Undercover cops and domestic extremists

Most British people reading this will be aware of the recent wave of news about undercover police infiltrating eco-activist movements in the UK. I’d just like to highlight a couple of short pieces that everyone interested in this story should read.

Firstly, George Monbiot’s ‘The Real Domestic Extremists’ is important because it reveals the disturbing backdrop to this sorry saga.

The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) employed the undercover officer Mark Kennedy, who was embedded and bedded for seven years among peaceful green activists. Kennedy claims that it has supervised 15 other undercover agents on the same mission. But what is the mission? Sorry, can’t tell you. NPOIU is run by the Association of Chief Police Officers. As Simon Jenkins pointed out last week, ACPO is not a police force but a private limited company, beyond democratic scrutiny, not subject to freedom of information laws. (Read more »)

Secondly, anyone who’s followed the debate around this story will no doubt have heard someone (perhaps themselves) justifying the Mark Kennedy’s “mission” on the grounds that the people he was spying on were planning to shut down a power station—surely a grossly dangerous act that should indeed be treated as terrorism. Merrick’s ‘Lock Up Your Grannies’ demonstrates this argument to be high-grade bullshit, still being peddled by ACPO and anyone else irrationally desperate to demonize people fighting for society’s future.

Being smart human beings, the activists knew full well that the way the National Grid works “meant that there was no chance of anyone’s electricity supply being disrupted. Rather, it meant cleaner-burning gas stations would come onstream.” The judge sentencing them said:

It is right to emphasise that this the planned action would have had no practical effect on the electricity supply … It was your intention that this invasion would have been peaceable and safe. Violence was to be avoided, and the safety of the workers at the power station was paramount. You were fully equipped to carry out your roles safely.

But yesterday, ACPO spokesman Jon Murphy said that some of the people they were monitoring

are intent on causing harm, committing crime and on occasions disabling parts of the national critical infrastructure. That has the potential to deny utilities to hospitals, schools, businesses and your granny. [My emphasis; but you get the impression that it may as well have been his, in a stern, patronizing tone.]

As one of the activist defendants said:

I find it deeply disturbing that a senior police officer with a responsibility for the country’s national security doesn’t seem to comprehend how his own National Grid works.

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