Police actions & (counter-)surveillance at the climate camp; FITwatch

See also other reports of direct actions & police violence.

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Eye in the sky surveillance at climate camp
CCTV on cherry picker at camp
Thurs 16th - a police helicopter drones overhead circling the camp while since the morning a large crane / cherry picker has had cctv cameras mounted on it (& possibly directional microphone) and hoisted high over the camp.

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Pics of violent arrests this afternoon at around half three / quarter to four near A4 - Sat 19th (climate camp)
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Newly deployed riot police start chasing two people down the street, pushing them over and tackling them to the ground then violently restraining them.

good news!

the 2 people in those shots were arrested, but let go once they were out of site of the cameras. The police were well aware that no offences had actually been committed, and they would not be able to get some bollocks like public disorder to stick with legally clued up climate campers.

There is nothing fake about the the pics tho - they were dealt with comprehensively. The first had a shield thrown at him and the second was not tackled but pushed into a wire fence then stood on by three officers. Neither of the detained are unused to confrontation, they are seen covering their heads due to physical and verbal threats that were being made by the officers. Both had cuts and bruising but nothing serious - unlike the camper trampled by a riot horse.

They aren't at all surprised or intimidated by the arrests - the police did the usual schizo act:
"DON'T FUCKING MOVE!" "GET THAT ARM BEHIND YOU!" "MOVE AND I'LL BATTER YOU"
....

"You alright mate? Any injuries? We're just here to help Mr --, as long as you protest legally we're all for it. Help us to help you. Ok mate, on you go."

- Which unsurprisingly has not changed their feelings towards Her Majesty's finest.

Solidarity with all those arrested and injured - we still made it!

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Political Apartheid: Policing of the Climate Camp Protests.

"If you go over there, I will facilitate your lawful protest" said one of the commanding coppers outside the action that took place at Agrexco on Saturday afternoon.

His idea of a "lawful protest" became clear very quickly as his officers pushed us into a kettle and held us there until people were taken out one by one and searched under Section One of PACE, before being sent on our merry way. FIT photographers were on hand to photograph each individual as they were searched. That 40 campers managed to get off site and to a known target in the middle of the heavily policed area is something else that FIT will have a hard time explaining to the powers that be.

Unsurprisingly the main stream media have all but ignored the widespread (ab)use of Stop and Search powers that Climate campers were subjected to over the duration of the camp.
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The widespread use of stop and search is of course extremely dodgy, and it was also apparent that widespread abuse of the power had been sanctioned at a high level.

When searched on Sunday morning the officer (XB 125) failed to give me his name, and then proceeded to hand a half finished witness statement that I had in my pocket to DM167, who proceeded to "look after it" by reading it. I pointed out that it was beyond their powers to read my personal documents as they were searching me for items associated with criminal damage, and a flimsy piece of paper just wasn't good enough for any kind of criminal damage, but DM167 ignored me and read the whole thing.

Other searched I witnessed or heard of, included:

-Numerous people people outside the main gate being forcibly detained after their searches were over, until the FIT photographer arrived to take their picture. Physical force was used to make people comply with being photographed, despite the fact that nothing had been uncovered in the search.

-People being arrested when they were searched under Section One of PACE, taken to a van and 'de-arrested' once they had given their names and addresses. (Hint: Tell them you will only give it to the custody seargeant - that creates more of a dilemna for them)

An activist well known to FIT being held up for ages whilst they checked the IMEI number of her phone - (remember the basis of the search is suspicion of being equipped to commit crinimal damage). Whilst she was on her enforced wait, a plain clothes used the opportunity to make threats to her. She was with her toddler at the time.

-Activists waiting for the release of the arrested from the Agrexco action being searched a number of times in the carpark outside West Drayton nick on Sarurday night. When they went into the nearby pub cops followed them in, searched them and then got the pub to bar them.

-An activist had a FITWATCH spotter card confiscated because "it might be used in the commission of a crime" - ie the cop thought it might be used to single out an individual cop at a demo.

