Sunday, 13 October 2013

Parallel cops

At least four active-duty New York cops were part of the motorcycle gang that terrorized and assaulted a driver in front of his wife and kid last week, and luckily the local prosecutors are hauling them in one by one to face indictments. Some of them are going to use as a defense the claim that they were undercover and looking for illegal behavior, which is both plausible and disturbing.

Disturbing because cops infiltrating violence-prone groups always have to walk a careful line between observing criminal acts and putting a stop to them, thus ending their undercover status. And in this case, at least one is alleged to have actively participated in the assault, which raises the question, To what extent should undercover spying influence the chain of events? This is a burning issue given the frequent use of agents provocateurs now to uncover ‘terrorist’ plots that often would never have come to fruition without the active encouragement of the policing agents themselves.

In the New York biker incident, the issue is particularly germaine given that one of the undercover rowdies, Wojciech Braszczok, turns out to have been a regular spy at the Occupy Wall Street activities as well. It will be interesting to learn more about his role there: for example, did he actively encourage the OWS folks to engage in more confrontational tactics or even provoke the police himself so that they would have an excuse to wade into the crowds and stage mass arrests? There are preliminary hints that this might be so.

Aside from the illicit spying on a constitutionally-protected protest activity, the presence of Braszczok in these various capacities should give us pause given the likelihood of increasing resistance to the pillager/looter state now firmly in the pocket of our banker overlords. What is to prevent these secret agents from simultaneously undermining legitimate protest while tolerating or even protecting and fortifying violent fringe groups that can be turned to convenient use by their bosses? Or do we believe the police to be a neutral force committed to protecting all citizens equally?

We need look no further than the Golden Dawn phenomenon in Greece to see how a society on the verge of complete collapse can open an enormous wedge to racist hate groups or even death squads, and there is plenty of historical precedent to suspect deep penetration by such groups into the security apparatus where they frequently find ideological sympathizers (Colombia and Northern Ireland come to mind).

We should hope and demand that our district attorneys prosecute these crimes fully and impartially and refuse to be intimidated by the many powerful friends of active-duty cops. Letting them off the hook after a driver out with his wife and minding his own business was dragged from his vehicle and beaten on the street would be yet another chilling precedent.

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