A young man of 17, Nahel, was shot dead by a cop the day before yesterday, June 27, in Nanterre, a summary execution for something that has come to be called “a hit-and-run” or “refusal to comply”, for something that appears to be trying to escape so as not to remain at the mercy of two cops ready to kill. We don’t have the words – we’re still looking for them – to express our anger and total solidarity, unconditionally and even before we know more details about what happened the press has been spewing out rumors straight from the police precinct. Here are just a few thoughts, since we feel it’s necessary to express ourselves.
17 years old, damn it.
The government tried to play down the drama to avoid direct confrontation, to protect its cops, itself and the world of shit and misery it keeps in place. In an attempt to protect themselves from the wrath of everyone, they used a disgusting technique: that of mitigation and pacification, by not skimping on the use of lies. Using the media and press statements from the various parties on the left and right, they claimed that the teenager had a criminal record (which turned out to be untrue), that the police officer was in danger (which turned out to be untrue as well), and invoked the role of mediation by the justice system and national mourning to resolve the problem. All these techniques are well tried and tested, but were ineffective yesterday and today: everyone knows that this execution is not a private dispute between a policeman and the family, nor is it an extraordinary blunder. What the press and the state are defending by smearing those they execute is the ability to maintain order at all costs, the ability to hold us at gunpoint and shoot, the right to “self-defense” of their own existence at the cost of our lives. It’s us against them. And no one cares whether they have a criminal record or not, just as no one cares whether the people the cops are targeting are on the S list (1), or whether they are unfavorably known to the CAF (2), Pôle Emploi (3) or the police. Everyone knows they have to fight, and no one seems to want to mourn in silence. While the fire department, the government, the left and all the peacemakers call for calm, Nahel’s mother courageously called for “a revolt for her son”.
Attempts to quell the anger have so far failed: the very same day, riots broke out in Nanterre, and the revolt has spread throughout the 92, part of the 93 (4), and to other cities, including Bordeaux, Lille, Nantes and Roubaix. In some places, the police were overwhelmed and wounded, and in others they fled or gave up. The second night of rioting was even more ferocious, and spread to other cities: Toulouse, Lyon, Strasbourg, Clermont-Ferrand, some parts of Paris, in the Xxème, Belleville, La Chapelle, the south of the XIIIème…, and above all to many towns in the Île-de-France region. This morning, the cleaning services are struggling to hide the traces of the revolt. Cars, buses, streetcar lines, town halls, barricades, schools and police stations are all ablaze. Stores, trucks and supermarkets have been looted. This breadth of vision to effectively target what maintains order and the relevance of the attacks, which the movement against pensions has struggled to achieve despite its scale, seems to have been envisaged after only two nights of rioting. The Fresnes prison was bravely stormed on the second night of rioting, to free the prisoners, to free us all. A breach is opening up, a breach to shake up what yesterday seemed invincible. But yesterday was November 2005. Yesterday, it was the yellow vests. Yesterday, it was May 68. Yesterday, too, we shook the State, its maintenance of order, and so we understand that this order is far from unassailable, since it is shaking.
We need to step into this breach, and we can see some of the means available to all of us, here and now. Ideally, we’d like to be able to go beyond these “few means within everyone’s reach”, and to do so we need, like the Nanterre rioters, to find new ways to be effective against our enemies, the police of the state, of capitalism, of democracy, and even more so against apathy, resignation, daily suicide and collective disinterest. All this is not normal, and must be fought, for Nahel, for M. killed in the CRA (5) in Vincennes, for the thousands of people who die on Europe’s borders, for Serge and the wounded from policing in Sainte-Soline and everywhere, and for all the others of yesterday and tomorrow, for all of us, to put an end to pity, paternalism and condescension, and with all our rage to put an end to this world and with our desire for freedom, intact.
In this battle that many of us will be fighting, let’s always remember that the enemy facing us, the one waging open war on us, is not the only one. Let’s not forget the one who is on our side, the one who recuperates and destroys from within, who suffocates and vampirizes: the left, its moralizing big brothers and its armchair sociologists, the negotiators of social peace who will very quickly try to contain and eradicate our hatred for the court of justice which, above all, is our enemy. It is this court of justice itself that prolongs the arrests. Solidarity with the 180 people arrested last night.
From Nanterre to the whole of France and the rest of the world
(1) fiché S – a list of people considered a threat to state security
(2) Caisse des Allocation Familiales – French state welfare agency
(3) Government agency that deals with unemployment
(4) 2 of the poorest working class suburbs of Paris that are known as banlieues
(5) Administrative Detention Centers that are run by the border police
Comments Off on What’s in the Contracts? Trying to Learn More about the Proposed Women’s Prison in Montreal
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
For more background information, check out this piece about who has been awarded the new contracts and a bit about the project to build a new prison for women on the island of Montreal.