Needless to say, the searches did nothing to prevent the actions - the majority of campers left in blocks which weren't searched, and in any case people knew when searches were happening and when they weren't, so (just as Palestinians do with their equivalent - moving Israeli roadblocks,) any one intent on getting something in or out of the camp just had to wait for the right moment. Furthermore, few if any arrests were for criminal damage, and certainly it would have been less than 1% of those on camp (even if the number on camp was only 1000 as claimed by the cops).

For many of the locals this will have been their first experience of the political apartheid that protestors experience on a constant basis at the hands of the Met. Any reassurance they might have had about the PACE Code of Practice, will have been dispelled as they witnessed the heavy handed use of the tactic which was quickly backed up by the use of physical force if anyone objected to the abuse of the process.

Being stopped and searched can be a very disempowering experience, where your most personal space is trashed and your (alleged) rights are completely suspended, while the cops surround you, threaten you and abuse their powers. One person I spoke to was keen that complaints should be made about the individual officers who abused their powers, so that they were investigated, and the complaint would be left to sit on their file. If too many complaints sat on a coppers file, it could affect promotion prospects in the future. It may also be of assistance to future victims of these mindless, order following thugs in uniform. And ultimately it may make cops more inclined to do things by the book in the future.

Hopefully a happier lesson could be learnt from the events of Tuesday night, when an invasion of cops was repelled by campers. It is clear that if we show each other solidarity and work together, we can more effectively take on, and beat the repressive tactics of cops. And boy doesn't it feel good when we do!

FITWATCH activities received widespread support on site, as FIT teams were subjected to the very same tactics that they have themselves employed on activists for years. On the whole the tactic used was to get up close and personal, and to make every possible attempt to obstruct the civilian cameramen from taking their intrusive and abusive up close and personal photos of people doing nothing illegal. FIT teams were forced to focus their attention on those obstructing the camermen, leaving others alone to get on with what they were doing. Seeing a FIT cameraman drop his long lens was a very satisfying moment for me, as was each time I saw him with his shorter alternative lens. If the tactic is to be more effective, then plans for actions and meetings where FIT are likely to be present should include plans to tackle and neutralise the FIT teams. It only takes a very small group to keep a team busy for hours!

The usual bullshit was used to smear campaigners, with talk of "violent activists linked to J18", and "criminal elements invading the camp" "a secret group called 'The Elders'" and "suspect bomb packages" and the media lapped it up. At the end of the camp, when arrests and violence by protestors can be seen to have been much lower than the normal events in many towns on a Saturday night, the media continued to talk of protestors "scuffling with police" and "clashes between protestors and the police", even when such events were really protestors being attacked by heavily tooled thugs, as is even evidenced by the medias very own photographs. And journos wonder why we don't trust them and didn't allow them to freely roam the site!

Commander Joe Kaye also made the claim that "If we frustrate them, then they will go in for confrontation because their aim is anti-state. We are talking about anarchists." If you aren't an anarchist then presumably you just lie down for the kicking when the cops go out of their way to frustrate your so-called rights according to his feeble thought process.

At the end of the day, the bully boy tactics were frustrated and failed. As one of the first to arrive at the BAA building yesterday, I am pretty certain that they simply didn't expect protestors to arrive there, and there was a mad flurry to form lines around the building as we sat down to picnic on the verge right outside the building. Getting there was simple enough, we just hung back when they went in to form the kettle, and then strolled back down the road as cop attention was diverted by clowns making a break for it over the fields. There were so few cops, that when they tried searching after our picnic, they missed a whole group of new arrivals running to the car park, and ended up being forced to abandon the searches in order to deal with other stuff

For a long time protests in Britain, and especially in London have been unpleasant experiences, with the cops calling the shots most of the time, and searches and petty arrests being the order of the day. Those who have gone to express their anger and disgust at the greedy militaristic fuckwittery of the ruling classes and corporations, have ended up being boxed in, abused and crapped over by sheer force of numbers and a willingness on the part of cops to abuse their powers, whilst being cheered on by the journos.

