City of London police class Occupy movement with terrorists such as Al Qaeda

A leaked memo from the City of London Police (the special police force maintained by the administrators of London's financial district, who are elected by the corporations with offices in its boundaries) includes the Occupy movement in a list of "terrorist/domestic extremist" organisations that pose a threat to the City's businesses. Other groups on the list include FARC and Al Qaeda.

It is likely that activists aspire to identify other locations to occupy, especially those they identify with capitalism.

Intelligence suggests that urban explorers are holding a discussion at the Sun Street squat. This may lead to an increase in urban exploration activity at abandoned or high profile sites in the capital.

Police include Occupy movement on ‘terror’ list (Thanks, carstenagger!)


  1. Those urban explorers pose no real threat. Just send them in the direction of some fine Victorian brickwork and they’ll be thoroughly distracted.

  2. Isn’t this an accurate summary?  Nothing in there talks about crack downs, the Occupy section talks about “protesters” and “activists” and specifically mentions their peaceful nature.

    It also reminds officers they will likely be filmed/streamed online (and doesn’t say anything about trying to stop this).

    The main complaint seems to be other groups on this page are much worse.  Well boo hoo, occupy belong a list of unusual things likely to cause a surprise disruption to public order because that’s specifically what they set out to do.  

    You’ll notice the protests haven’t dissolved in clouds of tear gas and riot shield as in some other countries, so maybe a tiny bit of praise for the police might be in order, rather than scraping the bottom of the barrel of things to complain about.

    1. the Occupy section talks about “protesters” and “activists” and specifically mentions their peaceful nature.

      Then why is it on a list labeled ‘Terrorism/extremism update’?

      1. Because of the extremist views?  Occupy wants an extreme change in the political and economic management of the country (world?), and wants to do it outside of normal political channels (k.e. by occupying public places until their demands are met).  Ergo, extremist.

        1. @boingboing-2df06710a4133692cfe559afe4ea4ac0:disqus  – you’ve been brainwashed.  Politics have been taken over by the dorkporations since WWI and sovereignty needs to be reclaimed by the people.  Though of course the power no longer lies in the people’s hands, and those that have it will not give it up willingly.  Paraphrazing Robert Anton Wilson, “Rich people use governments to kill people, and if people fight back they are labelled terrorists.”

          1. PJDK hasn’t been brainwashed.  S/he makes a fair point (similar to Jard below) that  the story “a group of people who aim to disrupt the City have been put on a list of groups who aim to disrupt the City” isn’t particularly surprising, or unreasonable for “the special police force maintained by the administrators of London’s financial district” to claim.

            That’s completely independent from the following statements:
            – (a) I agree with Occupy’s aims;
            – (b) Occupy is a violent movement like Al Qaeda.

            I happen to agree with (a) and disagree with (b). From the looks of the Memo, the City Police disagree with (a) but also disagree with (b).

            But I don’t think there’s any doubt that Occupy is a “threat to business” in the City, since that’s their direct aim.

          2. Everything you’ve just said reinforces the extremist point.  The population is brainwashed, the political system is rotten to the core, and you more or less finished with a statement that said violence will probably be necessary to fix it. 

            There’s also a lot of confusion here, being extreme doesn’t make it wrong.

        2. They’re going outside of normal political channels because the normal political channels are demonstratedly corrupt and poisoned by corporate interference. Between the money needed to lobby for what you want and the revolving door between high-level government posts and large corporations, the power balance has shifted far away from the voting citizen. When you have no voice, it’s illogical to suggest you speak to your oppressors.

          1. Is peaceful civil disobedience even “outside of normal channels?”  I mean, America has such a strong history of peaceful protest that I’d say it might as well BE part of the normal channels.

        3. Yes, wanting a group of people who destroyed the lives of millions for short term personal gain to face some sort of accountability IS extremist, isn’t it?

          Ergo: You hold an idiotic position.

        4. Assembling is neither extreme nor extremist.

          Unless assembling to enjoy a footie is revolutionary?

          It’s the ideas the establishment fears. Not the actions.

  3. What is surprising about this? They are a group of people who pose a threat to business activity who have been put on a list of people who pose a threat to business activity. 

    They clearly pose less of a threat than some other groups, and in my mind not really that much of a threat. I imagine AQ are probably more likely to attack something in London than FARC so should the latter thus also feel disgusted that they are on the same list?Are you really suggesting that only people of equal threat should be on a list?

    1. The problem here is that by putting them on the same list as terrorists it potentially frees the police to take more stringent measures. In an ideal world what you say is true, the police are just highlighting a group that may cause trouble. However, classifying them in this manner gives them the freedom to curtail protestors’ rights more dramatically.

