Repression and Resistance to the Torch Relay (November 2009)

Article re-posted from anarchistnews.org/?q=node/10132

How Much Does An Anarchist Cost? Repression and Resistance to the Torch Relay

In the week leading up to the Olympic Torch Relay kick-off in Victoria, numerous people, who oppose the Olympics, were harassed by RCMP officers of the Vancouver 2010 Joint Intelligence Group (JIG) – an arm of Olympic Security. We believe that it is likely the 2010 JIG be moving with the Torch Relay and will use much of the same tactics as were used in Vancouver and Victoria to repress Torch Relay resistance across so-called Canada.

article followed by accounts of police visits, (scroll down)

Over the last year-and-a-half people have been visited by members of the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit, security overseers of the 2010 Games, at their homes, family homes, workplaces, or in the streets. Some people choose to file these visits with BC Civil Liberties, many more go undocumented. Our information comes from word of mouth and other written statements.

In the week leading up to the October 30th 2009, Torch relay kick-off in Victoria, harassment by RCMP JIG members stepped up. From what we can name, 25 people were visited, and harassed with specific references to the Torch. The number of people visited is likely to be at least double. This is reminiscent of the 15 people in 48hrs, who were visited last June. (http://mostlywater.org/approximately_15_visu_joint_intellige…).

The intended effects of their tactics are to intimidate, isolate and interfere. Obviously what they are capable of is not limited to what follows, and will likely change based on context, like with whom and where they are dealing.

In Vancouver and Victoria, the cops used intimidation and an attack on morale as the first line of defense. This strategy is often used to avoid open public use of force. By keeping the more objectionable repression out of the public eye, the appearances of democratic protest are maintained.

The intent to create isolation was shown during harassment, when the cops named off lists of other individuals that they said were ‘up to something.’ This is probably done for a number of reasons. One that we note, is to drive a wedge between people. This is meant to encourage people to separate themselves from the individuals that the cops are naming. Implied with associating with these individuals is the threat of surveillance and criminalization.

Interference in peoples personal lives was attempted through police visits to family and workplace. The cops, visiting a persons parents can cause friction and disruption in relationships and go beyond this by playing on parental concern to extract information. The cops are known to come to family homes and spout off lies. They have also revealed criminal records to unsuspecting parents.

These tactics are used to create reactions of fear and concern, potentially causing the parent to give information about their kids life over to the cops, with the idea that it is ‘for their own good.’ Secrets held back from family or friends, but known to police, can be used as leverage; eg. if your parent (etc..) already knows the information, the cops are dis-empowered. And for parents who haven’t had much contact with the police in their lives, they should be made aware that the cops lie as a rule and not an exception.

The best solution remains: do not talk to the cops! Not because you have something to hide, but because their primary interest is to defend property and those who have it, at the expense of the natural world and people who have little to call their own.

The strength of our resistance is social. That means it depends on the strength, solidarity and relationships of many of us who are fighting along similar lines and facing common enemies. From community organizers, to indigenous land defenders, anarchists, paramedics (who were pressured back to work by VANOC), and workers coerced into signing away their right to strike, let us strengthen bonds of solidarity, as this is our greatest tool in the struggle to live with dignity and without exploitation.

__________________________________________________________________

Vancouver/ Victoria, October 2009:
A Partial Overview of “Vancouver 2010 JIG” Harassment:

INTIMIDATION

In East Vancouver, on October 28th, 2 days before a demonstration in Victoria, scheduled to coincide with the first leg of the Torch, someone was approached after leaving a house. He was on his way to a vehicle, when plain clothes RCMP officers called after him. He did not reply and continued to the vehicle. As they drew closer they began to yell at him, saying “Don’t even think about going to Victoria! We know what you are up to. We’ll be with you in a swarm the whole way there. If you do go to Victoria, don’t do anything illegal. And tell your anarchist-kid friends the same thing!”

