Thursday, December 03, 2009

There's a bit of a scandal going on out BC way. As if spending billions of dollars of taxpayers' money uselessly on the 'Corporate Olympics' wasn't scandalous enough. According to a press report (see later in this blog) Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham admitted that protesters coming from mainland were driven to the October 30 protest in Victoria by an undercover police officer posing as a bus driver. One wonders about the guy's qualifications to drive a bus, and one also wonders whether he obeyed all traffic laws during the trip, including those that say even the police must use their signal lights to turn or change lanes. Old habits can die hard. One more example of an overly paranoid police force spying on its citizens ? Spending money just because it's there ? You be the judge. Here's the press release response to the incident from the Olympic Resistance Network.
Release: ORN Responds to Police Allegations of Undercover Cop Driving Protest Bus to Victoria:‏
December 3, Vancouver Coast Salish Territories - According to reports by 24 hours news, on Monday Victoria Police chief Jamie Graham alleged that an undercover police officer was driving a bus organized by the Olympic Resistance Network to transport protesters to Victoria for an anti-Olympic Torch Relay protest on October 30. Graham stated "You knew that the protesters weren't that organized(Is renting a bus "disorganized"? -Molly ) when on the ferry on the way over they all rented a bus, they all came over on a bus, and there was a cop driving the bus."
In response, the Olympic Resistance Network is making the following statement:
"This latest revelation of police infiltration and surveillance reinforces the notion of an Olympic police state that anti-Olympic activists have long been warning about. Infiltration tactics, in conjunction with ongoing harassment of activists and a $1 billion police,security and military budget including high-tech equipment like the LRAD sonic gun and close circuit TV cameras, have created a chilly climate for the right to protest and the protection of basic civil liberties. Our organization and our activities are public. With allies in Victoria we organized a successful and disruptive protest with over 400 people. While the police will increase their surveillance activities and their attempts to divide us, we are seeing increasing resistance across the country with additional protests planned against the Torch relay in Quebec and Ontario.
We encourage more residents who are enraged and affected by the impact of the Games to get involved and to express their right to dissent against this five ring circus of oppression."
Here, from Global TV BC, is an article originally published in the Vancouver Sun on the matter. What strikes Molly the most is the "offhand" way in which this admission was delivered. More on that later.
Victoria cop infiltrated anti-Games group:
Civil liberties advocates unhappy with police, call undercover officer’s actions ‘invasive’
Darah Hansen,
VANCOUVER SUN: Thursday, December 3, 2009
Victoria police chief Jamie Graham was lying low Wednesday after reportedly disclosing that an undercover police officer, posing as a bus driver, had infiltrated a group of anti-Olympic activists on their way to a rally.

“You knew that the protesters weren’t that organized when on the ferry on the way over they all rented a bus … and there was a cop driving the bus,” Graham told an amused crowd attending the Vancouver International Security Conference on Monday.

The revelation was made public Wednesday in an audio recording posted on the 24 Hours newspaper website.

The voice on the recording is attributed to Graham.

In it, the chief can be heard saying that police initiated the undercover operation in an effort to quell potential violence stemming from a planned anti-Olympic rally in Victoria.

About 300 people converged on the city’s core Oct. 30 in a coordinated effort to delay the Olympic torch relay from its scheduled arrival at the legislature.

Very few arrests were made.

“Everyone left upset that not very much action happened,” Graham said. ( Is "everybody" the protesters or the police ?-Molly )

He declined The Vancouver Sun’s request for an interview Wednesday.

Victoria police did not issue a denial of the report. Spokesman Sgt. Grant Hamilton responded via e-mail that the chief “will not be commenting any further on this.”

The story broke the same day that a new Olympic watchdog group warned police against planting plain-clothes police officers in protests at the Olympic Games.

The Civil Liberties Advisory Committee (CLAC), in a media statement, said that plain-clothes officers should be allowed to observe protests but not participate in the demonstrations.

Tensions between Olympic resisters and security forces — including municipal police, RCMP and national security personnel — have been building as the Games approach.

Protesters have made repeated claims that police are stalking their movements to deter them from participating in events that are considered to be anti-Olympics.

“They’re treading so close to intimidation,” Olympics critic Chris Shaw said of police tactics, which have included officers questioning family and friends of people involved in Olympics resistance.