      1. It might potentially cause lots of things, it might potentally let the police force them to sit on the naughty step int he future who knows, but lets deal in facts. For the purposes of assessing risk of crime a group of people who pose a threat to business activity have been put on a list of people who pose a threat to business activity and nothing more.If the police then use this to brutalise them or otherwise impinge on their freedoms then that’s worthy of debate and very concerning, till then this is an utter non-story.

  4. No question. Sitting on the grass and requesting ethical beahviour by government and companies is EXACTLY like flying airplanes into buildings and planting bombs and shooting people in the head. There just isn’t a difference… I mean, that grass probably has a sign saying “keep off the grass”!

    1. shorter version of the briefing: In lieu of actual terrorists to fight with your expensive training and military grade weapons, fate has provided us with live hippies to punch!

  5. Terrorism versus the status quo, and the 1%, yes. They’re terrified that their solid platinum bar stools are going to be taken away and they won’t get to continue living high off the hog on a sea of unwashed serfs.

  6. Is it just me or does it sound like the City of London Police are part of the timeline of Shadowrun, in the time just before the Governments of the world allowed MegaCorporations to become extraterritorial entities?

    1. The government of the City of London is weird, but that’s because the City is a weird place in general. 300,000 people work there, but the resident population (who also get to vote) is only 9,000. The corporate vote (derived from a formula based on the number of employees) is 24,000. Note that any business in the city can vote- so Goldman Sachs has a bunch of votes, but AFAIK the guy selling candy at the Tube station also gets a “corporate vote”.  Of course, the Corporation only has the powers of a London Borough, plus the right to deny entry to the reigning monarch!
      The City Police are less strange than most parts of it- they are subject to the same national oversight (IPCC/HMIC) as other forces. They also have a Fraud Squad that advises all the other forces on such matters, and the country’s best-trained bicycle patrolmen (who I think have appeared on boingboing before).

        1. The reality is you’ll get squashed into a tube and spat out on a slightly grubby street somewhere to work in an urban jungle.

          The novelty wares off almost instantly.

          1. and I’ll wish I worked in New York or Tokyo or Seattle, but I’ll be in London having a good time while I do it

  7. If I’m going to be brutally honest, that thing where someone yells something out, and a crowd of people half heartedly repeat it, and they go on with it for way too long, like five paragraphs when it should only be a sentence, that thing really kind of annoys me a bit.

    And when you weigh up the real threat Al Quaeda currently pose to the west, that probably does put them in the same ballpark.

    Funny story from an Australian comedian whose family moved here from the middle east. His gran liked to watch recordings of this famous middle eastern chef, and one day it was on in the background while he was around. He didn’t pay much attention, until he noticed this chef start saying ‘al quaeda’, quite a lot. He finally got freaked out enough to ask his gran, and she said ‘He’s baking a cheesecake. He’s talking about making the base!’

  8. Oh man, this whole “threat to businesses” thing is great!  Now that we’ve widened the scope to include protesting against corporate socialism– if you oppose corporate control of the government, you pose a threat to business, therefore you are a terrorist!  Beautiful.

    1. Exactly. The Occupy movement is NO threat to business, or to boards that take responsibility for their actions, lose or win. It’s no threat to the market. It’s a threat to people who should have faced the music in 2008, and who depend more on their influence with the State, grants, monopolies and privilege,  rather than on business savvy and ability to better serve the buying public for less money.

  9. For the existing power structure, the Occupy movement is a much greater existential threat than Al Qaeda or FARC will ever be. I’m not a bit surprised that they see this movement as much of a threat as those other groups. After all, if Occupy succeeds a lot of those at the top stand to lose a great deal…

  10. But this is preferable to being considered no threat to capitalism/corporations surely. Where’s the kudos in that? But no, we should thank the police for doing a good job then? Why the surprise?

  11. The Occupy movement seem largely peaceful and to behave responsibly. However just as in the Animal Rights movement it is possible that there are mad fellow travelers who literally are terrorists. The Police have to take that threat seriously whilst trying to maintain their role as consensus enforcers of the Law. So I think its pointless getting overexcited about this piece of paper. What counts is whether they are using unprovoked violence like smashing people in the face with batons for no good reason.  If the Law being used against Occupy seems unfair then we need to change the law, not blame the Police.

    It is a reasonable question to ask whether the language being used to communicate the risks is being used to encourage violence by the Police against the protestors but this does not seem to be the case.

    1. However just as in the Animal Rights movement it is possible that there are mad fellow travelers who literally are terrorists.

      Policing imaginary threats: priceless. (Actually quite expensive.)

  12. This is exactly the danger of the new “terrorists” provisions in the latest bill that looks likely to pass. If they make the same kind of judgement call here in the U.S. that they made in London, they now (or will soon) have the power to make all of the protestors just straight up disappear, no trial, no due process of any kind.

