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Police moles attempt to discredit protest movements
THE TRIAL of six environmental activists, accused of conspiring to break into Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, has collapsed after the defence demanded information about a police agent provocateur who it appears was one of the main people planning to break into the coal-fired power station.
Police officer Mark Kennedy began infiltrating environ-mental groups in 2003, and apparently only confessed to working undercover for the police when confronted with a passport in his real name in October last year.
According to the Guardian, Mark Kennedy paid £778 to hire a 7.5 tonne truck to transport equipment for the Ratcliffe power station action, and admitted to the activists who confronted him that undercover police infiltrating protest movements cost the taxpayer £250,000 each a year.
How much public money is being wasted on agents provocateurs trying to twist and criminalise legitimate protest movements?
This is a timely warning for the growing anti-cuts movement. The police and the state will be looking for ways to infiltrate and discredit anti-cuts campaigners, including sending agents provocateurs to demonstrations and meetings.
Fortunately some of the most effective methods of organising campaigns - like democratic discussion about strategy and tactics, and keeping ind-ividual activists or members accountable to the group - are also the best defence against police infiltration as well as individuals getting carried away and doing things that harm the movement.
The student demonstrators who attempted to stop a tiny minority of protesters smashing up a police van that had been conveniently 'left' in the middle of a police 'kettle' show how students are beginning a healthy debate on what tactics their movement should employ.
A police mole tried to infiltrate Militant Labour (forerunner of the Socialist Party) during the anti-racist campaigns of the mid-1990s, but didn't succeed in persuading us to be violent because his attempts to argue for this were always answered politically and didn't get support.
The valuable information he boasted about giving to his bosses in the police, was no more than they could have got from reading our weekly paper (available at a local anti-cuts activity).
In The Socialist 12 January 2011:
Youth fight for jobs
International socialist news and analysis
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news