For four years the Cardiff Anarchist Network was infiltrated by an undercover police officer we knew as ‘Marco’. During that time we believe he had a number of key objectives – to gather intelligence and disrupt the activities of CAN; to use the reputation and trust CAN had built up to infiltrate other groups, including a European network of activists; and to stop CAN functioning as a coherent group.
By 2009 suspicions had built up, but Marco had so effectively messed up relationships and trust within the group, that we were not properly sharing or voicing our suspicions. In the autumn of 2009 he hosted a ‘goodbye’ dinner for the group, and announced he was leaving for a job in Corfu. After he left, texts and postcards arrived for some weeks, but then suddenly dried up, without explanation. His British mobile number was not recognised on dialling it and the Greek mobile number he had been using after he left barred incoming calls and texts went undelivered. His social network pages became untouched. Suspicions crystallised, but by now he had completely disappeared.
People who had been associated with CAN and the other groups he had become a part of in Cardiff, such as No Borders and Gwent Anarchists, tried to make it known within activist circles that the man we knew as Marco was an undercover cop. But without definite proof we were urged not to make unfounded allegations.
It was only when news broke on Mark Kennedy and Lynn Watson that there seemed an opportunity to establish the truth for certain. Following our leads, on the 14th January 2011 the Guardian obtained confirmation that he was indeed a serving police officer. We don’t know exactly how this was done, but believe that confirmation came directly from ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers. We were not comfortable relying on the mainstream media in this way, but all our previous attempts to properly establish who he was had come to nothing.
Marco worked on us (not with us) for four years. He developed strong personal relationships and some of us feel an enormous personal betrayal. But he also deliberately and systematically set out to damage a movement, and we think it is important that knowledge of what he did, and how he did it, is shared and discussed as widely as possible.
Possibly one of the most damaging things he did was use his CAN ‘credentials’ to infiltrate the anti-G8 Dissent network in Europe. CAN had been actively involved in Dissent and in the planning of mass blockades at the G8 in Stirling in 2005, and some members of CAN were keen to contribute to a wider European network. But CAN was a small group, and very few amongst us had the time and money to travel to international meetings. Marco of course, had plenty of all of these, so it was easy for him to step up and get involved. In at least one case he attended European planning meetings alongside Mark Kennedy. It is likely that their activities seriously damaged the organisation of protest at the G8 in Germany in 2007.
Notably none of the three undercover cops so far uncovered went to the G8 in Russia. Marco was due to attend, but pulled out at the last minute – presumably unable to get agreement from the Russian government, or authorisation to act without their knowledge.
Like Mark Kennedy, Marco also sabotaged environmentalist direct action. In 2007, having managed to get himself included in the planning process for an action against the LNG pipeline terminal at Milford Haven in west Wales, he was able to pass information to the local police that resulted in the arrests of a number of activists. All criminal prosecutions ultimately collapsed, but not before the police had raided houses, including Marco’s own flat, and obtained computer equipment in what seems to have been a massive fishing expedition.
Much of Marco’s time though was spent getting involved in all the normal activities of a political group – meetings, film showings, gatherings and events designed to provoke discussion and debate about radical politics. We believe that in at least one case – the showing of an animal rights film with an accompanying talk – he put on an event purely to gather intelligence on the people who would attend. He was also keen on being involved in projects where there was co-operation with other groups, such as the campaign against the privatisation of military training and the building of a new defence academy at RAF St Athan. Looking back now we can see he was carefully but consistently disruptive. Despite his obvious competence, whenever anything – building contacts, outreach, transport – depended entirely on him, it would come to nothing.
Damaging the structure of CAN was undoubtedly a key objective. He changed the culture of the organisation, encouraging a lot of drinking, gossip and back-stabbing, and trivialised and ran down any attempt made by anyone in the group to achieve objectives. He clearly aimed to separate and isolate certain people from the group and from each other, and subtly exaggerated political and personal differences, telling lies to both ‘sides’ to create distrust and ill-feeling. In the four years he was in Cardiff a strong, cohesive and active group had all-but disintegrated. Marco left after anarchist meetings in the city stopped being held.