Police say they are just doing their job. By keeping tabs on protesters, officers can better maintain public safety while ensuring protest messages are still heard.

“We will use all lawful tools at our disposal to ensure we all enjoy safe and secure Games,” said Staff Sgt. Mike Coté of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

CLAC spokesman Michael Byers said that having an undercover policeman drive a protest bus isn’t a clear violation of civil liberties because it falls into a “grey zone” between police officers observing and participating in protests.

“I’m not happy about the [bus] incident, but I don’t regard it as fundamentally in contravention of our recommendations,” Byers said.

Meanwhile, David Eby of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said news of the undercover operation will likely be unwelcome among activists who already feel threatened by police leading up to the Games.

“It makes it very difficult for police and activists to have a constructive relationship with each other when activists know that they can’t even book a bus without potentially engaging a police officer in the middle of their planning,” he said.

Eby called the police decision to place an undercover officer among the protest group “invasive.”

“This is not al-Qaida,” he said. “This is a group of activists whose most serious threat they present is potentially delayed traffic.”

Coté said no one from the ISU was present to hear Graham’s remarks and so he was unable to confirm the accuracy of reported statements. ( I smell male cow manure here. Nobody from the security unit was present at the security conference ? Come on now ! What exactly were they doing ? Keeping their appointments with their audiologists perhaps. They seem to have a bad problem with their hearing.- Molly )

Coté said that generally, “we do not comment on specific investigative techniques that we may or may not be using.”

The ISU’s portion of the $900-million Olympic security budget is just over $490 million.
With files from Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun
So what can you make of this ? Molly has already reprinted an article, originally published at the Nanaimo based Porkupine Blog about how it is a distinct possibility that any violence that could happen at such demonstrations just might be at the instigation of the police themselves, especially undercover infiltrators. Even though there will always be some idiots who get their jollies from riots, it is a proven fact that police agents have been caught in the past attempting to initiate violence. The Montibello Summit stands as a recent example. The Olympic Resistance Network is insistent that it is a public group, and their activities bear this out fully. See the numerous reports I have published here at Molly's Blog on the resistance to the 2010 Olympics.
So what are the possibilities ? Let's count them out. Note that, from the above article Chief Jamie Graham has been "laying low" about his admission. One wonders if his political superiors haven't been twisting his ears hard.
A) The statement was made deliberately in order to intimidate people who might protest the Olympics. Highly unlikely. The various police forces involved in spying on the anti-Olympic protesters have made all sorts of much more visible moves, moves that have been far more intimidating. One doubts that this extra fillip had to be added to the salad. The security services have made it quite plain that they don't give a "number 2" about how visible some of their efforts are. This is partially because they want to cover their collective ass against any future charges that might result from any illegal actions on their part. It's mostly because what they have done so far, in public at least, really doesn't require any secrecy at all. See the complaints in the press release from the Olympic Resistance Network.
B)Chief Graham is a braggart who happened to find himself speaking at a conference attended by the "big boys", and he wanted to highlight the efforts of his own minuscule force. VERY likely. He could probably have kept his self-congratulations to boring everyday details about the efforts of the Victoria City Police, but he felt the need to sex up his speech with a "ha-ha" about how the other side was deceived. Apparently the comment did get a laugh (see the article above). In addition to being a braggart Graham may also be a fool. The two conditions are not mutually exclusive. God knows we have enough of such people here in 'anarchyworld' who are often referred to as the "summit hoppers".
C) The guy was drunk as a skunk and maybe has been in that condition for years. Note to organizers of any conference. Do not, I repeat do not, allow any speakers to get liquored before they climb the stage. One wonders what sort of hangover the guy had as his betters in the political world came down on him. This possibility is not as self obvious as B) above, but it shouldn't be discounted. The liquid anaesthetic does flow freely at most conferences, whatever they are about. Next time I suggest a cash bar rather than free hooch.
D)A combination of B and C above. Who knows. One wonders how the Chief is going to wiggle his way out of this one beyond issuing "no comments". After a decent interval I see early retirement in this man's future.

1 comment:

Larry Gambone said...

Note how the Sun article claims that there were "some arrests" at the Victoria protest, when in fact there were none, according to the Victoria papers.

Earlier I was willing to entertain the idea that the guy who "lost his marbles" might have been an innocent or a lone nut, but with this new revelation agent provocateur seems more likely.