People baffle me. What kind of person spends seven years pretending to be someone they’re not?
In the UK, environmental and direct action activists are finding out that a close friend and comrade was an undercover agent for the Metro police for seven years. PC Mark Kennedy (known to UK activist circles as “Mark Stone”) organized with anti-racist, anarchist, climate justice and direct action organizers and campaigners. Kennedy wasn’t just reporting on their activities, but also organizing and prompting activities himself.
In other words, he was an agent provocateur.
In 2009, over 100 activists were preemptively arrested the night before they’d planned to enter the Radcliffe power station and shut it down using non-violent direct action tactics. Twenty-six of the activists were charged with conspiracy to commit trespass. Twenty of them turned their trial into a media showcase on coal-fired power generation and its impact on the climate, with climatologist James Hansen testifying on their behalf. They were convicted and the judge gave them a very lenient sentence
The other six had been arguing that they were not planning on going into Radcliffe and therefore were not part of the conspiracy, but now it turns out they don’t have to worry about the trial.
Kennedy helped organize this action and most likely tipped off the police. Kennedy scouted the location and suggested “the best and easiest way” to get into the plant. Furthermore, according to legal documents, Kennedy “continued to participate, including hiring, paying for and driving a vehicle and volunteering to be one of two principal climbers who would attach himself to the [coal-carrying] conveyor belt. He actively encouraged participation in the action and expressed the view that he was pleased it was going to be an action of some significance.”
Definitely an agent provocateur (IMHO.)
Kennedy resigned and now lives abroad in hiding. According to media reports, the government’s £2 million operative has now “gone native” and has offered to defend the eco-activists. Quite an investment for the authorities.
Furthermore, Kennedy has made it known that a second undercover agent infiltrated the UK’s environmental movement, and even divulged that agent’s identity. Snitches snitching on snitches. Gotta love it.
The Metropolitan police refused to turn over documents about Kennedy’s work, therefore forfeiting the case. They claim without the information from Kennedy there is no longer sufficient evidence to move forward with a trial.
We know that the US also has a history of trying to neutralize social movements with undercovers, informants and lots of other criminal behavior. In the 1960’s and 70’s, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation waged a covert war against anti-war and liberation movements like the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement. The Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, used informants, provocateurs, assassinations and prosecutorial misconduct to target the social movements of the time.
In recent years, the U.S. feds have gone after anarchists, anti-corporate globalization activists and peace activists. This is popularly known as “The Green Scare,” as opposed to “The Red Scare.” The case of PC Mark Kennedy falls into this category.
Not only are the cases of people like Mark Kennedy designed to infiltrate, survey and disrupt our work, but they also create a culture of fear and paranoia, which is counterproductive to organizing social movements. There will always be snitches and always be provocateurs, but our movements need to figure out ways to remain inclusive and transparent in spite of them.