Photos and names of Derbyshire FIT

The new Counter Terrorism Bill, currently in the lords, contains an amendment to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This amendment will make it an offence, punishable by up to ten years imprisonment, to publish or elicit information about any police constable “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. There is no need for the person publishing the information to intend for it to be used for the purposes of terrorism.

Therefore, in the spirit of resistance, and defiance, here are some new names and numbers of Derbyshire FIT.

1438 M Bremmer

More names and photos to follow when blogger allows me to upload them!

FIT and EGT at Brighton

Spotted at the Shut ITT demo in Brighton, 15th October 2008.

FIT…

IMG_6757

CO2558

IMG_6722

1818 CO2558 2058

IMG_6718

4551

IMG_6692

1558 (far left) 1818 (far right)

SG109656

1818 CO996

EGT…

SG109353

CR198 EGT

SG109355

CS5 EGT

SG109372

DS376 EGT CC268 EGT

SG109675

DH301 EGT

IMG_6685

CH590 EGT

More of the same, plus other photos from the day, in the Shut ITT set on Flickr.

Smash EDO – a fitwatchers perspective

Once again the ability of Smash EDO to stand up to police bullying and intimidation was impressive and inspiring. This was perhaps most obvious as the police blocked the march to the EDO factory and marchers stood their ground against police batons and pepper spray.

But it was noticable from the start in the way that people responded to the demands of FIT and evidence gatherers to co-operate with police filming, and to remove masks and face coverings, on threat of arrest. When a group in the centre of the crowd defiantly refused to remove their masks, those around them responded with solidarity and repeatedly drove the police back when they tried to move in to seize both masks and the people that were wearing them.

This meant that, as the march moved off, many people were wearing masks, and were able to preserve their anonymity in the face of a huge intelligence and data gathering operation.

The police used no less than ten evidence gathering teams (EGT), all armed with video cameras, too many for the normal fitwatch crew to deal with. But fitwatching was made effective by so many people joining in with scarves, flags and whatever came to hand, and the EGT were constantly hassled and were frequently forced to withdraw when they could get no useful footage.

Neither were the EGT on their own. Most of the Met police public order cops, and the rag tag bunch of ‘extremist watcher’ cops from around the country that Fitwatch flagged up on the spotter card, were indeed present, plus a few more besides. Despite such fire power, Smash EDO marchers were still able to do a brilliant job in messing with police ‘intelligence’.

There were a number of occasions during the day when the police were clearly outflanked and without a clue. On one occasion Met public order cop Steve Discombe was heard panicking into his radio, “What do you want us to do? We need to know what to do. Someone has to make a decision, now!”

Perhaps the most amusing moment came late on in the day when the police kettled and herded a crowd of a few hundred into the park at the Level, only to realise too late that they had forgotten to close off the other side. With police vans rushing around in panic trying to head them off, the marchers simply walked through the park and out the other side, unkettled and unherded. Surely heads will roll for that one!

All in all, Smash EDO were organised, strong, determined and inspiring, and I hope that Fitwatch played a small part at least in helping the day along.

Fitwatch at EDO

This is a call for all fitwatchers to head to Brighton to Smash EDO, and for all at Smash EDO to engage in a bit of fitwatching.

We know that the police will be very keen to document everyone who attends. They will photograph and monitor anyone they decide is ‘of interest’ and put the data on a central police database. They will also seek to intimidate and deter protesters, and will harass and hassle those they decide they don’t like.

Fitwatch is an initiative that seeks to encourage people to protect themselves and others from the intimidation and harassment of police ‘intelligence’ gatherers.

To get the fitwatching off to a good start, we have put together a FITwatch spotter card. Feel free to print off a copy or two for use on the day. Of course, we don’t have a crystal ball, and don’t know for certain who will turn up. But we have picked out a few of the more likely suspects for you! Please pass on to us any additional info you may happen to discover.

Remember:

There is no legal requirement to co-operate with police photography. You don’t have to give them an unobstructed shot!