Whilst Commander Kaye's policing operation went out of its way to give even more people reasons to hate the state, it seems that his cops were not up the task of totally repressing the activities of the camps, and once again the Met was shown to be less than useless when they are confronted with a field. We won some victories at the camp, and we should build on those in the near future. We are developing new tactics, and must combine these with our experience of the usual tactics to render them even more ineffectual in the future.
(1)http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2007380547,00.html - photo by Getty images

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Traffic Jams on M4 as Police Set up Checkpoints

Police set up checkpoints on both carriageways of the M4 yesterday (Saturday 18th August) causing traffic tailbacks throughout the evening. The disruption was covered in the Guardian and other news outlets.

The motorway was closed down to one lane, first in one direction and then the other, as police scanned vehicle number plates with cameras mounted inside vans. Once past the number plate recognition cameras, vehicles were funnelled down to one lane where Police could flag down the vehicles they wanted to stop. Such roadside setups are used to catch out drivers without insurance or up to date vehicle tax or MOTs. They can also be used to check registrations against lists of stolen vehicles, or vehicles on watch lists.

Similar technology was deployed against protestors last year at the Camp for Cliamte Action which took place in the shadow of the Drax coal fired power station in Yorkshire.

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Policing the Police at Climate Camp - a personal account of FIT Watch
FIT @ climate camp
FIT Watch was set up a couple of months ago to oppose and monitor the activities of the Forward Intelligence Teams. These are cops who routinely harass and intimidate protesters (for full background see www.fitwatch.blogspot.com). Whilst we’ve had a presence at a couple of public meetings, Climate Camp has been our first opportunity to practice our tactics in a protest situation
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And it’s been working. FIT are being made to feel uncomfortable. They’ve been forced into a reactive situation and it is empowering because we have seized the initiative.

FIT Watch can be done by anyone and can be as passive or as confrontational as you wish. Here are some tactics we have found to be effective:

1. Holding large banners in front of photographers. This is particularly effective with double sheets on sticks which can block a camera from a distance. This is the least confrontational way of blocking photography.
2. Taking photos of them. They really don’t like this but it isn’t illegal. With any photos it’s always good to either try and get the cop’s number in the shot, or note it down.
3. Following the FIT. Pick a team and tail them. Turn their tactics onto them – everything time they send a text message look over their shoulder, listen to their phone conversations, look at what they’re writing in their notebooks.
4. Watch out for group huddles, especially with senior officers and go and unobtrusively stand by them. This disrupts their briefings and there’s always the possibility you might learn some useful information.
5. Upload any information gathered about the FIT to www.fitwatch.blogspot.com or email to defycops@yahoo.co.uk
6. Put yourself physically in the way of the camera men by standing constantly in front of the camera and constantly shadowing them. This has been the most confrontational tactic used so far and has therefore been the one people have been arrested for. However it has also been possible to do this without arrest.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: ANY ACTION INVOLVING THIS LEVEL OF PROXIMITY TO FIT TEAMS MEANS THEY WILL TRY AND ENGAGE YOU IN CONVERSATION. DO NOT ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS.

Two people have been arrested for Obstructing the police in the course of their duty this week. They were both charged and pleaded not guilty. Any witnesses should contact defycops@yahoo.co.uk

There have been many rumours as to why the FIT teams made their incursions into camp on Tuesday night. Some people say it was a response to being pissed off with FIT Watch, others that it was a test to see how we would react. Another theory is they were trying to kick something off as shown by the presence off vans of TSG and ambulances.

However they weren’t expecting the strong response from the camp and violently pushed, kicked and hit people. A combination of strength of numbers and people willing to push them back forced them off site and people felt empowered by this victory. However it was not the non violent victory reported in many places. People rightly acted in self defence and we would not have got them off site if we had simply walked towards them with our hands in the air as has been described in some places. Some people did raise their hands, but this was only after the cops had backed off the site.

FIT Watch is working, but we need more people. The next big event is DSEi and it’d be great if people carry on the FIT Watch tactics.

defycops@yahoo.co.uk
http://www.fitwatch.blogspot.com

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interview with fitwatch at climate camp

earlier this week, a fitwatch supporter was arrested for 'obstructing a police officer in the course of their duty'. but what exactly is the duty of the harrassing, invasive forward intelligence team photgraphers and officers? do they get off on watching campers peeing?

