Friday, February 13, 2009

The following is from the English language section of the Icelandic anarchist site Aftaka. The revolt in Iceland which toppled that country's conservative government is presently in a "holding pattern" as the new leftist coalition tries to govern in a way more beneficial to the average person than their rivals. Time will tell if they will do any better.
Meanwhile, as reported earlier on this blog the Icelandic police have mounted what is actually a truly bizarre publicity campaign to try and recover the image that they lost because of their violent response to the protesters. In sum they send their "community relations" officers from youth centre to youth centre, forcing young people to listen to their excuses and justifying their actions to a captive audience. To say the least this sort of campaign has great potential for "blowback". The police target protesters in general and anarchists specifically in their propaganda. Here's the story from Aftaka. The following has been slightly edited for English grammar.

“Social Center Workers Have No Opinion” :
The police are now traveling between teen social centers with an image and propaganda campaign following the criticism the police has received relating to the protests that toppled the government. Aftaka is covering the story and you can read our first coverage by clicking here. We now continue and this time we contacted a staff member of one of the social centers in Kópavogur (a town close to Reykjavík) and asked for answers to a few questions regarding the case.
Q: Can you briefly tell us what happened that evening at the social center you work at?
“There was an open evening at the social center like it usually is twice a week. In the middle of the evening two uniformed police officers arrived, a man and a woman and started herding the kids from the games they where playing and into the common room.

A lot of the kids were not interested in listening to the cops but did not have the choice of playing games until after the police had left. I thought they were maybe there for a drug prevention talk or something like that, which the police sometimes hosts on evenings like this. I was very surprised when I learned why they were there and what they were going to discuss with the kids. I was even more surprised when I heard they were at times telling lies and using direct propaganda. I could not keep quiet any longer and started asking uncomfortable questions that they had difficulty answering. When the police left the time was over; no times for games because we had to close the place”
Q:Do you now who planned the visit, who initiated it?

“That was rather unclear when I tried to get answers. Originally my boss said she had voiced this idea to the project manager for youth recreational activities and was therefore behind this but later they spoke as if it had been the project manager for youth recreational activities in cooperation with the police who had been behind this.”
Q: Was the police visit discussed with the staff beforehand?
“No, I was very angry about this and when I asked why it had not been discussed my boss told me it was because the visit was supposed to be a surprise. I ask myself why.”

Q:What were your questions to the police? What was the response from the police to your critical questions? And what were your co-workers and bosses reactions?

“When I was offended by how dramatic they were about the fact that two police officers had to go to the emergency room because of injuries “caused by protesters” as they put it, I simply asked if they knew how many protesters had to go to the emergency room injured by the police. They then turned the discussion to the police not being able to injure people, the tools they used did not injure people and that pepper spray was just a little uncomfortable, like one had been crying for a while.

Later I asked them if they did not find it incredible for the kids to get answers such as “do you really believe that…?” - usually said with a smirk – each time a question arose that concerned the police doing something wrong as if everybody was lying about the police.

The discussion then turned to the 11 year old boy who was arrested and then I asked if they thought it was OK to arrest an 11 year old child”
Q:How did the kids react? Did any of them ask critical questions?

“The kids are 13-16 years old. Some of them had been at the protests and they asked all kinds of questions and protested. As the evening wore on I felt like this was lessening because the police then made light of the person asking by smirking and acting like that person was stupid for believing anything bad about the police.”
Q:What was the aftermath, have you discussed this further with the head of the social center? Did you have any problems because of your behavior?

“At the end of the evening my co-worker judged me for having asked those questions and having had a bad influence on their relationship to and their image of the police, I should just call the police and ask questions then. But my curiosity was of course not the reason I did this. The reason was that I was outraged because of what they were telling the kids

I sent my boss an email right away in which I protested this event. She called me and told me that social center workers should not have opinions and that the kids should not get an image of me as “some crazy protester” as she worded it. The next time I came to work she gave me the phone number of the project manager for youth recreational activities and told me that I had to settle this with her but from now on I had to be aware that my opinions were to be left at home when I came to work.”(But I guess that pro-police opinions are obviously let in the door with no checking them at home-Molly)
Q:Finally, do you know how wide spread this campaign is supposed to be? How many social centers have they been to and how many more will they go to?

“I know that the plan was to go to all the teen social centers in Kópavogur and that they have gone to others, but I don´t know how many.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is Kanata's response to these beautiful youths?