    I have seen nothing in recent history that gives me reason to think that the government will exercise any kind of restraint in this area. Hell, even explicitly peaceful protests have the potential to become violent given the right circumstances (the right circumstances all too often being a few well placed “less-than-lethal” rounds, or batons to the face) . That potential alone can be used as an excuse to lump the protestors in with terrorists. Then it’s bye-bye protestors, and bye-bye protests since anyone who supports those “terrorists” are by definition terrorists themselves.

      1. That ‘all of a sudden’ has been going on for decades. In the United States, they attempted to assassinate Judi Bari, they preemptively arrest protesters before major events and hold them several days, they routinely charge organizers with conspiracy, they use pain compliance, they use chemical weapons in ways which can kill or cause permanent injury…

  13. For what it’s worth, I misread your link at the top of the article as “SubmitTERRORator”. Oh, a button specifically for security theater?

  14. That’s interesting because, increasingly, many people across the globe class the United Kingdom with states that hate their own people, such as Syria, Libya or Egypt.  What a coincidence!

  15. USA PATRIOT Sec 802:
    `(5) the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that–

    `(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

    `(B) appear to be intended–

    `(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

    `(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

    `(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

    `(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.’.

  16. Matt Taibbi explains the problem:

    It sounds paranoid and nuts to think that those people might be arrested and whisked away to indefinite, lawyerless detention by the military, but remember: This isn’t about what’s logical, it’s about what’s going on in the brains of people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

    At what point do those luminaries start equating al-Qaeda supporters with, say, radical anti-capitalists in the Occupy movement? What exactly is the difference between such groups in the minds (excuse me, in what passes for the minds) of the people who run this country?

    That difference seems to be getting smaller and smaller all the time, and such niceties as American citizenship and the legal tradition of due process seem to be less and less meaningful to the people who run things in America.

    Here’s another way to ask the question: On which side of the societal fence do you think the McCains and Grahams would put, say, an unemployed American plumber who refused an eviction order from Bank of America and holed up with his family in his Florida house, refusing to move? Would Graham/McCain consider that person to have the same rights as Lloyd Blankfein, or is that plumber closer, in their eyes, to being like the young Muslim who throws a rock at a U.S. embassy in Yemen?

    Nafeez Ahmed, military analyst and author of “The Crisis of Civilization” is even more direct. Speaking of his native Britain, he says:

    Similarly, in the UK since 2004 the government has held extraordinary emergency powers granted under the little-known Civil Contingencies Act. The Act paves the way for the rise of totalitarian state power. Under the powers enabled by the Act, the government can unilaterally decree a state of emergency at its own discretion without public consultation or parliamentary approval. Once a state of emergency is declared, all
    manner of powers can come into play. Ministers can introduce new laws, “emergency regulations”, by Royal Prerogative without recourse to parliament. These laws can include anything from destroying or confiscating property, banning protests and public assemblies of any kind, instituting curfews, prohibiting travel, deploying the army on British soil, sealing off whole cities, shutting down websites, censoring media, and so on. Worse still, the state could classify whatever it wants as new criminal offences.

    The problem is that the Act has nothing to do with responding to real emergencies. According to the journal of the British Association of Public Safety Communication Officials, the government has “no clear direction or dedicated budget and a complete lack of Act-specific assessment” relevant to actually preparing the country for concrete national emergencies or disaster scenarios. They rightly ask, “If the Government is truly committed to protecting the nation, why are Ministers not using the powers provided by the Civil Contingencies Act to proactively monitor the true state of preparedness across the country?”

  17. For non-London readers, it’s worth understanding that the City of London police are not the same as the regular London cops, the Metropolitan police, ‘the Met’. The City police is a separate force, responsible to the Corporation of the City of London, which as AlexG55 has pointed out is a deeply weird and astonishingly undemocratic local authority. Behind a cloak of ancient tradition and pageantry, the Corporation is hugely wealthy in its own right, is elected almost exclusively by and for the financial interests in ‘the Square Mile’ and quietly wields enormous power and influence. The City police are renowned for being extraordinarily boneheaded, even by police standards. Like their bosses they cling to tradition; I believe for instance they remain the only UK police force to maintain a strict minimum height limit (a minimum IQ limit could be more useful); their most cherished traditions include the old ultra-violence and the closing of ranks to cover up the aftermath. To be honest, it’s no surprise that the City police can discern no difference between (mostly) young, modern, idealistic, democratic legal protestors with a point to make and religiously fundamental medievalist death-fixated fanatics.

    1. Any chance of a citation for any of that.  I worked in the city (in a low paid bonus free job, alas) for a year and a half and saw precisely no ultra violence.

      You’ll also note that Occupy London has been pretty much left alone by the cops.

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