Today Copwatch put up this video of undercover police officers at Occupy Oakland protests.
I would like for people in other Occupy cities to watch this, and if they have the skills, I encourage them to create the same kind of video or photo document. This is the kind of work that Charles Grapski has done on the New York and DC protests and Matt Kresling recently did on the Oakland Occupy protest. (Kresling was the blogger who took the KTVU footage of the protests and produced a video that clearly showed a police officer throwing a flash bang grenade into the crowd around Marine Scott Olsen.)
Police departments in various cities talk, they use some of the same tactics and methods. If I lived in Portland and supported Occupy Portland I could do this kind of video. When done, I’d post the video and contact the local media covering this story. They would then go to the police for comment.
The police will often say, “We don’t have undercover operatives.” They can then be shown the video to see how they respond to the video. (Remember when the police said, “We didn’t use flash bang grenades, it was protesters with M-80s.” then they saw the footage?) Next they move to excuse number two, “We didn’t’ know about it.” Then to excuse number three, “The police officers are there to protect the safety of the protesters.” [cont’d.]
The police will object to this kind of video for many reasons including the fear that an undercover cop might be in danger if he is in another undercover operation. That’s really not our problem. The police made a decision to use an undercover cop in this way and they got caught. The MSM might agree with the police and refuse to run a story which would amplify the undercover cop’s identity, but now the protesters know and some of the public following along at home will find out, giving them more sympathy for the protesters and more suspicion of the police’s claims.
I understand that police departments decide to use undercover cop’s for multiple reasons and I’m not saying they are just there to incite violence. They could be there to gauge the mood of the crowd and calm them down. But as a number of old hippies will tell you, and as the 2010 National Lawyer’s Guild report points out (PDF link), historically this is not the role of undercover cops at protests.
From a perception point of view OWS loses support when the public believes violence started with the protesters. Today Justin Elliot at Salon did a great follow up story on a police union official who claimed over 20 officers have been injured in the protests — but he won’t give details. I suggested to Justin that if he does hear back from the police spokesperson that he ask for video proof and if they can’t provide it ask for the dates, times and locations of the alleged injured officers. I’ll bet there are some Occupy Wall Street person who has video of the alleged event. If not, there is always the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center with its thousands of public and private Wall Street security camera feeds. Wall Street has eyes and ears folks, if we can’t use our tools to incriminate them, we can use theirs.
By the way, thanks everyone for reading and tweeting my articles, because of your help my advice got to the Occupy Wall Street people on the ground. It also got to the right wing website run by serial liar and known fabricator, Andrew Breitbart.
Remember the post “What to do when the Media says a Protester Attacks a Cop.” I put up here at FDL? Well over 500 people tweeted it and it got to the double secret listserv that some Occupy Wall Street people read and that Breitbart people got access to.
Apparently Big Government now believes I’m in charge of the PR strategy for Occupy Wall Street. I’m totally putting that on my Spocko CV.