Reading this, you’d be forgiven for wondering why the hell it took us so long to suss him out, and why we weren’t more sceptical and less trusting. Marco had no obviously apparent life outside activism. We never met his family or his supposed mates who shared his passion for rock music, although he would at times claim to be away at gigs out of town. He told us he had no wife and/or kids. His house was fairly spartan and his job as a truck driver also allowed him an excuse to be away for prolonged periods without arousing suspicion. Also, despite a stated desire to be ‘where the action was’ he was very reluctant to get his hands dirty by being an active part of direct action or confrontation with the police. These things all together should have been enough to at least get us asking questions.
We may well have been a bit naive, particularly in assuming that we weren’t important enough to be infiltrated. And the man we knew as Marco was very good at deflecting suspicions. He was likeable, personally supportive, funny and very useful to have around. He was, like Mark Kennedy, a driver. He took minutes, wrote, edited and distributed newsletters, made banners, and went to the boring meetings no one else could be bothered with. He was able to exploit people’s vulnerabilities to either get close to them, or make them feel isolated and excluded. He was a very good manipulator.
All of us who were involved with Mark Jacobs are reeling with anger, resentment and guilt. Our failure to see through his charade caused great harm to people both here in Cardiff and across Europe. We are aware that Marco was not the only cop operating, and that the fault, particularly on a European scale, is not all ours. But still, we feel a collective responsibility and sense of failure over our part in this.
Having said all that, we need to look forward, and it is important to learn the right lessons from what has happened. We feel strongly that it is important that the movement does not succumb to paranoia and suspicion. Marco worked hard to sow distrust, dislike and suspicion amongst us, and it was allowing him to do that was perhaps our biggest mistake.
We also feel that it is mistake to paint ourselves as powerless in a situation like this, or to seek sympathy in the media as the victims of an unfair and all-powerful state. We can see how this might be tempting for propaganda reasons, or to win the support of mainstream politicians or the liberal press, but it is ultimately a disempowering act. The actions of the police and the UK state in this affair are disgusting, but not surprising. We, as a group and as a movement, were infiltrated and abused because we took, and encouraged others to take, militant action against a string of colossal injustices. Simply put, we took a determined stand against what we saw as wrong, and every time we were proven right. On the abhorrent war in Iraq; the corrupt and immoral arms trade; the injustices meted out in our names by the G8; and the scandals of man-made climate change, we stand by the rightness of our actions. We reject the authority of the state to tell us how, when and where to make our resistance, and we encourage further struggle and dissent. They come at us because we are strong, not because we are weak.
From Upside Down World:
“William Bradley Roland, aka Brad Will, an independent journalist from Indymedia New York went to the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca in 2006. Like many other alternative or independent media producers, Will sought to break the media siege that the mass media had created, which downplayed or reduced the number of people mobilized in the more than five month uprising that shook the state in 2006. This uprising saw an actual number of more than two million people with over 3,000 barricades erected. Thus, on October 27, 2006, while conducting his work, a bullet from state-hired thugs, snatched his life.
“We will never forget compañero Brad because he is in our hearts and in our history, like the other 26 compañeros that were murdered by the state.” expressed Mrs. Carmen Martinez, who prepared for a march and rally that is organized annually by the residents and groups in the Calicanto barricade that remembers Brad Will and demands justice for him and the other 26 other protesters that were killed and who have yet to receive justice. […] “
Read the rest of the article at: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/mexico-archives-79/4549-remembering-brad-will-in-mexico
“In Colombia the 21 day national strike, which enjoyed broad support, was a victory for the farmers movement, after 12 deaths, 4 disappearances, and 485 injured, according to official numbers; they got a law to control seeds suspended, along with subsidies to gas and supplies, to compensate the farmers for their losses, competing with international multinationals brought in the country by free market treaties.