Video fitwatch mp4 - video/mp4 1.3M

Video fitwatch wmv - video/x-ms-wmv 1.5M

emily was arrested on the obstruction charge, and although it's an offence attracting a maximum one month sentence, she was unnecessarily held in custody overnight. at uxbridge court the next day she had bail conditions set banning her from the climate camp site from 2pm.

at 2 pm she gave this interview outside the camp about the reason and aims of fitwatch and about her arrest and bail conditions.

the film is just one minute long and is available in two formats.

mp4 can be viewed using the free videolan vlc player available for free download from the videolan website for all platforms. this player handles lots of different vid codec formats and is worth checking out.
wmv is available if you really must use corporate software

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Climate camp and terrorism
BAA night-time occupation 10
It should come as no surprise that police are applying draconian anti-terrorism ´legislation´ to combat eco-protestors at the Climate Camp. For the authorities networks of dissent are the real terrorists.

To understand why police, corporate spokespeople and politicians should attempt to conflate protest with terrorism means really getting to grips with what constitutes terrorism for those in authority.

What comes to mind when you think of terrorism? Expolosions, mutilated bodies, distraught bystanders? Yet these have been ever-present when we witness airstrikes and hear accounts of the behaviour of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. If terrorism was all about violence then this years airstrikes by the US on Somalia could not fail to be categorised as such.

But none of this is terrorism because it does not threaten the worlds leaders and their interested followers. By extension, what threatens the status quo is not just violent attacks by the likes of Al-q´eeda but the breaking of criminal as opposed to moral law and civil disobedience.

It is worth focusing on civil disobedience for a moment or two. What makes civil disobedience effective is its rejection of disciplines imposed by authorities. It is useful to think of the exercise of power in three stages- a)informal, uncodified rules or other mechanisms of control, (for example some cinemas ban the consumption of food that has not been purchased from the cinemas own outlets, b) formal rules codified in law such as those that protect property c) when these fail to obtain the desired results then force is applied. It is the informal rules that civil disobedience frequently targets. For example Heathrow is a maze of informal injunctions. Inside the airport passengers must submit to various procedures even those that seem ridiculous such as only carrying 100ml of fluid onboard flights as if it would make any difference if you were carrying 125ml. The airport is a fantastic example of the Panopticon where you are watched and ordered throughout by seemingly innocuous petty rules that exist to disrupt masses of people in order to exert control. This helps to explain why the camp itself is so unpopular with the authorities. It is a mass which is ordered primarily from within which creates an autonomous space where plots can be hatched.

For those seeking to prevent the violent forms of terrorism it is essential to maintain control through surveillance of the airport and its outer perimeter. The authorities explain patiently time and time again that anti-terrorist legislation is for our own good- they are seeking to protect freedom not to curtail it. (Interestingly this was a stance Hitler took by claiming to be protecting the German people from a Jewish led conspiracy to enslave them). The camp is they claim an obstacle to such protection- it obstructs their ability to detect terrorists or to respond to terrorist events once they happen. Perhaps they suggest terrorists are hiding within the camp quietly subverting naive and idealistic protestors to Jihad. Or perhaps even the protestors are formulating a new ideological threat to freedom- proposals for some kind of eco-caliphate ruled by George Monbiot rebranded as a druid martyr come back from the dead.

Yet none of these claims stand up to the merest scrutiny. Hence the bemusement of campers and sections of the ´liberal media´at the smears. Yet things become clearer once we interpret anti-terrorism legislation as a response to the supposed threat to hierarchical forms of order posed by network forms of organisation. it is theme networks of dissent that threaten the dominant story of social strength and progress through economic growth.

Of course the figurehead is Al-qéeda and its impossibly dense maze of interconnected units and affiliates united by a counter-discourse of Anti-western sentiment. Yet the anti-terrorist response must be extended to other networked forms of opposition that reject the dominant paradigm through civil disobedience and disrepect for private property rights. First the ´loonies´are targeted such as animal rights protestors, next will be the environmentalists, then the human rights activists.

