They come at us because we are strong

Statement on the infiltration by Mark ‘Marco’ Jacobs

For four years the Cardiff Anarchist Network (CAN) 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.

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Mayday Mayhem For Police As Summer of Rage Continues!

The head of the march as it charged through the streets of Brighton

South Wales Anarchists joined up to 2000 people from around the UK in Brighton on May 4th for the largest demonstration to date against Brighton based ‘EDO/MBM’ bomb component factory, organised by Smash EDO.

The MayDay Mayday Street Party against war, the arms trade and capitalism was a lively and colourful march that started at Brighton’s sea front. It continued through the town and paid visits to a number of local branches of multi-national corporations, including McDonalds, RBS, HSBC and Lloyds which invest in ITT, the corporation which owns EDO.

Activists scaled scaffolding on Barclays bank to drop a banner demanding “arms dealers out of Brighton”. Police paid special attention to protect a branch of McDonalds which proved to be a flash point with a police van nearly being tipped over and a flare set off underneath it.

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Compared with previous EDO demos, policing was relatively hands-off initially, without the automatic attempt by police to cordon every man, woman, child or dog in sight. However, batons and pepper spray were used on activists during the day as riot police attempted to control the march and activists successfully forced back mounted police a number of times. Of course, the police ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ were present but were forced to retreat behind police lines as FIT- watching activists made their job of intrusively filming protestors more difficult.

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

It seemed that many activists had learnt from the G20 protests and refused to be drawn into long fights with the police. Activists instead found alternative routes and kept moving around the streets when unable to break through police lines quickly, outwitting the cops and leaving them stranded waiting for orders. At one point the cops themselves were ‘kettled’ (penned in) thanks to protestors’ quick thinking. The demonstrators’ refusal not to be kettled or subjected to violence by the police meant that officers were often surrounded and outflanked.

Towards the evening, as the march appeared to retire to the park by St. Peters church and just as riot police had storm-trooped away, the party took to the streets again taking us all by surprise! The streets were again re-claimed by activists and local young people, running through the streets of Brighton, through the Pavilion and back towards the beach for more partying.

Police on the back foot

Police on the back foot

Many felt that the police were on the back-foot at this time since the G20 protests and due to the associated bad press officers received for their tactics. While the police may have been aware of the public eye upon them and tried to behave themselves a bit more on this occasion, the fact is that the police continue to protect private corporations who profit from war and death; meeting resistance to this with violence and repression. While slightly less violent and oppressive policing may be an improvement, better still would be no police at all and the complete freedom to shut down EDO and all corporations who are responsible for the continuation of the bloody war machine.

Mayday Protest against the Police

stationsteps2This Mayday, in the wake of the death of Ian Tomlinson, who died during the G20 demonstrations after being struck by baton and pushed to the ground by a member of the territorial support group (TSG), over 50 people gathered outside Cardiff central police station to protest against police violence. The protest was a lively one lasting about two hours, with music and singing throughout the demonstration. There was a mix of protesters from a cross section of the radical political ‘scene’ in South Wales, with representations from all the local Anarchist groups and Socialist parties, as well as campaigners for peace, social justice, human and animal rights.

ray-davies-v-copUnsurprisingly, following recent criticism of the Metropolitan Police over their thuggish behaviour during the G20, nearly all the Cardiff cops stayed behind closed doors, with only one coming out to attempt to talk to people in the crowd. What may have been an attempt at appeasing the demonstrators was, however, treated with scepticism by those who’d previously been on the receiving end of police violence during protests and are more than aware of the systematic and deliberate way in which public demonstrations are repressed and criminalised.

South Wales Anarchists not only condemn police violence, but will confront officers who commit violence against those who protest. We  oppose the continued deployment of “Forward Intelligence Teams” (FIT) who photograph and harass demonstrators. These tactics are unacceptable and we are committed to disrupt them as much as possible. More than that we see the role of the Police force as nothing more than the protectors of the interests of the rich and powerful, which cannot be reformed. The police are the violent arm of the state in our communities. They are the enemy of the working class!

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Resist police violence! Friday May 1st!

2848_e_onlineWe call on everyone angered by the vicious and violent methods of the police force to Protest outside Cardiff central police station on Friday the 1st May, 6.00pm. The police station is on King Edward VII Avenue, just behind city hall. Bring what you expect to find.

police-stop-g20-protester-001The brutal policing of the G20 that culminated in the death of innocent bystander, Ian Tomlinson was typical of the police force’s response to protests.  Tomlinson died after being assaulted by a masked member of the Territorial Support Group (TSG). This was not the only incident of violence on the day and, most certainly, is not an isolated event as anyone who has attended a recent demonstration will attest to.

The events at the anti-G20 protests are only the tip of the iceberg. The introduction of  SOCPA and anti-terrorism laws have had a profound effect on the policing of protesters and demonstrators in recent years. More recently 114 climate protesters were arrested on “conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass” following a police raid, as usual there were multiple raids on homes whilst people were in custody. The protesters have since been released on bail to return in court in July. With ongoing police operations like this, it is clear to see the worrying extent of surveillance in use by the state and the growing criminalisation of dissent.

blog-pictureSouth Wales Anarchists stand against the ever increasing role of the police force as a political tool in the UK, and the violent methods that underlie all police forces. We stand in solidarity with victims of police aggression and those faced with humiliation and deportation due to an over-zealous government desperate for a ‘win’ in the eyes of a sceptical public. We do not simply wish for minimal punishment for the individual officers but recognise that the role of the Police is one of violence, intimidation and protection of power and property. The State monopoly on violence is exercised through the Police and those who defy the moral code of the State will always suffer the brutal consequences.