The government and the strike board are currently negotiating new farming and mining laws, along with a revision of 10 free market treaties, trying to compensate or reduce the losses of farmers and miners; in the cities, while the solidarity with the farmers was the spark for the protests the privatization of health care and education brought even more people to the streets.
Facing police repression, and despite the threat of paramilitary violence they got a political victory, paralyzing the country while president Santos saw his popularity fall to an all time low of 24%, which forced him to negotiate.
But even after such demonstration for farmers to oppose mining and oil projects can be a very dangerous activity in this country, Julio farmer and human rights defender from Guayabero, has received dead threats, he believes not only him but everyone else in town is also in danger […]”
“Wojciech Braszczok is a Detective (for now) in the exclusive NYPD Intelligence Division & Counter-Terrorism Bureau, who worked undercover gathering intelligence and keeping tabs on Occupy Wall Street and related protest movements. Within Occupy he went by the name “Albert” or simply “Al.” He was a regular though somewhat quiet presence at OWS meeting and marches, as well as the Occupy Sandy mutual aid relief effort response to Super Storm Sandy last October. Most activists within the Occupy movement familiar with Braszczok described him as more of an acquaintance than a friend or someone that they knew much about. He did attend social gatherings such as birthday parties etc., including one as recently as September.
Braszczok’s double life came to an abrupt end shortly after he participated in a much publicized, and well documented road rage incident in which motor-bikers became involved in a conflict that escalated into a high speed chase and beating of an SUV driver. Braszczok was caught on video punching out the rear window of the SUV and kicking the vehicle. He has since been indicted on riot and criminal mischief charges.
When he wasn’t hanging around Zuccotti Park and the protests that originated there, he spent his time riding motorcycles and trolling the Internet for for women who he photographed in various stages of undress, sometimes with him. One of the ways he attempted to meet women was through an online dating profile. He also tweeted offensive things about women, who he referred to in in one tweet as “fat bitches” and “skinny bitches.” He used the online handle “Evovillen” for twitter but also a variety of other websites including the dating site. It seemed that as “Evovillen” Braszczok mixed personal with professional, sometimes tweeting with individuals with no obvious connection to political activism about clubs and shows and even referring to an NYPD helicopter as “our own.” In one online posting under the same name he talked about being a police officer and having worked on patrol in Long Island City. At other times he followed activists and anarchist groups like In Our Hearts, an anarchist group affiliated with Occupy and supporters of anarchist political prisoner Jeremy Hammond. “Evovillen” tweeted about being at a demonstration in support of Hammond last April and called for others to attend.
Details about the extent to which Braszczok spied on activists and possibly worked to disrupt their efforts are still emerging. He was arrested while undercover during a small Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Grand Central Terminal on August 17, 2012. He and two others who were arrested as well had their charges dropped. The two other individuals filed suits against the arrests as unlawful and won a settlement from the city. Braszczok chose not to sue for what are now obvious reasons.
Braszczok claimed to have gone to Montreal to participate in the student anti-tuition demonstrations there in the Spring of 2012 but that has yet to be confirmed. He did attend solidarity demonstrations in NYC. Officer Braszczok is about 6′ with short dark hair. He is 32 and lives in Ridgewood, Queens.”
Via Will Potter:
Mark “Migs” Neiweem is a prisoner at the maximum security Pontiac Correctional Center who, in addition to the publications and his writings about the prison industrial complex, was also found in possession of anarchist symbols including a “Circle A” and “Circle E” (the latter, which stands for equality, is described in prison reports as representing “class warfare, the 99%”).
“I’ve been doing this work since 1979 and I can’t think of another case where someone has gotten a disciplinary report for something so obviously political as this,” said Alan Mills, who is Neiweem’s lawyer and a professor at Northwestern University.
