CANADIAN ANARCHIST MOVEMENT-VANCOUVER:
THEY SPY WITH THEIR LITTLE EYE...THE ANTI-OLYMPICS MOVEMENT:
The following is from the Olympics Resistance Network out BC way. Molly has blogged on this subject before, particularly on the case of the old war veteran who opposes the Olympics and who was visited by the secret police. Needless to say he loved the PR. It seems that the 'Joint Intelligence (Sic) Group' has been busy justifying its existence by extensive harassment of BC locals who are opposed to the 2010 Winter Olympics coming up early nest year. I say "justifying their existence" very advisedly. The people whom they have chosen to spy upon and harass would hardly be culpable of more than minor vandalism-in a police description-, even if their wildest dreams came true. Meanwhile, there is little (no ????) indication that they are paying any attention at all to the Abdul Al-Hazred Brigade(an in joke for HP Lovecraft fans) of Al Queda who plan to call the wrath of Cthulthu down on the festival in the service of jihad. But never mind that bogeyman. The Islamist fascists may or may not be interested. What is for sure is that the gangland wars over the drug trade will be continuing out Vancouver way when the athletes and tourists roll into town. A few smashed windows when police attempt to disperse an otherwise peaceful demonstration or an egg or two on a politician's shirt is actually quite minor. Let the tourists be caught in the crossfire as gangs a and b fight out their financial stakes in the drug trade on public streets...well that's a different matter. Even if no innocent bystanders are killed you can bet that the international coverage would be such that every peasant in Hunan and Eritrea would know all about it.
Can be say "misallocation of resources" ? But, anyways, here's the story.
(Community notice and press release linked at: http://olympicresistance.net/) \
June 8, 2009, Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver) Community Notice: Targeting of Anti-Olympics Movement Approximately 15 VISU Joint Intelligence Group Visits in 48 hours.
Between the afternoon of June 3 till June 5, 2009, approximately 15 anti-Olympics activists were visited by Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit (VISU) Joint Intelligence Group officers. Surprise visits by plain-clothes officers included home visits, work place visits, persistent phone calls, and intimidation of family members and neighbours. The patterns of visits reveal that VISU has clearly been spying on activists and making note of daily routines. In one case, an organizer was stopped on the road near the skytrain he uses daily on his way to work and followed into the packed station where VISU very publicly identified themselves and him. In some cases, the officers would not leave when activists refused to speak with them and demanded that they leave.
None of the activists approached agreed to these one on one "discussions"with VISU on Olympic security-related issues. Experience shows that such private meetings are not about dialogue, but are aimed at intimidation, controlling the visibility of protesters, and gathering intelligence on community activities.
Since 2007, police & intelligence agencies have targeted anti-2010 Olympics opposition as a ’security threat’ to the Games. This has included media articles based on reports from CSIS and police specifically mentioning Indigenous and other social movements in Vancouver. Police have publicly stated their need to increase surveillance of anti-2010 resistance. Beginning in 2008, CSIS and police also began attempts to recruit informants and gather information through interviews with people organizing anti-2010 resistance, or with people indirectly associated with our movement.
The Olympic Resistance Network denounces the continued harassment of activists and is preparing a legal letter to VISU to cease such intimidating visitations. These latest tactics are further evidence of the $ 1 billion surveillance and security apparatus, which sociologist David Lyon has dubbed “the Surveillance Games” with over 13,000 RCMP, military & other security personnel, as well as joint US-Canada military & North American Aerospace Defence Command operations.
We note that some of us and our allies are made more vulnerable by disability, lack of immigration status, prior records, and parenting or elder care responsibilities, or face greater repression as Indigenous defenders or criminalization for being poor. Rather than allowing the state to exploit our vulnerabilities or fears or allow isolation to overcome us, we strive to protect each other and build greater solidarities in the face of this ever increasing surveillance and intimidation.
Finally, we advise anybody contacted by police for an interview about their concerns regarding the Games that the best response is to just say “NO.” You are under no legal obligation to talk with either CSIS or the police (this also applies if you happen to be arrested and they want to talk to you then). Nor can CSIS or police enter your residence (unless they have a warrant) or detain you (unless you are under arrest).
Security agencies cast a wide net when collecting intelligence. Often times it is because someone is active in the particular movement being targeted, but not always. It includes situations where it is believed that divisions may be exploited (between individuals/groups), to discourage people from becoming more active (intimidation), or when a person has a close relationship with the target of surveillance (including family). Sometimes, agents have no idea how a person might respond to an interview request and take a chance they’ll co-operate.