Some People Push Back

g20-police-medicOne of the most important points to be made about the policing of the G20, other than the attempted cover up of the death of Ian Tomlinson, is the fact that heavy handed policing is not uncommon.  Events such as the climate camp, the G8 summit protests and, more recently, the protests against the blockade and invasion of Gaza have all been met by brutality from the police, resulting in injuries to protesters.

Throughout the G20 demonstrations there were baton charges and aggravation by the police, who claimed that their policing was a response to the violence initiated by protesters. As many who attended would agree, this was not the case. After being penned into a kettle, without food, water or toilets, tempers are clearly going to rise. Even so, it was not the protesters who initiated the violence. Standing on Threadneedle Street in front of police lines, in a huge crush of people, we noticed the police starting to advance, though quite where they thought we’d go was anyone’s guess. When they met with the slightest resistance, they drew batons and lashed out. This provoked a response from those in danger of being hit, and ultimately turned a peaceful protest into the scenes witnessed later on.

g20-protests-g20-protests-012On the other hand, one of the biggest successes for protesters that has not been reported was the effectiveness of group action. Soon after our arrival at the Bank of England, it was clear the police were trying to pen us in. A group of 20-30 protesters, wearing masks (to both conceal their identity and as a show of solidarity to make it difficult to apprehend specific people) formed a square block and walked quickly into police lines, in a non-violent manner, to assert their right to move freely. It worked to great effect. With the police not yet organised and caught unaware, 75% of the group made it out of the cordon before the police could reform. Despite the attempts by the police, those remaining managed to prevent any arrests being made.

This minor action shows the importance of working together and quick decision making in protests. If we as activists don’t like the tactic of kettling, it is not up to us to wait for any authority to prevent it; we need to take matters into our own hands. Working as a group is extremely effective and using directly confrontational actions can produce excellent results, as shown by those who broke out of the block and didn’t have to spend the day trapped in a cordon.

War in the Vale

A number of South Wales Anarchists attempted to disrupt this year’s ‘Aerolink Wales’ aerospace and defence fair, held at The Vale Hotel and Spa near Hensol on 7th April.

"Hardocre activists" "storm" The Vale Hotel...

"Hardcore activists" "storm" The Vale Hotel...

While members of the Red Choir, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, CND and Stop the War maintained a presence in a designated area at the front of the hotel, local anarchists approached the doors to attempt to gain access. However, they were prevented from doing so by police officers who described the group as ‘hardcore activists’ trying to ‘storm’ the building.

A police evidence gatherer filmed activists closely and became confrontational when protesters began to block him getting pictures. The officer was then instructed to put his camera away so as not to cause a scene! Erm, too late: the line of police at the entrance and the officers and police vehicles around the 4 Star facility had probably not gone unnoticed by its guests.

Police evidence-gatherer foiled by anti-militarist propaganda

Police evidence-gatherer foiled by anti-militarist propaganda

Leaflets were given to hotel guests and visitors, explaining that companies which supply the Israeli army who killed an estimated 1500 people in recent attacks on Gaza were showing off their wares and cutting deals in their hotel.

Many were shocked and upset to learn of what was happening in the hotel and made complaints to the manager. One guest took a number of leaflets back into the hotel to give out to other customers while another told us that when she asked hotel staff what the event was about, she was told they weren’t allowed to tell her!

Despite being informed that they were trespassing and being asked to leave by a nervous hotel manager, apparently under instruction from the police, the south wales anarchists continued to ensure that anyone going in or out of the hotel knew that profiteers from war were doing business in their hotel.

Meanwhile, as all police attention was focused at the front of the hotel, they totally missed posters and ‘blood’ covered dolls being left inside the hotel in protest against this Welsh Assembly supported arms fair. Doh! We think Aerolink 2010 may be actively looking for a new venue…

Doh!

Doh!

Anarchists fight with police…and win!!!

From our G-20 Meltdown correspondent

We’ve had a great day. It’s been fantastic! We said we’d storm the bank and we did. They couldn’t stop us. We broke through the police lines and the royal bank of Scotland was trashed.  We’ve won! We’ve done what we said we would. It feels fantastic. We’ve had a brilliant day!

rbs-smashedWe estimate numbers of demonstrators at 8,000. The police were saying about 4,000 in Threadneedle St alone so add on a few thousand to that.

The journalists caused horrendous problems. When we wanted to get through police lines, they were pushing back against us. They were real nerds. They kept pushing in between us and the cops, which was a real problem because when the police were hitting people the journalists were stopping us getting to the injured. Their presence was also stopping demonstrators from going through police lines. In terms of numbers there, half were protestors and half journalists.

The police have used batons on people. They’ve used horses but not for charging. It’s been baton charges. It is arguable that they were less aggressive because the press was there. They could’ve been more aggressive. It could’ve have been worse. Whether the presence of the press tempered them is a possibility.

 

For more news direct from the streets, check out Indymedia.

Check out this brilliant sequence of photos of the day.