February 20, 2004 12:53 AM   Subscribe

Lost Liberties? Salon has an interesting two part series on the tensions between antiwar protesters and law enforcement. Part 1: "Outlawing dissent: Spying on peace meetings, cracking down on protesters, keeping secret files on innocent people -- how Bush's war on terror has become a war on freedom." Part 2: "A thousand J. Edgar Hoovers: State and local police are taking it upon themselves to investigate antiwar activists -- and in the computer age, the threat to our civil liberties is even greater than it was in Hoover's day." Does Protester = Criminal?
posted by homunculus (2 comments total)
I guess that the presence of spies in any political or not political organization is hardly news, as much as the presence of fomenters and agitators (often recruited among the extremists).

For instace the so called Black Blocs in Genoa managed to do considerable damage both to public and private property ; curiously only a few news outlets "bothered" to draw and depict the distinction between the demonstrators and the the agitators, while other media concentrated their attention to the demi-civil-war zone Genoa become for a few hours with a lot of eye candy fires and tear gas launches and charges.

Obviously no news media cared enough to devote enough attention to the issues that were rised by demonstrators ; that also thanks to some "protest leaders" who were much more interested into organizing riots (I wonder who they work for) to obtain mass media attention , which they indeed managed to obtain in all the wrong ways, for instance by charging police.

Probably the best strategy protesters can employ is PUBLIC passive resistance and civil disobedience
that while being the less glamorous form of demostration is likely to attract public attention, as demostrators are dragged away or, in the "best" case charged by police.

Among the few things learned in Genova is that knowing what are your rights before you're arrested and bringing video cameras, hundreds of them, is a good idea ; during the Genova riots some criminal officiers were identified and their abuse of violence was exposed and publicized ; rumor is some derailed police officer was working with the Black Bloc agitators as well, as some photo suggested. There was also evidence that people involved in police work during the riots was coming directly from experience in the special units (like paratroopers) and chances are, if you want to find a violent psycotic in a group, you'll find one too many among special units.

The most disturbing thing from the articles posted is that somehow protests are being "pushed" into "protest zones" far from were "supporters" are. That's probably the direct result of violence of agitators, which gives the Sekrut Services the excuse that they need to protect both the politican and the public from "riots" that will ensue if protesters meet supporters (or shell I say, the other protesters).

This is insane , it is in the same league of "preventive war" ideology under which the mere suspect that you're going to start a war against us is grounds to attack you in order to -prevent- you from starting a war that you didn't actually start ! Even if in this case protesters are not physically attacked, they're marginalized and taken away from the political scene by pushing them in a "safe zone" which servers more then one purporse

1) keep the protest away from docile mass media cameras
2) protect the "innocent" supporters from attacks of the evil "protesters" (false distinction, as both the groups are supporters of different point of views)
3) protect the "protesters" from attacks from "supporters"
4) protect the "bystanding public" from "evil protesters"

People that are now "supporters" should think that tomorrow they may become the "protesters" , but I honestly don't expect this kind of insight from many of this government supporters, even from "bona fide" ones.
posted by elpapacito at 7:02 AM on February 20, 2004

Meanwhile, the actual terrorist sleepers are laughing their asses off while we spy on each other. I doubt Al Qaeda has any reason to inflitrate a peace or antiglobalism group. The cold war analogy doesn't work. One could see reasons for the Soviet bloc to have a hand in western leftist organizations, being ideological fellow travelers, though I leave it to others to debate whether it was a signficant activity. But few in the US are interested in establishing radical Islamic states.
posted by Slagman at 10:17 AM on February 20, 2004

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