The first step in fighting new development projects is usually trying to find as much information about the project as possible. That research can involve many things; since the first contracts have already been awarded for the proposed new women’s prison in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, we wanted to get our hands on them. Long story short, that was pretty difficult. The province has put some annoying security mechanisms on the contracts that makes them somewhat easy to download anonymously but very tricky to open and share. However, we’ve seen them and they don’t contain much. We wanted to share all the relevant parts here for people looking to fight the new prison.
First, the government has not been honest about the real size of the new prison. The media reported that the new prison will have the capacity to warehouse 237 people. In fact, the contract calls for buildings that can be expanded to eventually hold 405 people. Yes, it is true that the timeline of this phase of the project stops at the point where there are 237 cells, but there are clear plans, though no proposed timeline, to expand it further in the future. These numbers are bigger than the original Maison Tanguay, but smaller than the capacity at Leclerc (which, let’s not forget, is an old federal prison with a sizeable capacity in a collapsing, leaky, drafty building.).
Second, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Quebec has their hands deep in this project. For those who don’t know, E. Fry Societies exist in most provinces. There is also a national organisation with the same name. They all seem to operate autonomously from each other, with the national organisation having the most radical politics. All of them have a mandate to help women who are experiencing or who might experience conflict with the legal system. The documents state that E. Fry Quebec is part of proposing a new model for the long term incarceration of women in Quebec, including ongoing consultation on this new prison. Clearly, the prison system has a not-for-profit wing, and E. Fry Québec is part of it. This is not necessarily a change from the status quo, but a clear example of collaboration.
Third, the documents include five core things that need to be a part of the new prison. 1. The prison will be laid out in pavilions. 2. There will be different security levels adapted for different prison populations. 3. The exterior architecture will be aimed at deinstitutionalizing the buildings. 4. The interior appearance of the prison will preserve the dignity of the prisoners by offering an environment that is secure and calming. 5. The acoustics will promote the intelligibility of conversations.
What do they each mean? The first point likely means the new prison will be designed in pods. This can look different in different prisons, but, according to Escaping Tomorrow’s Cages, “pod prisons originate in a tough-on-crime approach from the 1990s when the system was preparing to lock up more people for longer. They are designed with two main considerations: cutting prisoners off from the community and saving money.”1 They also remind us that “the infrastructure matters more than the use” so we assume the trajectory of this new prison might resemble the “bungalows” that were built in some of the new regional federal women’s prisons after the closure of the Prison for Women in Kingston in the mid 90s – nicer at first, then eventually stripped down to solely their potential for surveillance and securitization.1
The second point, different security levels adapted for different carceral populations, is very clear. This trend in prison construction has been in the works for at least three decades now and is already present at many prisons in the country. It seems like the new Tanguay will have a segregation unit and a maximum security wing. Due to centuries of colonialism and white supremacy, Indigenous women are incarcerated in Canada and Quebec at high rates. There are especially high rates of Indigenous women in segregation and maximum security units.2No surprise the government wants both segregation units and a maximum security wing at this new prison.
The third requirement for this project is also part of a trend in prison construction in the last decade. By making the prison look friendly and welcoming, the government hopes that everyone will be convinced that it’s not a place where poor people and people of colour are locked up and punished. The same goes for the interior environment, which must be both calm and soothing. Basically, you need curtains on the windows and pretty pictures on the walls of the maximum security unit. Last but not least, acoustics that allow conversations to take place. This says more about the acoustics of most prisons than anything else. Prisons are very noisy. They want to try and make this one a little quieter. Someone applaud them. It was also pointed out that maybe it’s a safety issue. If conversations are more audible, they’re more recordable. It’s not clear what this is about, but it’s a not great either way.
We’ll take an aside here to preach to the choir. Prison reform is a dead end. Ann Hansen said it well in Taking the Rap; “New prisons come wrapped in progressive packaging, decorated with pictures of rehabilitation and programming, but once they are opened, out comes a shiny new prison filled with all kinds of technological gadgets designed for enhanced surveillance and security that cost so much, the prison regime claims it can no longer afford all the progressive programming promised on the packaging.”3
What else is in the documents? There is a timeline for the project. Its all planning and demolition work into 2024. Call for tenders for construction starting in May 2025. Construction slated to happen from July 2025 to April 2029. Here’s a screenshot of it.
The fifth and final thing in the documents is a list of names and responsibilities of people involved in the project. If you’re looking for some specific people to hold responsible for this project, here’s a few to start with: Project Head (project manager, SQI) is Amélie Viau. Minister’s Representative is Bruno Gosselin. Contract Manager (Head of expertise, SQI) is Nathalie Duchesneau. CGPI (integrated practice management consultant) who participates in the first steering committee and remains available to support the project team throughout the project’s mandate is Sébastien Parent. BIM Representative is Zakia Kemmar.
