Infiltration to Disrupt, Divide and Misdirect Is Widespread in Occupy
Posted on Feb 24, 2012
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article contained erroneous information about an alleged infiltrator, identified as Michael Stack, who the article said provoked people in the Occupy movement in Washington, D.C., and New York to resist police with force. There was such a person at the Occupy protests, but the authors have informed us that it was not Michael Stack. The article has been edited to correct that error.
This is Part I of a two-part series on infiltration of Occupy and what the movement can do to limit damage by those who seek to cause harm from within. This article describes public reports of infiltration as well as results of a survey and discussions with Occupiers about the issue. The second article will examine the history of political infiltration and steps the movement can take to address it.
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. Other detractors include the corporations whose rule Occupy seeks to end; conservative right-wing groups allied with corporate interests; and members of the power structure including nonprofit organizations linked with corporate-funded political parties, especially the Democratic Party, which would like Occupy to be its 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 Zuccotti Park and stopped in traffic. We saw the doors of an unmarked van open and in the front seat were two uniformed police officers. Out of the back came two men wearing backpacks, sweatshirts and jeans. They walked into Zuccotti Park and became part of the crowd.
Square, Site wide
There have been a handful of other reports of infiltration around the country. In Oakland, CopWatch filmed an Oakland police officer infiltrating.
In another video, CopWatch includes audiotape of Oakland’s newly appointed 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.
There were also reports in Los Angeles of a dozen undercover police being in the L.A. encampment before Occupiers were forcibly evicted by the authorities. The raid by the L.A. police was brutal and resulted in mass arrests. Some of those arrested were mistreated in jails. Most of the charges were dropped. Similar pre-raid undercover activities were reported in Nashville, Tenn.
The Los Angeles encampment also had infiltrators from the right-wing group Free Republic, which posted on its Web page a call for infiltrators to block a vote concerning an offer from the city of Los Angeles for virtually free space for Occupy L.A.: “Need LA Freepers to show up to block this vote by the Occupy L.A. General Assembly. How brave are you?” In the end, L.A. Occupy decided not to accept the offer from the city, a decision opposed by some in the encampment.
In New York, there were also reports of infiltration. For example, one protester described how undercover agents infiltrated a demonstration at Citibank and were the loudest and most disruptive participants. The protester, after listening to conversations later at a police station, said in an interview: “It was a bit startling how ‘inside’ their information was, how they [undercover agents] were being paid to go to these protests and put us in situations where we’d be arrested and not be able to leave.”
Survey and Interviews of Occupiers Show Common Tactics and Infiltrators
These scattered reports seem to be the tip of the iceberg. As a result of experiencing extreme divisive tactics and character assassination on Freedom Plaza, we began to hear from Occupiers across the country about similar incidents in their encampments. We decided to survey people about infiltration.
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