Some people think it might be fun or “interesting” to meet with CSIS or police, to play ‘Spy Vs.Spy’. This is a bad idea. Intelligence agents are trained in interrogation techniques and often have large amounts of intelligence at their disposal based on extensive surveillance. Not only are these agencies seeking info to certain ‘criminal acts’, they are also gathering psychological profiles of people. When it comes to dealing with state intelligence and police agencies, where information provided could target individuals or groups for repression, this is a dangerous game to play.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to say NO and contact others and let them know if you’ve been approached by either police or intelligence agents. Please contact the Olympic Resistance Network with this information about details of the incidents, any comments made by the agent/officer(s), the agents/officers names and contact information (you can ask for a business card), and if possible, a photo of the agent/officer(s).
To contact the Olympic Resistance Network please email firstname.lastname@example.org . We are happy to meet in person and your privacy and wishes will be respected.
In solidarity and struggle,
Olympic Resistance Network
*** For previous ORN communique What to do when the Police and Spies come knocking: http://web.resist.ca/~orn/blog/?p=32
Well I guess that Molly is gonna become the Queen of advise that will never be taken. I really have no expectations that the security apparatus will take my advise to pursue targets other than the lefties that oppose the Games, targets that have much greater potential to give the whole affair a black eye. Never mind that their asses are on the line, and if things screw up royally via either the jihadists or the ordinary criminals that their concentration on the lefties will be held up to public contempt. One wonders how they'll like their new postings in Cambridge Bay and Eureka ? Nope, they gotta do their busy work. I'm sure that there are police officers who see the sense of what I am saying, but they are King Canutes in the face of the bureaucratic imperatives of their organizations.
But then there is "my own side". I also doubt that the following advise would ever be taken. First of all, nothing, I repeat NOTHING, that will be done in protest against the 2010 Olympics will actually stop the games. The actions will, no doubt, be described as "direct action", but that is a grievous misnomer. The phrase "direct action" doesn't refer to simple militance. Often it is the precise opposite. What it refers to is undertaking action without mediation, political or otherwise, that actually has at least the ghost of a chance of succeeding. When anarchists set up an Infoshop THAT is "direct action". When they engage in street theatre, no matter how gung-ho, THAT is one of three things...petition (with a brick rather than a ballot), publicity or protest (thePPPs). It has NO direct effect on the situation in question, unless, of course, it has that ghost of a chance.
Be that as it may, what would I suggest ? The first thing to note is that the police/protesters game is an accumulating positive feedback circle. The police move in their (irrational) attempts to spy on and intimidate the protesters. The protesters respond with paranoia. The police respond with increasing suspicion and surveillance. The protesters get more paranoid. And so on and so forth. Each side gets certain benefits from this. The police get justification of their actions, and not incidentally more funding. The protesters get an illusion of the significance of their actions. The two partners in the dance feed off each other.
So what do I propose instead for 'my side' ? First of all accept the reality of what you are doing. You will not stop the games. Accept that what you are trying to do is educate the public(publicity) and (I hope) nothing more, especially the doomed "petition" idea that depends upon the idea that politicians actually have a "conscience" that is not tied with an umbilical cord to public opinion polls. I would also suggest that the idea of "protest" should be modified and seen only in the light of "publicity". There are many ways to express your personal disgust with a given initiative such as the Winter Olympics. I would suggest taking a page from previous campaigns of civil disobedience in North America, whether for civil rights or against war. Any protest using non-violent civil disobedience will register your opposition just as thoroughly as playing at riot will.
So...here's the choice you have. You can accept the fact that the effectiveness of your protest will be limited or you can live in a world of fantasy that you are actually a match for the state. If you chose the former you can either play some game of existential purity, fight the cops and lose. Or...you can see that your actions are meant to influence people outside of your own social group. In the latter case you can decide between presenting an image of futile violent protest or one of (perhaps equally futile) non-violent resistance with all its consequences. You have a choice between being seen as being "out-of-control rioters" who fail or "noble idealists" who also fail. Looking at it from the "publicity" point of view the choice should be obvious.
Looking at it from that perspective the advise that the Olympic Resistance Network gives for individuals is obviously true. Playing patty-cake down at the police station is meant for people who are over 65 years of age and who have been politically active for 45 of them, and, most importantly, have absolutely no other way to waste their time, including bathroom breaks and taking a nap. But, for the organization, why not issue "police press" tickets to any agent who any individual encounters. Such a ticket would entitle the holder to a hassle free seat at any public educational event that the movement might put on, preferably at least four hours long and infinitely boring. Any supporters would be issued a booklet of such tickets, with the appropriate information on them that they are "cordially invited" to attend such information meetings and that this is the proper response to their attempts to question.
Yeah, I know that this is a little "different", but if you are looking for PR it might be a way to go. How about making the tickets into badges that could be worn at the events ? If there was a cover charge the holders of the badges could be exempted. Yes, very different, but it breaks up the ritual and is worth considering. Like I said, however, I'm the Queen of advise that will never be taken.