All over the news today is the revelation that undercover police were instructed to infiltrate and smear the family and supporters of murder victim Stephen Lawrence in order to discredit them. It seems the porcine party had a precarious problem: everyone had noticed they were massive fucking racists for completely failing to investigate a racially-motivated murder. Rather than deal with the increasing mound of excreta accumulating in their lair, they felt it might be somewhat easier to try to ruin the lives of a grieving family in the hope that they’d shut up, or the public would stop listening to them.
Of course, this putrid plan failed to work out as well as the cops would have liked, but thanks to all sorts of other dicking around and failing to do anything, it still took the best part of two decades to achieve anything resembling justice (and even that was inadequate). This heel-dragging is par for the course, an attempt to make people forget just how awful they are.
Undercover policing in a particularly vicious and especially bastardly category of policing. While most policing relies on the use of physical force–or threats of physical force–to coerce, undercover policing is a more insidious beast, an emotional violation. The undercover cop slips in, distorting reality around himself, fucking shit up from the inside and selling the secrets of those whose trust he stole.*
It is not just grieving families these bastards decide to worm into. It is absolutely anyone who stands against the social order the state would prefer to silence. Eight activist women from various projects are currently taking legal action against the police as undercover police slipped in and insinuated their way into a position of trust by engaging in romantic relationships with them. They were tricked into sex, into pregnancy by liars who were tasked with gaining information on them and their friends.
All of this was found out after it had happened, after it had been happening for years. Who knows how many other women were abused in this fashion? Who knows how many other groups of people who made the terrible error of dissenting the status quo have been infiltrated in such a fashion?
And the effect of knowing all this has an impact, and it is one which I don’t doubt that the police had hoped for. Sometimes it makes us paranoid. Sometimes there’s a little shadow of concern, it becomes a little harder to trust our comrades, just in case they, too, are police spies. It can make activist circles exclusionary and cliquey, because of rightful safety concerns. Undercover policing is a violation which ripples throughout a community.
Make no mistake. This has not stopped, and it will not stop in the near future. If you listen closely, you can hear the echoes from the future of all of this happening again and again. We don’t hear about it very often, because they hide it well. It’s rare the covers get blown. We must just be vigilant, and not let the bastards keep getting away with it. Let the face of every undercover cop discovered be distributed far and wide so they cannot abuse again. Support campaigns like that for women victims of undercover police. Be critical of the police as an institution, and the role that they serve; not just undercover, but in all they do. And never, never let them get away with it.
*Using he/him pronouns here because in all the cases that came to light, those were the pronouns used. Also, the pigs still have a massive gender problem because they’re an oppressive institution.
10 thoughts on “All undercover cops are a special kind of bastard”
Do you think there’s ever a moral use of undercover policing? While I agree with you entirely in the cases you’ve raised here, what about things like drug trafficking or even people trafficking?
What about it? These same “oh but there’s a really really bad thing so this must be justified” is used in every case of unacceptable police behaviour. And no. There is a strong case against police full stop. http://politeire.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/the-police-the-case-against/
I was just wondering if your views on undercover police extended to other areas as well. I wasn’t arguing for them necessarily.
Undercover policing surely does not mean having sex with members of the group and having children? Why does undercover policing seem to include these elements? Smacks of male privilege to me. But then what isn’t?
I was thinking about that as i made lunch (I know, i know…don’t ask!)…and it made me realise that there was a fairly odd sort of logic at work here. Or maybe a MALE sort of logic.
In what circs would one NEED to have a relationship/have sex/whatever in order to make one’s participation in a group more plausible?
We-ell, i can imagine circs in whichthe police or their controllers or whoever might argue that they need to have sex with someone to get closer to them and hopefully pick up on pillow talk. I’m not endorsing that: but i see the logic.
But that isn’t – as far as i am aware – what is being defended here.
No. A load of polices seem to be arguing/have argued that a bloke wouldn’t “fit” into a particular circle if they weren’t putting it about a bit.
Just pause and think through the assumption in that! You don’t fit as a bloke unless you are having sex. So…presumably…polices can’t imagine a scenario in which a guy forms part of a circle of friends, colleagues, activists, etc. …and isn’t having sex with them.
Unpack that and its really quite frightening as presumptions go…
Very pissed off by this and similar cases…and anyone who is looking to take this issue a bit further forward, just seek me out on twitter, facebook or anywhere else (I’m not hard to find) and get in touch.
I first was aware of this issue when a number of trans men (that’s FtM) in England were done for indecent assault for failure to declare birth gender before starting out on relationships.
I’m not going to comment here on the rights or wrongs of that, since I don’t think it obvious in the cases i am aware of that those involved acted as properly as they should.
What did exercise me was the realisation that failure to declare birth gender was sufficient reason for the police and CPS to declare consent invalid…and then to pursue the “perpetrators” thru the courts at great expense (and resulting in prison sentences for the individuals involved).
OK…but put aside the rights or wrongs of these specific cases, its an intriguing blind spot in the establishment view of life. Fail to declare birth gender…and that risks invalidating consent.
Fail to declare convictions as a rapist, abuser, paedophile or whatever….and you have committed no crime.
Fail to declare that you are an undercover cop…and nothing. Even though, in many instances, you might presume that consent WOULD be withheld.
So here’s the kicker. I spoke to both the police and CPS about the last cases. Nothing to do with us, said the CPOS…because they need the police to bring forward a case in order for them to decide whether or not to prosecute.
Oh…and guess what. When a policeman possibly raped fellow activists by virtue of failing to disclose salient facts about his undercover status…well, the Met didn’t see this as a crim offence at all.
My point? Time for a big debate about the nature of consent…and time for police and lawyers to get their heads out of their collective arses which means that when someone conceals their identity as a past rapist…or even as undercover cop…no offence whatsoever is committed.
I know in the US they send undercover police into mosques, encourage some angry young men into thinking terrorism might solve their problems, provide them with plans and fake explosives and then heroically “stop” a terrorist attack that *would never even have been planned if the police hadn’t gotten involved*. I don’t know how the people who come up with this bullshit sleep at night, I really don’t.
That undercover policing is a thing that happens scares me. It really does.
mmm…yes, I mean that kind of thing would never happen here would it? There are some serious questions around MI5 involvement with British muslims and in particular the Woolwich attack to be answered.
There is no reason to suppose that dodgy undercover policing has ended.
There has been at least one woman undercover cop, though not in London 😛
Lynn Watson, action medic in Leeds, helped set up ‘Common Place’ social centre.
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