Thursday, 13 January 2011

Full letter to Guardian (pblished in a truncated version)

Yet again a case of the police spying on environmental activists (Guardian 10 Jan - Undercover officer who spied on Green activists quits Met). With the ongoing terrorist threat and government cut-backs in police funding, serious questions need to be asked about why the police are squandering valuable resources on keeping legitimate democratic organisations under surveillance. As far as I am aware, no environmentalist organisation has ever been accused of countering or undertaking action that endangers life or threatens the democratic state. At the most extreme, such organisations may have trespassed and perhaps, at times, caused minimal damage to property – actions that can be pursued through the normal legal process. These organisations are not clandestine and make no attempt to hide their views. Of course, when undertaking actions for maximum publicity they will sometimes have to keep exact plans secret. This is no reason to treat them as the ‘enemy within’ or like terrorists.

More sinisterly, it reveals a mind-set at the top of our police forces belonging to the bad old days when the duty of the security services was seen to be serving a governing elite that was intent on maintaining its own class privilege and conservative concept of government. In such a context it is little wonder that many ordinary policeman see brutality against student, environmental and political demonstrators as legitimate because they are ‘the enemy’.

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