After getting in the vehicle, RCMP followed him and a friend around for 20 minutes, disappearing then reappearing and waving, which suggests more than one cop vehicle was tailing the car.

Later that day, 2 individuals leaving another house were approached in a very similar manner while leaving another house in East Vancouver. This time police listed off names of other people and asked if these individuals knew what they were planning. Again the cops got no reply.

ARREST

The next day, Thursday the 29th, three people were approached in East Vancouver by plainclothes cops, also outside a residence. The cops identified themselves as “elite intelligence officers” working on Olympic security and told the three they knew they were “heading to Victoria to protest the torch.” They offered the group a ride to the ferry and when the three were unresponsive and continued the cops told them they would be on the same boat and not to think about doing anything illegal, because they would be making arrests.

The officers continued to follow for about three blocks, until the people got on a bus, at which point they called out someone’s name. No one responded.

Once on the boat the three noticed the same 2 male cops aboard. One of the three, a young woman, approached people on the ferry sitting nearby and told them that the men were cops who’d been following her since she left home. She went up to the cops and told them to stop following her. It is at this point the cops allege she threw water on them. The cops cornered her. When a bystander approached and asked why police weren’t letting the woman go, a cop pushed the man and threatened to charge him with obstruction for getting in the way of his job. Apparently harassing young women is his job description.

Other ferry passengers began to gather around the situation. One bystander was filming on his cell phone and shouted, “This is Canadian civil liberties going down the drain.”

When people began to form bonds of solidarity with each other, it was the police in turn who were cornered. Telling the woman she was free to go, they arrested her later when she was alone in the streets of Victoria for “Assault Police.” Even with the legal, moral and physical backing of the State, cops remain liars and cowards.

FLATTERY, THREATS AND BRIBES

An Anarchist in Victoria was visited by members of JIG at a house. They told him that they think he is intelligent, influential and they would like to work with him. They said they are worried if windows are broken during the demonstration, children may be injured. Emphasizing that they “…also think there are many negative aspects of the Olympics,” they offered to meet for coffee and discuss ways to solve them. And finally they said, “Anyways, you wouldn’t want to be beaten and arrested at the demo, would you?”

To which he replied, “How did you know where I am, and how do you know my name?”

“Hey, come on, we have you under surveillance,” they returned.

“If you know me so well,” he stated, “you know I’ll never talk to you.” And he shut the door.

The RCMP came to his door once more. When he opened it they told him they were very serious about wanting to talk to him and then pulled out a hundred dollar bill.

The door was immediately closed and locked.

Don’t they know it takes at least 150.00 to buy off an anarchist?

Although it might seem like a good idea to grab the bill before you slam the door, the cops could use this against you in a multitude of ways.

SURVEILLANCE

In Victoria, on Saturday, October 31st, the day after the demo, a group of people were sitting together on the beach. Shortly after some friends showed up, a man nearby began “taking pictures of the ocean,” positioning another man so he could believably take pictures in their direction.

Going on the gut feeling that this guy was a cop, about 10 people ran up the stairs to challenge them. Already the two men were walking away. The people caught up however, and demanded why they were taking photos of them and, to supply their ‘business cards.’ The men feigned ignorance and showed the digital photos to the group, revealing that indeed he had not (yet) taken photos of them. Shortly after, another friend showed up and confirmed that these were the cops who’d followed the group on the ferry and arrested a woman two days earlier.

EMPTY THREATS

The threats of the cops were mostly empty. There were no swarms of them following these people around Victoria. They obviously pretended to know more than they really do about their lives. And all the information they did flaunt is easily obtainable.

Let solidarity be our bond as we continue in our struggles and stand together against repression.

-Some vancouver anarchists

For more information on resistance to the Olympics check out:

Articles and Zines:
http://anti-politics.net/distro/#olympics

An account of dealing with a Olympic police visit by indigenous warrior Gord Hill:
http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/1985

Ongoing Updates:
http://no2010.com

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