the absence of violence on the part of protesters that they could legitimately claim to be responding to.
That’s the whole point of provocateurs – when the violent response by the cops is already scheduled, you need to make sure they have some violence to respond to at the appropriate time. Otherwise you’d end up paying a bunch of overtime for the riot squad to sit around not rioting, which would be a fiscally irresponsible waste of taxpayer funds.
EDITED to add:
All that said, I agree that it would also be actually irresponsible (as opposed to sarcastic-irresponsible) for the cops not to have some plainclothes officers in the occupy camps, chatting with people, getting a feel for possible dangers, etc. It’s just sadly historically naive to assume that that’s all they were actually doing.
Well, the cops in the video were seen out of uniform and THEN in uniform, meaning they were likely uniformed at the time of the confrontation–who would go back and try to be an agent provocateur AFTER everyone saw you in uniform? While I’m sure that in the past incidents like this happened–cops helping in inciting violent confrontation I mean–I’m just not sure there’s enough evidence here to merit that conclusion. Combine that with the fact that very little mention was made of proteser violence at Oakland and I think we just have some cops feeling around to get the vibe secretly, not trying to provoke any clashes. They likely knew they would have to clear the area later.
Except many of the fine upstanding officers wear masks as part of their riot gear.
It seems much more likely they’d attempt to influence the protesters to fragment and flee in the face of police dispersal efforts
Back in the ’60s and ’70s, the cops who infiltrated our antiwar-protest planning meetings were always the first to suggest violence, to urge us to burn things down, or blow things up, or “fuck up the pigs”.
At the rallies, they were always the ones who started throwing bottles or rocks, long before anyone else (including the on-duty cops) got violent.
In fact, that’s how we identified most of them – some noob that nobody knew from anywhere would show up at a meeting and start spouting almost comically violent “revolutionary rhetoric”. And we’d note them down as good candidates to be sent off on long, convoluted ‘errands’ come the day of action .
But, hey, maybe you have some personal experience that convinces you that today’s cops are different – that they’re kinder, gentler souls who’d rather prevent violence than foment it as an excuse to justify a harsh police response.
Feel free to share those experiences here.
Well, I had a lovely lunch the day before yesterday with witty, charming, and good-looking young man who is in the employ of the SFPD. He seemed to be all in favor of the prevention of violence.
But of course he is just one man, and not the entirety of the organization. And there’s probably an element of self-selection. He’s the last person you’d find working as an agent provocateur…so he isn’t. Ditto on wanting to break heads.
I don’t know how it works in the US, but I know in the UK a police officer is allowed to refuse to work a protest (etc.) if his own views are a conflict of interest.
What that tells me is that the majority (there’ll still be pressure from bosses) of police officers attending protests likely agree with the opposition – which isn’t a great way to provide balanced policing if you ask me. It actually creates a them VS us situation.
Unfortunately, most police have a hair across the ass of the stick they have up their butt.
Know how I know they police are looking for trouble? Hint: it’s the riot gear and the horses.
Absolutely the cops are infiltrating these protests. If you are in an OCCUPY camp, take a good look around at your fellows. It can be a fun way to pass the time trying to play “spot the cop”.
One thing that always, always concerns the hell out of me with these discussions is the “cops are not your friends” attitude, not because it’s necessarily incorrect, but because there never seems to be a discussion of why they aren’t and what should be done about it.
Thank you for posting this Xeni. I got into a long discussion here with someone called Guy Reader from the UK who didn’t think that Agent Provocateurs were the source of violence and that my call to identify, name and research anyone starting violence was a good idea. I believe it was because he had been involved in violence in a UK riot. His view is that normal people when in a mob being attacked, attack back.
This may be true, but it is not a zero sum equation. Who throws the first bottle? Who encourages violence first? What are their motivations ?(see GlenBlank’s excellent comment above.)
Police departments in various cities talk, they use some of the same tactics and methods. If I lived in Portland and supported Occupy Portland I could do this same kind of video. This is a way to help the Occupy Portland protests. Give the activists AND THE MEDIA COVERING the story this information.
The police will lie and say, “We don’t have undercover operatives” they can be shown the tape. Then they have to move to excuse numver two “It’s to protect the safety of the protesters”
The police will object to this video because it gives the identity of an undercover cop whose might be in danger if he is in another undercover sting. The MSM might agree and refuse to run the story which would amplify the identity. These might be smart decisions, but on the other hand, the Oakland police decided to “burn” an undercover cop’s identify in this fashion so they need to deal with it if his real ID comes out.