The extent to which anti-terrorist powers given to the police and others can be described as laws is limited. Many have had little debate in parliament and they are frequently delivered in response to consultations with senior police officers. They seem in reality more like anti-legislation masking the use of arbitrary coercion - a clear retreat from UK law as it has developed over the centuries and a desperate attempt to ´correct´ dissenters before a final resort to violence.

This is all good news really. The ridiculous camera mounted on a crane overlooking the camp shows how scared they are. It is amusing to watch the spectacle of the camp running alongside daily accounts of crashing stock markets- somewhat reminiscent of a J G Ballard novel.

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Press release from Climate Camp Media: Police attack protesters
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For Immediate Release

UPDATE: Police attack protesters’ march towards BAA
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Riot police armed with truncheons backed by mounted police waded into protesters slowly marching from the Camp for Climate Action towards BAA headquarters. The march was part of the day of mass action which had been publicly announced the yesterday. On-site medics have treated at least five people who sustained head injuries and one person who had been trodden on by a police horse.
battered on way to BAA
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The fact that the majority of the corporate media had been covering the children’s demonstration at a separate location meant that the police could act with relative impunity in violently assaulting the protestors. One reporter from Channel 5 who was present at the attack said that they had been kicked by the police.

Despite the heavy handed attack, around three hundred people managed to reach the BAA headquarters and proceeded to occupy the entrance and car park, stringing up banners denouncing the company. Dozens of police vans and lines of riot police cordoned off the area and prevented hundreds more from entering the site, effectively blockading the site on behalf of the Camp for Climate Action.

Protestors had targeted the BAA headquarters in order to highlight the corporate profiteers of climate change rather than choosing to disrupt the passengers at Heathrow. As promised by the camp, the mass action made no attempt to disrupt Heathrow.

In a separate action earlier on in the day, three teenaged women, aged 14, 15 and 16 occupied a roof at the BAA-owned Heathrow Business Academy opposite the BAA headquarters and dropped a banner that said “Make Planes History.” Their protest continues.

There have been 6 confirmed arrests and 6 more that are currently unconfirmed today. Today’s arrests bring the total of confirmed Climate Camp-related arrests to 56.

ENDS

Notes to editor:

The teenagers who dropped the banner are currently on the roof of the Heathrow Business Academy and can be contacted on 079821 04537

For further enquiries, contact the camp media team on 0777 286 1099 or 07858 177 178

For a photo of the teenagers on the roof, contact Mike on 07966 372 890

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Late afternoon march to BAA - Cops go crazy

When the group left from the rear of the camp, at first mounted police tried to ride into people but soon backed off and allowed them to stream across the field. As the people approched the opposite side of the field there were many vans of riot police arriving in adjacent streets and deploying to meet the protestors. There were even van loads of police getting changed into their riot gear on the M4 motorway before scrambling up the bank. As protestors moved along the fence or tried to climb out of the field the police attacked them with batons and shields. I saw several hit, punched, repeatedly thrown to the ground, pushed into ditches, and sworn at. Over the next 15 minutes more and more riot police kept arriving (something like 100), many running into the field following mounted police that had galloped into a gap in the fence. Police prevented media from entering the field and a high hedge prevented them filming the scenes in the field.

The police officers were clearly hyped up after days of sitting around waiting for this demonstration. They lashed out against peaceful demonstrators without cause or provocation. Many protestors managed to keep skirting the field trying to get away from the chasing riot police, althouth two groups got surrounded and detained for several hours. Many managed to get over to the BAA building for the demonstration there.

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FIT Watch Spotter Card
FITwatch spotter card (climate camp)
Here is the spotter card used by FIT Watch at climate camp. We had several requests for the coloured original, so here it is.

Hopefully we should be producing a new one for DSEi with some of the lovely photos we've been taking at camp. If anyone has any photos they think would be good to be included, please email them to us at defycops@yahoo.co.uk

defycops@yahoo.co.uk
http://www.fitwatch.blogspot.com