"Whoever the nutcases behind this surveillance are the implications are worrying. This surveillance is obviously aimed at building a detailed database of active political activists in New Zealand. Whether police or private this information will no doubt be used to target political activists and hinder campaigns where possible. Auckland activists have seen a constant stream of arrests almost none of which are ever taken to trial. Thompson and Clark are still trying to infiltrate activist groups around New Zealand and are paid by companies to sabotage campaigns by whatever means they can."
From Indymedia.co.nz: Today Auckland animal rights activists held a protest against the fur trade. The protest outside the Norwegian consulate was in response to a recent expose of Norwegian fur farms. The protest had been widely advertised and was completely public. Around ten of us were holding placards and leafleting passers by. During the protest a photographer for the listener approached us and told us that a photographer was in a car across the road with a long lens taking photos of the demo.
Immediately I headed across the road with a camera. As I neared the car the driver took off at high speed. At the next intersection the driver got stuck in a red light. As pedestrians crossed the road I took a couple of photos of the car and driver. To avoid having his photo taken the driver pulled his shirt completely over his head. While people were still crossing in front of his car he accelerated suddenly and then had to break heavily, coming dangerously close to running the pedestrians over. When he accelerated there were three people directly in front of his car. He was obviously driving blind. After this rather than stopping he sped through a red light.
All of this took place in front of a police car on the opposite side of the intersection which immediately did a u turn and turned on its lights and siren. The driver continued driving for a block and went around the corner. By the time I had caught up the driver of the car was being talked to by a police officer. The driver still had his shirt pulled partially over his head. I explained to the second officer who I was and why I had been trying to take photos of this guy. The first officer came over and told the second officer “This guy was taking photos of this protest and didn’t want his photo taken”. The police did not arrest the driver and allowed him to leave. I do not know if he received a fine....
Walking back to the protest I came across two men with radios, tinted shades and an expensive camera. The men were standing near to where the driver had been parked whilst photographing the protest. I overheard them trying to find out where the driver had gone. After taking a few quick photos of these two I rejoined the protest which went on as planned.
The surveillance was either being carried out by the New Zealand police or by a private security company. The most obvious example of a private company is Thompson and Clark. This company specialises in infiltrating and monitoring protest organisations. Famously employed by SOE Solid Energy this company uses infiltrators to help big business quash protest campaigns.
Whoever the nutcases behind this surveillance are the implications are worrying. This surveillance is obviously aimed at building a detailed database of active political activists in New Zealand. Whether police or private this information will no doubt be used to target political activists and hinder campaigns where possible. Auckland activists have seen a constant stream of arrests almost none of which are ever taken to trial. Thompson and Clark are still trying to infiltrate activist groups around New Zealand and are paid by companies to sabotage campaigns by whatever means they can.
An example of how the kind of photographs taken today may be used is illustrated by a poster we came across a few years ago. The poster contained about 50 photos of animal rights activists and was being delivered to fashion shops across Auckland. Many of the photos on the poster had been taken covertly at protests. At the bottom of the poster is a caption reading “If you have any information on any of the mentioned Activists/Protesters, then forward all details through to Detective Mike Cartwright, Harlech House, 482 Great South Road … Michael.Cartwright@police.govt.nz”. Michael Cartwright was at the time a member of the “Threat Assesment Unit” Set up post 9/11 to monitor domestic threats to security. Despite being 16 at the time and having no convictions then or since I was included on the poster. Many of the other people on the poster had never been to an animal rights demo and were shocked to see themselves on it. Obviously this poster and similar activity is not aimed at solving any criminal activity but rather at long term profiling of Activists.
Neither is this surveillance limited to Auckland. In Wellington last month counter terrorist unit officer Richard Grover was caught hiding in a carpark photographing Foie Gras protesters. At the same time John Campbell of Provision security was also attempting to photograph the half dozen protesters. The full story at: http://www.indymedia.org.nz/article/77575/still-lying-still-spying-anti-terror-pol.
I don’t think surveillance should stop or even slow down the protest movement. We need to keep doing what we are doing openly and proudly, we have nothing to hide. However I think it is important to expose state and corporate surveillance where we can.
I don’t think Activists or the public should put up with this kind of activity. Attending a picket or holding a placard should not result in you being added to a data base.