Keeping FIT (Watch)

Interesting article in the New Statesman, by way of Unity blog.

Hours before Boris Johnson took the platform outside City Hall to proclaim his victory as the next mayor of London, anarchists and anti-fascist activists assembled along the Queen’s Walk to protest the elections and in a bid to blockade Richard Barnbrook and other members of the British National Party from approaching City Hall.

Protestors trickled in down the path from Tower Bridge, dispersing among the crowds of camera-toting tourists and their toddlers, high school volleyball teams on school trips, students and local workers. But what was planned as a protest against the elections and a blockade of the BNP became little more than a demonstration of power by the London Metropolitan Police and the now-notorious Forward Intelligence Team (FIT)…

As a response to police surveillance, activists in Merry Ol’ England have established a blog, FIT Watch:

Who are FIT Watch?

Fit Watch are a fluid group of people who have come together to resist and oppose the tactics of the Forward Intelligence Teams (cops who harass protesters).

We aim to act in solidarity with each other, supporting campaigns by being at meetings and protests, making it harder for the police to film and gather intelligence.

We hope to encourage a culture where their presence is not acceptable and to act when we see people being followed and harassed.

We aim to make it harder for them to photograph and intimidate us by getting in the way of their cameras, taking photos and publishing as much information as we can about them on our blog.

Of course, the state isn’t the only institution worried about dissent. The corporate sector is too. Recently, the campaign group Plane Stupid was targeted by C2i International: “C2i’s Technical Team was hand-picked from Special Operations at New Scotland Yard and were responsible for writing the accepted guidelines now used for all counter-measure examinations by governments worldwide. C2i’s team is discrete, highly experienced, and can be deployed at very short notice.” Well, not that discrete in this case. In a press release, the group stated that:

Oxford-educated Toby Kendall, 24, an employee of aerospace security consultants C2i International, infiltrated and spied on Heathrow campaign groups across London for a year. He was immediately suspected and following a Plane Stupid investigation he was last week confronted and exposed in a Japanese restaurant by the Plane Stupid activist Tamsin Omond – one of those who recently scaled Parliament. Heathrow owner BAA admitted to this morning’s Times newspaper that it has been in contact with C2i, having previously claimed it had no involvement in the spying operation.

Toby’s exposure follows on from a profile of another spy in Elle magazine; “Anna”, employed by the FBI in the United States to infiltrate anti-capitalist, radical environmental and animal rights groups. Like Toby, “Anna” was recruited as a young college student. In Australia, NSW police intelligence (?) made a similar approach to a student in Sydney, Daniel Jones, offering to drop charges against him stemming from the 2006 protests against the G20 in exchange for spying for the organisation. (See also : Tricksy ASIO wants the nasssty anarchisssts, June 26, 2007). More recently, New Zealand-based state coal company Solid Energy, by way of Thomspon & Clark Investigations, attempted to recruit another activist, Rob Gilchrist: Gavin Clark “asked Gilchrist to work undercover for his private investigation company, Thompson and Clark Investigations (TCIL). The target: spying on environment groups and other community groups for his company’s corporate clients.”

Gilchrist was shocked and insulted. He was a long-term supporter of many of the groups he was being asked to betray. But what made it most weird is that this was an exact rerun of earlier spying on environment, peace and animal rights groups uncovered by the Sunday Star-Times in May last year.

The Star-Times story revolved around an informer, Ryan Paterson-Rouse, who was planted by the same Gavin Clark inside the small environment group Save Happy Valley. The spying was being paid for by the state-owned coal company Solid Energy, whose plans for a massive new open-cast coal mine are opposed by Save Happy Valley.

Why the interest in this small environmental protest group? The answer is that Solid Energy is planning a dramatic increase in coal mining and coal exports to countries such as China, right at a time of growing world concern about climate change. Solid Energy’s response has been a vigorous public relations campaign to justify continued coal use, which last year included going as far as hiring private investigators to infiltrate and help it out-manoeuvre its environmental critics…

~ Nicky Hager, Private investigators still digging on West Coast, Sunday Star Times, April 20, 2008

See also : Spies exposed in local activist groups (May 27, 2007); Secretive Industries Must Be Exposed After Spying (June 17, 2007), Anarchia | Revealed: spying on Anarchists (October 3, 2006), slackbastard | Revealed: spying on Greens, Michael Bachelard, The Age, October 2, 2006 (“MULTINATIONAL packaging company Amcor stacked the Labor Party, infiltrated environment groups, sent people pretending to be greenies to forest protests and paid bribes overseas to secure its supply of native hardwood in the 1990s…”) | Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

Funny video!

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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