Good solid work whoever tracked and traced these guys. Well done!
Good eye and all, but there is a HUGE difference between an undercover cop and an agent provocateur.
As others have mentioned, there are many valid reasons for undercover cops to be present during these gatherings. Please come back when you find some relevant footage like inciting violence, police brutality, meaningful infiltration and influence, etc.
There is a HUGE difference, of course, but there is also a HUGE similarity.
Both are undercover cops, lying to your face about who they are and what their aims are.
Those are personal fouls. Red card.
Also, can you show me evidence of lawlessness in these camps that justifies the police:civillian ratio in these areas? What insidious evil are the undercover officers finding that they can’f find anywhere else in the City on their REGULAR shifts?
Can you show me acts of violence other than those in response to police escalation of peaceful, legal, protected speech?
First you justify that degree of policing, then we can talk about how okay it is for the police to lie to you for your own good.
Actually, “having thrown a rock” is not a HUGE difference, it is a very small difference. And it’s all that’s required to turn a UC into an agent provocateur.
Hey what are those cops’ names? Of course my interest is purely anthroponomastic in nature.
Looks like maybe “F. Shavies” on one uniform? Any relation to the police officer “Fred Shavies” from this article and video: Roughed-up cameraman sues Oakland police?
A former cameraman for KGO-TV has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Oakland Police Department, accusing several officers of attacking him and breaking his camera as he tried to film outside a hospital on the day four officers were killed last year.
The video shows off-duty Officer Fred Shavies running toward Laughlin and yelling, “Hey! Get the f– out of here!” Shavies then knocked Laughlin against a parked car, breaking the camera’s viewfinder, according to the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
That’s exactly the kind of cop to use as an agent provocateur. He has demonstrated an enthusiasm for violence and is a proven “team player” during extra-judicial activities. You want someone to go undercover and stir things up, you send your loyalist thugs.
The terms “undercover police” and “undercover cops” are being used a lot here. When I was a kid, growing up in the Land of the Free ™, we learned about the big, bad enemy states, with their repressive and evil bureaucratic nightmare machines, and the name for this element was “secret police.” The more benign terms, used in the US, usually were applied to the courageous officer investigating grisly organized crime syndicates, etc… whereas the context of “secret police” was the person investigating the neighborhood people dabbling in dangerous western ideas like Democracy and Freedom of Assembly, etc…
Please attend to using the correct terminology.
I think “undercover cop” is more accurate, frankly. They’re known police officers, after all, and don’t belong to any special secret police squad. I seriously doubt a “secret police officer” would be seen at the same protest in plainclothes THEN in uniform if their agenda was to keep their presence in the area a complete secret. I think it’s important to differentiate between an entire system of secret police–which functions more like a domestic intelligence service if we take the Soviet and East German secret police as a model–and normal law enforcement intelligence gathering. It’s a bit spooky, I admit, but not the same.
That_Anonymous_Coward accurately points out that it’s difficult to recognize the officers when they’re wearing riot gear, but then again projectile injuries to the face are relatively common if a protest breakup turns ugly I’d imagine. They are also likely wearing their uniforms with names and badge numbers, too. It doesn’t really speak to an agenda of disguising the officers involved.
I respect police when they protect me. When they infiltrate peaceful protests and throw bottles and insight violence, I suddenly feel different. Perhaps it’s time to get violent ourselves. I’m tired of all this BS. If you are going to play dirty, then how about we play dirty. The 1% has all the power and connections. It’s time to show the powers that be what an animal pushed into a corner behaves like.
omigosh! we have an agent provocateur! ;)
Canadian cops doing the agents provocateur thing:
They never pick someone who looks/dresses like an actual protester. Cops stick out as inhuman.
Heh, we had the same thing in Barcelona with the 15M (indignados) movement. In a totally non-violent demonstration, police infiltrates created violence, threw things at the police… and got outed, surrounded and contained by the demonstrators. The infiltrators got totally caught on camera until the police came to escort them out … (put it through Google translator, it’s all in Spanish)
Funny – Spain, Canada, Us – the cops spend a lot more on gym membership than the protesters do.
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