The men in black: the police contingent
/ agents / provocateurs /
Victor Grossman, writing about the protests during the recent G-8 summit, reconfirms that certain police tactics are world-wide standard procedure against demonstrators (as we had the chance to observe in the recent student unrest here in Greece):
"But something was funny about four members of the black-clad contingent. One of them, possibly the leader of the little group, wore a jacket with the red logo of a music group called 'Slip-Knot,' popular with globalization opponents. This was unusual, since the others avoided any details which would make them easily identifiable on police videos. And then, as the line of cops took up position nearby, ready to end the blockade, it was these four who started picking up stones from between the railroad tracks and lobbing them over towards the police and shouting, 'Get the bulls'! Then one of the other protesters took a good look at the young man with the logo before he had a chance to pull up his bandana mask.
'That's the same fellow who arrested me during a demonstration in Bremen last year!' he cried, and he and his friends made a grab for the four. Two of the four made it to police lines, one disappeared, but they caught the one with the red logo, presumably the leader. They did not treat him exactly gently, it must be admitted, but one of the group organizers took hold of the man, sheltering him from the crowd, and dragged him over and delivered him to the police line -- and safety."
This is the same type of actions that were reported in Genoa (2001):
A moderator of the Black Bloc meetings held in Genoa declarated "All the independent property I saw destroyed was done by police provocateurs and the police were being as confrontational as possible". (US3). Nevertheless, he sums up - among other actions - one which was evidently made by agents under cover (reported below): his group had come later on and unknowingly joined the provocateurs in their action. This supports the thesis that it is difficult - even for Black Bloc members - assess what was done by infiltrated agents...
... While the Black Bloc was involved in the attempt of defending Piazza Rossetti (where the peasants had their stands) and avoid the breaking of the rally (which eventually happened) I personally saw a group of "pseudo-Black Blocs" getting to Piazza Kennedy closely followed by a crew of video-operator. This is not in their style: the Black Bloc does not want to be object of cameras attention during their actions. The pseudo-Black Bloc pretended to destroy bank windows which had already been destroyed the day before.
Besides producing nice pictures of vandalic acts to be stigmatized on the press, the pseudo-Black Blocs were locating themselves in a strategic position: inbetween the advancing police and the rally. For, they were diverting the demonstrators' attention from the real danger. In fact, the police was coming up with the clear intention of attacking the rally, breaking the river of people in two parts - despite the attempt of resistance opposed by few groups, including true Black Blocs...
...In Miami (2003):
Police infiltraitors in Miami were photographed behind police lines during the Miami FTAA protests. There were also reports that some protesters were kidnapped off the streets, and that provocateurs dressed as Black Bloc participants and other demonstrators (with buttons , banners, ect.) used tasers on real demonstrators, and were seen trying to start fights...
... In Prague (2000):
The Citizens' Legal Patrol, or OPH, which had been monitoring and documenting legal rights' violations during the demonstrations surrounding the meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Prague, has revealed materials allegedly pointing to the presence of police provocateurs among protestors. At a press conference on Wednesday, the group presented videos, eye-witness accounts and other materials documenting the violent activities of people who were later allegedly able to easily pass through police blockades upon showing identification. According to the group's spokesman, Marek Vesely, OPH is gathering evidence of such activities and will present it to the Interior Ministry for investigation.
... In Barcelona (2001):
"Reporters saw a group of men and women in masks gathered on the fringes of the demonstration in the park. Some wore earphones, and though carrying sticks they were able to walk freely past police, pull on their masks and position themselves between police and protesters.
"One man in the group grabbed another and pulled him to the ground, and other members of the group began kicking and slugging each other.
"When demonstrators saw what was going on and joined the fight, the police charged into the park. The masked men and women involved in the scuffle walked through the police line and boarded vans.
"A reporter asked one of them if they were police. He at first said yes, and then said no, before walking by police to the vans."
... In Oaxaca (2006):
Demonstrators have appeared on the radio to denounce the presence of “provocateurs” who say have been launching rockets and rocks at police, and trying to burn police buses.
...In Gothenburg (2001):
During actions of the weekend, police continuously escalated violence by attacking demonstrators with dogs and horses unprovoked. Some non-uniformed police provocateurs destroyed private property in order to discredit demonstrators. In Saturday 16th of June a group of masked police armed with submachineguns invaded another school in which people were staying, claiming to search "arms and terrorists" which they never found. Some demonstrators did involved themselves in fighting with police, but vast majority of the demonstrators were calm even when police behavior
was endangering their lives.
... In Gleneagles (2005):
Back on the coach, I found that the nice Scottish woman I had sat next to on the way up to Gleneagles had since turned into a Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown. I told her of something I had witnessed: a group of three people dressed like activists who were huddled round a CB communicating about positions in the field - almost definately police agent provocateurs. In turn she said that a cabbie had told her of having nervously picked up a group of 'scruffies', only to find that all of them had police badges. Given that the police will go to these lengths, protesters will have to show a lot more ingenuity than they have this week if they are to seriously disrupt summits in future.
And pretty much anywhere there is any sort of massive demonstration - a practice that isn't exactly new.