Neiweem also had documents in his cell from the Anarchist Black Cross, which the Illinois Department of Correction says is “a political organization and openly supports those who have committed illegal activity in furtherance of revolutionary aims.” That’s a menacing way of saying that the group writes letters to prisoners and solicits donations so they can buy food from the prison commissary.
Prison officials spent months investigating Neiweem, combed through his cell, and even used a confidential informant to obtain more information on his anarchist views. According to a disciplinary report dated August 8, 2013, Neiweem was identified by the Intelligence Unit as an anarchist, and the confidential informant reported that he was attempting to recruit other prisoners to “be part of a collective.”
At a disciplinary hearing, at which Neiweem was not allowed to have an attorney present, he was found in violation of two departmental rules: possessing gang symbols, and possessing “written material that presents a serious threat to the safety and security of persons or the facility.”
Neiweem isn’t accused of plotting to harm guards or other prisoners, though; his political beliefs alone are described as a threat.
Read the rest of the article here.
Today hundreds of indigenous peoples representing Brazil’s native communities converged on government buildings in the nation’s capital to decry unprecedented and growing attacks on their constitutional rights and territories. The historic mobilization coincides with the 25th anniversary of the founding of Brazil’s constitution with its groundbreaking affirmation of indigenous rights and aims to preserve these rights in the face of powerful economic interests behind a spate of pending laws seeking access to resources on native territories.
Brazil’s Articulation of Indigenous People’s (APIB) called the mobilizations – staged simultaneously in various cities across the country such as São Paulo, Belém, Rio Branco – to protest the attack against territorial rights of native peoples. Emanating from the Brazilian government and backed by a powerful congressional bloc representing agribusiness known as the bancada ruralista as well as large mining and energy interests, a series of new proposed laws seek to undermine Article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution, which assures the indigenous right to an exclusive and permanent usufruct to resources on their ancestral territories.
“We are here because Congress wants to take our rights and extinguish our people,” said Chief Raoni Metuktire, a legendary Kayapó leader from the Amazon. “This assembly is important because it aims to unite our peoples against this threat.”
Hundreds of planned laws and constitutional amendments targeting the rights of indigenous and traditional communities are under debate in Brazil’s Congress and risk being passed this month before lawmakers go into recess, making this week’s mobilizations both urgent and timely.
Among the proposed changes are Proposed Complementary Law (PLP) 227 which would modify Article 231, eliminating the indigenous right to resources in cases of “relevant public interest,” clearing the way for industrial farming, dam-building, mining, road building and settlement construction on indigenous lands. Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) 215 would roll back the demarcation of new indigenous territories by passing the authority to demarcate lands from the Executive to a Legislative branch that is increasingly hostile to indigenous rights.
“These amendments and new laws that the government wants to pass will destroy indigenous rights enshrined in the Brazilian Constitution and the international treaties of which Brazil is a signatory,” said Maíra Irigaray Castro of Amazon Watch. “If Brazil denies the rights of these traditional populations they risk extinction, something the world cannot afford. These are the guardians of the rainforests for the benefit of all humanity.”
“We’re not going to stand by and watch our territories being stolen, our houses being invaded and our rivers being destroyed,” said Sonia Guajajara, coordinator of APIB. “Rather than calling Congress the house of the people it should be called the house of agribusiness.”
In addition to presiding over this unprecedented assault on indigenous rights, the Rousseff government has demonstrated the worst record of indigenous territorial demarcation since the nation’s dictatorship era. Further undermining the integrity of these territories, the office of her Attorney General proposes Ordinance 303 in order to veto any expansion of demarcated lands while authorizing the construction of roads, energy transmission lines, and military installations within their borders when such projects are deemed relevant to “national security.”
These moves coincide with increasing government backing and finance for projects and industries, exemplified by Brazil’s dam-building boom in the Amazon, that are entirely at odds with indigenous rights.