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Agents Provocateurs

March 30, 2011

Agents Provocateurs? A mythical creature born from leftist conspiracy theories, right? Possibly, however evidence points to something much more sinister and very real and the danger of their anonymity and peoples general ignorance to the topic could be seen as just an important threat to a movement, such as the recent anti-cuts, as the neo liberal media and the corrupt politicians who carry out the bidding of big businesses. Now this is not a recent debate and I am not going to pretend to be an expert on it, on the contrary I am pretty new to the realisation of the true nature of it all. During my undergraduate I was introduced to the tactic of agents provocateurs when studying the media coverage of the miners strikes, learning how ex top MI5 agents had later admitted to paying people to attend picket lines and demonstrations with the purpose to incite violence in such ways as throwing bottles and bricks at Police from within the picket lines or demonstration, resulting in media coverage being taken away from plight of the striking miners and legitimising the violent actions of the police. Whilst having the upmost respect for my professor I must admit I did full heartedly question this at the time, I did believe that such things did occur however the regularity of it just didn’t sit right with me. In my ignorance due to at this point attending only a handful of demonstrations and to be honest mostly getting caught up in the whole carnival feeling of such events as the G8 demonstration at Gleneagles in Scotland, I failed to take in fully the events unfolding around me. However the recent anti-cuts movement has seen me attending demonstrations and rallies much more regularly and as many who have attended such events I have found myself not only laying witness to the brutality of Police tactics but also the sequence of events that has lead to them.

The media coverage from the ‘March for an Alternative’ demonstration on the 26th March was dominated by the events that unfolded around Piccadilly and Oxford road, involving the so called ‘Black Bloc’. Now the debate of whether you agree with their tactics I will leave for another time, however it must be recognised that whilst their tactics do shine light on the subject of the tax avoidance of the business and banks that they target, it must also be discussed that their tactics again as was the case with the miners strikes allows for the media to ignore the real issues of the demonstration and legitimise (however wrongly) the violent behaviour of the Police. Members of the black bloc may be genuine participants and may fully believe what they are doing is the right way to demonstrate against the governments ideological, unnecessary and unfair cuts and it is not the aim of this piece of writing to condemn them. However what this piece is interesting in highlighting is the evidence that such groups are being infiltrated by the agent provocateurs that are so dangerous to such a movement. A video available online at , shows a participant of the black bloc group being let through Police lines after identifying himself/herself to an officer and hiding behind a telephone box in order to take items off his/her person. This is one incident that has been happened to be caught on camera by BBC news, however not discussed in any context by the news agency. Another incident which seems to have been carried out not by black bloc but by another group saw a number of youth’s armed with an arsenal of glass bottles carried in multiple plastic bags, throw these bottles first at protesters (including myself and a comrade) then Police, on a side street off Trafalgar square (possibly Duncannon Street). These youth’s strode down this street with no fear of consequence or reprisal in the form of arrest, as they made no attempt to cover their faces or wear clothes that could stop them being identified. Their actions once again paved the way for an indiscriminate Police baton charge, which quickly saw the line that they had started from being taken up by protestors (both black bloc and others) with the original bottle throwers quickly disappearing and the media coverage being provided with a visual of running battles resulting in the well rehearsed and now common place commentary of ‘a small minority hell bent of violence’.

As I said at the start of this piece, I don’t pretend to be an expert on such matters, nevertheless I do feel we must do all we can to highlight such tactics not only to those who are engaged in the anti cuts and other struggles but also to those who are not, whose support is needed in order for a struggle to be successful. I also don’t fail to recognise the difficulty of such a task, gathering evidence is difficult enough but publicising it would seem to be even more difficult with the apparent complicity of news agencies in the hiring of such agents provocateurs, according to the frantic twitter traffic discussing the claim that SkyNews camera crews had offered people to throw bricks at Police and protesters at the 26th March demonstration. However, I feel all that can be done must be done to highlight such an important matter, or we face the consequence of the continued legitimisation of Police brutality and the message of our movement being lost to the tune of ‘well I’m with you on what your are saying but…’


From → Politics, UK

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