London police's secret "domestic extremist" list includes people who sketch protests

Baroness Jenny Jones, a Green Party councillor, writes in the Guardian about the bizarre smears and tittle-tattle she found about herself in the Metropolitan London Police's secret database of "domestic extremists," such as her tweets from a protest in Trafalgar Square.

Jones is just one of many people who have found themselves placed on the "domestic extremist" watchlist by the Met on the flimsiest of excuses. For example, John Catt, an 89 year old peace and human rights campaigner, is in the database along with a notation about the fact that he sketches demonstrations. The police cast a wide net indeed -- noting, for example, that Green politician Ian Driver organised a meeting in support of marriage equality.

The Met's definition of "domestic extremism" didn't occur in a vacuum. It's part of a wider, more militarised view of dissent and protest in general, reflected around the world in the use of illegal "kettling" tactics against protesters, the deployment of "stingray" surveillance devices used to capture the identities of all attendees at peaceful protests, and other examples of officialdom's pants-wetting terror at the thought of people protesting the decisions made by plutocrats and their tame technocrats.

Flicking through the file I was able to read copies of tweets I had made, a note that I was speaking at a demonstration in Trafalgar Square – even something saying I was the Green party mayoral candidate for London and was worried that I might be kettled on a protest. Most of the information came from public sources. How could it in any way be seen as useful intelligence? This was a complete waste of police time and resources.

As an elected politician who has never been arrested, I was naturally surprised to find I even had a file on this database. But I am not alone. There is a Green party councillor in Kent who was spied on for two years for peacefully and legally protesting about live animal exports. His file even included details of organising a public meeting in support of equal marriage.

There is also John Catt, an 89-year-old from Brighton who campaigns for peace and human rights. He found he had a file on this database which even included descriptions of his appearance ("clean shaven") and his habit of sketching demos. He has since launched legal action against the Met, winning a decision at the court of appeal to have information held on him deleted. A police appeal is due before the supreme court soon.

The Met turned me into a domestic extremist – with tweets and trivia [Jenny Jones/The Guardian]

Notable Replies

  1. The police cast a wide net indeed -- noting, for example, that Green politician Ian Driver organised a meeting in support of marriage equality.

    Clearly the gravest threat to society since interracial marriage.

  2. I don't understand the modern tendency to take actual, precise terms and try to twist their meanings and apply them to absurdly broad pools of topics.

    When anyone and everyone can be termed a "domestic extremist", or an "enemy combatant", or a "militant", or a "terrorist", the terms become meaningless.

    And yet the trend continues, pushed forward largely by governments. Is it some ploy for power, robbing people of linguistic precision and rendering them unable to speak or think effectively about contentious issues? Or is it just human incompetance at work, with idiots in power simply being idiotic?

  3. Kimmo says:

  4. The Toronto Star has been running a series on the mathoms of Canadian police forces and their effects on Police Background Checks done to see if you can have a civilised job or not. Three sets of circumstances arise.

    You hold up a bank, firing wildly into the crowd as lead the police on a merry chase during your getaway. You are caught, tried and convicted. You serve your time, ponder the error of your ways, pay your debt to society and are eventually released. After a certain time has passed you may apply for a pardon and all records of your escapades are erased. You may now re-enter society and aspire to climb to any height through honesty toil.

    Or, you get into a nasty court battle with your psycho, pathological liar boyfriend. The court determines that his accusations of you threatening him are baseless and were simply an attempt to divert the court's attention from his constantly turning your face into hamburger through vicious beatings. You are officially acquitted of all charges and he goes to the slammer for 10 years: eventually to be pardoned - see above. You, however, will never be able to pass a Police Background Check because you are listed in the "pieces of tattle and gossip" national database as having "been accused of assault". There is no procedure for ever erasing anything from this and it is promiscuously shared with every police force, secret or otherwise, on the planet. It would be unwise to attempt any border crossings and of course you can kiss any ideas of being a nurse or fire fighter good bye forever.

    Equally disabling is the case where a neighbour has a few mooney martoonies and phones the police that to say that you are a KGB spy. The cops show up and throw his ass in jail for being drunk and filing a false report. However the false report is now in the national gossip database so see above for the effects on your ability to earn a living. Even better, since you were never in contact with the police or made aware of this incident at all you might spent a few thousand on a training course before trying the, doubtless perfunctory, step of doing the background check. Ha ha! Jokes on you.

    Each case is illustrated with a real-life example.

    Of course no one is ever put on the lists because they annoyed a rich person...

  5. Huh. I've been doing that a while it seems. I could have sworn it was an A, not an E.

    Ah well, that's ignorance for ya. (Or is THAT also an E?) stuck_out_tongue

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