Few activists will be surprised at the news that undercover police officer Mark Kennedy infiltrated environmental groups in Britain, travelling abroad masquerading as a professional climber and campaigner.
Undercover cops and agent provocateurs are not new—they have been consistently used by the state to spy on political activists.
The new category, “domestic extremists”, is used to scare activists and provide an excuse for the police to intimidate, smear and spy on protesters—privately and publicly.
Campaign groups have historically been seen as the enemy within. In the run up to the G20 protests in 2009, the Metropolitan Police systematically raided squats and social centres. In the days following many activists were arrested and their houses raided.
Police infiltration was common knowledge among activists during the Miners’ Strike of the 1980s.
But it is police, not activists, who have something to hide.
They dropped the charges of six activists connected to Kennedy—not because the case would collapse, but because it would have forced the police to open up files to the courts on the use of undercover officers.
The reality is that ordinary people and the state, of which the police are a crucial part, are often in conflict.
The state wants to preserve the status quo, protecting the profit and property of the rich while keeping the rest of us in our place.
Anything that threatens that order is considered a threat.
The bigger and stronger our movement, the harder it will be for the police to intimidate and harass us.