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Agent provocateur

Traditionally, an agent provocateur (plural: agents provocateurs, French for "inciting agent(s)") is a person employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act. More generally, the term may refer to a person or group that seeks to discredit or harm another by provoking them to commit a wrong or rash action.

As a known tool to prevent infiltration by agent provocateurs,[1] the organizers of large or controversial assemblies may deploy and coordinate demonstration marshals, also called stewards.[2][3]

Contents

[edit] Common usage

An agent provocateur may be a police officer or a secret agent of police who encourages suspects to carry out a crime under conditions where evidence can be obtained; or who suggests the commission of a crime to another, in hopes they will go along with the suggestion and be convicted of the crime.

A political organization or government may use agents provocateurs against political opponents. The provocateurs try to incite the opponent to do counter-productive or ineffective acts to foster public disdain—or provide a pretext for aggression against the opponent (see Red-baiting).

Historically, labor spies, hired to infiltrate, monitor, disrupt, or subvert union activities, have used agent provocateur tactics.

Agent provocateur activities raise ethical and legal issues. In common law jurisdictions, the legal concept of entrapment may apply if the main impetus for the crime was the provocateur.

[edit] By country

[edit] United States

In the United States, the COINTELPRO program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had FBI agents pose as political radicals to disrupt the activities of radical political groups in the U.S., such as the Black Panthers, Ku Klux Klan, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

New York City police officers were accused of acting as agents provocateurs during protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.[4]

Denver police officers were also found to have used undercover detectives to instigate violence against police during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. This ultimately resulted in the accidental use of chemical agents against their own men.[5]

[edit] Europe

Notorious were the activities of agents provocateurs against revolutionaries in Imperial Russia. Yevno Azef and Father Gapon are examples of such provocateurs.

Sir John Retcliffe was an agent provocateur for the Prussian secret police.

At the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, police and security services infiltrated black blocs with agents provocateurs. Allegations first surfaced after video footage in which "men in black were seen getting out of police vans near protest marches" [6][7]

Francesco Cossiga, former head of secret services and Head of state of Italy, advised the 2008 minister in charge of the police, on how to deal with the protests from teachers and students:[8]

He should do what I did when I was Minister of the Interior. [...] infiltrate the movement with agents provocateurs inclined to do anything [...] And after that, with the strength of the gained population consent, [...] beat them for blood and beat for blood also those teachers that incite them. Especially the teachers. Not the elderly, of course, but the girl teachers yes.

It is alleged by British Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake that the Metropolitan Police made use of agents provocateurs during the G20 Protests in London.[9]

[edit] Canada

On August 20, 2007, three protesters in Montebello, Canada during meetings of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America were accused of being police provocateurs by Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The three masked protesters, one of whom was armed with a large rock, were asked to leave by protest organizers. After the three protesters breached the police line, they were brought to the ground, handcuffed, and taken away. The only evidence that the arrested men were police provocateurs was that the arrested men were wearing similiar shoes to the police.

Although after the protest, the police force admitted that three of their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators, they denied provoking the crowd and instigate violence. The police released a news release in french where they stated "At no time did the police of the Sûreté du Québec act as instigators or commit criminal acts," "It is not in the police force's policies, nor in its strategies, to act in that manner." "At all times, they responded within their mandate to keep order and security." [10][11]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Stratfor (2004) Radical, Anarchist Groups Pose Their Own Threat published by Stratfor, June 4, 2004 quote:

    Another common tactic is to infiltrate legitimate demonstrations in the attempt to stir widespread violence and rioting, seen most recently in a spring anti-Iraq war gathering in Vancouver, Canada. This has become so commonplace that sources within activist organizations have told STRATFOR they police their own demonstrations to prevent infiltration by fringe groups.

  2. ^ Belyaeva et al. (2007), ⧠7-8, 156-162
  3. ^ Bryan, Dominic The Anthropology of Ritual: Monitoring and Stewarding Demonstrations in Northern Ireland, Anthropology in Action, Volume 13, Numbers 1-2, January 2006, pp.22-31(10)
  4. ^ Dwyer, Jim (December 22, 2005). "New York Police Covertly Join In at Protest Rallies". The New York Times: p. A1. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60F14F83F540C718EDDAB0994DD404482. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  5. ^ Cardona, Felisa (November 7, 2008). "ACLU wants probe into police-staged DNC protest". The Denver Post: p. A1. http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_10920817. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  6. ^ Rory Carroll, John Vidal, John Hooper, David Pallister and Owen Bowcott. Men in black behind chaos: Hardliners plan 'actions' away from main protesters. The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/jul/23/globalisation.davidpallister Monday 23 July 2001.
  7. ^ FAIR. Media Advisory: Media Missing New Evidence About Genoa Violence. http://www.fair.org/activism/genoa-update.html
  8. ^ Francesco Cossiga interviewed by Andrea Cangini, Quotidiano Nazionale, 23/10/2008 Italian quote:

    "Maroni dovrebbe fare quel che feci io quand'ero ministro dell'Interno. In primo luogo, lasciare perdere gli studenti dei licei, perché pensi a cosa succederebbe se un ragazzino di dodici anni rimanesse ucciso o gravemente ferito. Gli universitari invece lasciarli fare. Ritirare le forze di polizia dalle strade e dalle università, infiltrare il movimento con agenti provocatori pronti a tutto, e lasciare che per una decina di giorni i manifestanti devastino i negozi, diano fuoco alle macchine e mettano a ferro e fuoco le città. Dopo di che, forti del consenso popolare, il suono delle sirene delle ambulanze dovrà sovrastare quello delle auto di polizia e carabinieri. Nel senso che le forze dell'ordine dovrebbero massacrare i manifestanti senza pietà e mandarli tutti in ospedale. Non arrestarli, che tanto poi i magistrati li rimetterebbero subito in libertà, ma picchiarli a sangue e picchiare a sangue anche quei docenti che li fomentano. Soprattutto i docenti. Non quelli anziani, certo, ma le maestre ragazzine sì."

  9. ^ Doward, Jamie; Townsend, Mark (May 10, 2009). "G20 police 'used undercover men to incite crowds'". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/10/g20-policing-agent-provacateurs. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  10. ^ Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest
  11. ^ "Police accused of using provocateurs at summit". The Star (Toronto). August 21, 2007. http://www.thestar.com/News/article/248608. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 

[edit] References




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