You have as much legal right to take their photographs as they do to take yours. Taking their photos is perfectly lawful and legitimate. Please send any photos (with ID numbers please!) to fitwatch at defycops@yahoo.co.uk

Freedom Not Fear – Anti-surveillance Day Sat 11th October – Scotland Yard

Seeing as the Freedom not Fear event in the UK is being held directly outside New Scotland Yard, home of the Forward Intelligence Teams, it would seem churlish for Fitwatch not to be there. After all, anti-surveillance is definitely our thing.
I would therefore like to invite all Fitwatch supporters to come along and say hello to our friends in CO11, who no doubt will be only too keen to come out and greet us.
Assemble 1pm

A BeneFIT for Freedom of Movement and against Repression!

On July 5th people demonstrated for freedom of movement and the right to protest at the home office buildings in Croydon. This party is apost event benefit for the demonstration and to support the people whowere charged for protesting the Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) in therun up to the demo. No Justice, No Peace!

Friday 3 October 2008,
Rampart Social Centre,
London E1 2LA
(near Whitechapel, off Commercial Rd)
from 8pm – 2am
Reggae, Roots and More

Fitwatch Meeting at London Anarchist Bookfair

Kicking the Forward Intelligence Teams off our streets.

Saturday 18th October
11am
Room EB4A
Queen Mary and Westfield College (nearest tube Mile End)

This meeting is to build on the word done by Fitwatch to counteract police repression and intimidation.

Aimed at anyone who has experienced police intimidation and wants to do something about it.

Press Freedom: “Collateral Damage”

The National Union of Journalists have released Press Freedom: “Collateral Damage”, a short film about police surveillance of journalists who document political dissent, written and directed by Jason N. Parkinson, and produced by Marc Vallée.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear also proposed a motion condemning the targeting of journalists by FIT teams, which was agreed at the TUC conference. There are more details and links with the film, which you can watch online, and on Marc Vallée’s blog.

A tale of two trials

Over the last fortnight there has been two trials in London for Fitwatching activities, both for obstructing police cameras. The three defendants in the first trial were lucky enough to have lawyers representing them for free. The two defendants in the second trail were forced by lack of legal aid to defend themselves. The difference between the two trials could not have been more stark, nor give a clearer picture of the complete lack of justice in our criminal justice system.

There are solid legal arguments as to why obstructing police cameras is not unlawful. Some of these are quite complex, others relatively simple. The police have no more power than you or I to take photographs of people in the street. If I want to take a photograph and someone gets in the way, well, it’s just tough. Same applies to the police. No-one has ever given them the authority to use force or arrest in order to get the pictures they want.

There are other reasons too why FIT activities are less than completely lawful; the harassment of individuals who have committed no crimes, the intimidation of those who want to be involved in political protest, and unlawful data gathering and processing, to name but three!

Legal arguments were raised at both trials. When they were raised by lawyers in the first trial, they were taken seriously. When they were raised by ordinary, non-legally trained defendants in the second trial they were not. The District Judge just didn’t bother his head with them. “I’ve looked at your arguments, but I’m happy the police were obstructed in their duty, because that is the evidence they have given,” he said. In other words, ‘I can’t be bothered with all that legal stuff, I’ll just find you guilty because the nice policeman wants me to’. Fairness and impartiality at its very best.

Of course, none of us will be rocked by the shock headline of injustice in British courts. But at a time when legal aid is being cut back and back, it shows how much harder it is for unrepresented defendants to get anything like a fair hearing.

Fortunately the three defendants on trial at Horseferry Road magistrates court faired better, to the credit largely of a more reasonable District Judge and the two law firms who were prepared to give their services for free. Apart from the serious stuff it was interesting to hear Inspector Spence reveal his carefully contrived ‘plan’ to lure fitwatchers out of the crowd at the stop the war march in order to arrest them with his three units of back-up TSG. And amusing to hear PC Rooney talk of the ‘hundreds’ of protests he has been at where there had been a Fitwatch presence. Clearly we have been more effective than we thought!

This trial went part-heard, and will not now conclude until December. The defendants convicted at the second trial are considering thier appeal. If CO11 are celebrating a victory, I’d say they’re a bit too quick off the mark. There is everything still to play for.

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