“There’s a North American strategy to take away the right to mass protest.” — Michael Ratner

Citizen Action Monitor, July 27, 2011

We use the word – in the US we call it “it chills your rights” — because it’s basically sending a message to the next demonstration, you come out there, you’re not going home tonight. You better bring your toothbrush. And that’s a bad message for peaceful demonstrators, a really bad message. And it’s a way of undercutting mass protests because, as I said when I began, what they’re afraid of most, I think, in this economic downturn, the austerity measures, is mass protests, which we started to see in Madison, Wisconsin, in the United States, and which we’re starting to see in Canada, which we have certainly seen across Europe. I remember when they were happening in Europe over the years, I kept saying, when are we going to start having this? And now, of course, austerity is kicking in, in the States. We’re seeing it happen here as well.” — Michael Ratner from an interview with Paul Jay of the Real News Network

Watch the full 10:50-minute interview with Michael Ratner here, followed by my transcript of selected portions of the interview, including added subheadings and text highlighting to facilitate browsing.

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InfiltrationTo Disrupt, Divide And Mis-direct Are Widespread In Occupy (Part One of Three)

By Kevin Zeese & Margaret Flowers

25 February, 2012

This is Part I of a three part series “Infiltration of Political Movements is the Norm, Not the Exception in the United States” on infiltration of Occupy and what the movement can do about limiting the damage of those who seek to destroy us from within. This first article describes public reports of infiltration as well as results of a survey and discussions with occupiers about this important issue. The second article will examine the history of political infiltration and steps we can take to address it.   Part III will describe common behaviors of infiltrators and how other social movements have tried to minimize the impact of infiltration. The authors hope this series will lead to a broader discussion within the movement so that efforts can be made to balance the strengths of Occupy with actions necessary to protect the movement from disruption and division.

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In the first five months, the Occupy Movement has had major victories and has altered the debate about the economy. People in the power structure and who hold different political views are pushing back with a traditional tool – infiltration. Across the country, Occupies are struggling with disruption and division, attacks on key persons, escalation of tactics to property damage and police conflict as well as misuse of websites and social media.

As Part II of this discussion will show, infiltration is the norm in political movements in the United States. Occupy has many opponents likely to infiltrate to divide and destroy it beyond the usual law enforcement apparatus. Others include the corporations whose rule Occupy seeks to end, conservative right wing groups allied with corporate interests and other members of the power structure including non-profit organizations allied with either corporate-funded political party, especially the Democratic Party which would like Occupy to be their Tea Party rather than an independent movement critical of both parties.

On the very first day of the Occupation of Wall Street, we saw infiltration by the police.  We were leaving Zucotti Park and were stopped in traffic by the rear of the park.  We saw an unmarked van open, in the front seat were two uniformed police and out of the back came two men dressed as occupiers wearing backpacks, sweatshirts, and jeans. They walked into Zucotti Park and became part of the crowd.

Two undercover police who just stepped out of a police van (left) and the officer in blue entering Zuccotti Park (right). Photos by Margaret Flowers.

Two undercover police who just stepped out of a police van (left) and the officer in blue entering Zuccotti Park (right). Photos by Margaret Flowers.

In the first week of the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC we saw the impact of two right wing infiltrators.  A peaceful protest was planned at the drone exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution.  The plan was for a banner drop and a die-in under the drones.  But, as protesters arrived at the museum two people ran out in front, threatening the security guards and causing them to pepper spray protesters and tourists.  Patrick Howley, an assistant editor for the American Spectator,  wrote a column  bragging about his role as an agent provocateur. A few days later we uncovered the second infiltrator when he was urging people on Freedom Plaza to resist police with force.

There have been a handful of other reports around the country of infiltration.  In Oakland, CopWatch filmed an  Oakland police officer  infiltrating. And, in another video CopWatch includes audio tape of an Oakland police chief,  Howard Jordan, talking  about how police departments all over the country infiltrate, not just to monitor protesters but to manipulate and direct them. Continue reading