We’ll leave the last words to Ann Hansen; “Prison reforms are doomed to eventual failure, but that does not mean that we cannot use the fight for reform within a revolutionary context as a means of raising awareness. Real people are suffering in prisons now. If any one of us were stuck in solitary confinement for years at a time, would we want to wait for the revolution before anyone tried to help us? The answer lies in the murky grey zone between struggling for reform and struggling for revolutionary change. These struggles are a false dichotomy in which the murky grey zone can be bridged. As long as concrete campaigns for reform are framed within a revolutionary context and are guided by revolutionary principles, then they can play a role in the campaign to abolish both capitalism and its social control mechanism, prison.”4
1. From Ann Hansen’s book Taking the Rap: “Between my two short stints in GVI [Grand Valley Institution, a federal women’s prison in southern Ontario] during 2006 and then again in 2012, i witnessed the devolution of GVI from a prison compound where women cooked and lived collectively in bungalows perched neatly in grassy, tree-lined yards, where vegetables were grown in kitchen gardens and the women moved freely from eight in the morning until ten at night throughout the compound… to a multi-security prison complex with few jobs or programming and with double-bunking everywhere, including maximum-security units and segregation. This devolution unfolded in all six regional federal prisons for women during the fifteen years after P4W closed in 2000. this feat is surpassed only by the fact that the entire federal prisoner population for women actually in prison had increased by 40 percent, to 550 women, in the ten years after the closure of P4W. This in a country where the crime rates have been on a steady decline over the past two decades.” p. 336-7
Comments Off on Slogans Written on a Wall in Solidarity with G.Mihailidis
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
Slogans were written on a wall in Parc-Extension, in solidarity with G.Mihailidis.
‘Solidarity with G.Mihailidis, we want you alive and free, death to the autoritarian world’
Giannis is on hunger strike since 12/5 demanding his release from prison after having done the part of imprisonment that allows him to be released under conditions. At this point he is continuing his struggle with a thirst strike as of 10/6.
Since the opening of a new prison for migrants in Laval Quebec in October of 2022, we’ve been consistently hearing from detainees about the terrible conditions. In-person visits have been suspended, while detainees are blocked from accessing their medication, have complained of being served rotten food, and many have continued to see their mental health spiral. All this in a brand new facility, that the federal government touted as a “more humane” form of detention. Now more than ever, it is clear that detention can never be “humane”, and only ending the practice of immigration detention in its entirety can put an end to these abuses.
While we work towards our ultimate goal of abolishing immigration detention, and obtaining status for all, we are doing what we can to support detainees on a day to day basis. Although visits have been suspended, we are still able to bring deliveries to the prison. Common requests include toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and soap, socks and underwear, deodorant, cigarettes, international calling cards and clothing, especially winter clothing. These modest contributions can provide some small dignity and improve detainees’ living conditions, but more importantly, they send a message to detainees that they are not alone, that others are aware of what they are going through, and that people recognize the injustice of their mistreatment. On the outside, our deliveries keep us in touch with detainees and keep our political work grounded, as we fight alongside them for their liberation.
We are calling for donations to keep the deliveries going. Any amount that you can give can go a long way towards providing support to someone locked up inside the Laval migrant prison.
Most importantly, we need people to continually denounce Canada’s practice of imprisoning migrants. Rather than pouring millions of dollars into the construction of new prisons for migrants, like the one in Laval, the federal government needs to focus on the real solution: an ongoing and inclusive regularization program! The struggle continues until every last detainee has been liberated! Free them all, Status for All!
Comments Off on International Call For Solidarity With Anarchists In USA Atlanta
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
The struggle against cop city, and for the Weelaunee forest has been explosive, experimental, and wild for nearly three years now. In the process our enemies have brutalized us, charged people with domestic terrorism, leveraging 5-35 years in prison against them, murdered our friend and comrade Tortuguita, attempted to repress our struggle, and yet we are still here fighting.
As the forests we swore to protect get clear-cut, and people face hefty sentences leveraged by the courts, as we stare at the possibility of raids, repression, investigations, and the unknown, we desire to take the plunge. We will make our enemies pay for every inch. We will not let them know a moment of peace.
We call for the mechanisms of the US capitalist system, the government, and the infrastructure that upholds it to be moved against in an effort to make this wretched civilization and those responsible which took our friend and levies the might of their courts and police against us pay.
In our experience, most of us in North America aren’t in the habit of thinking very much about DNA traces. Information about how DNA traces are created or prevented is limited to several myths that are passed around. That said, you can be pretty certain that whenever arson is involved, a DNA forensics team will be involved too. For example, an arrest was made recently for a Jane’s Revenge arson after DNA was recovered at the crime scene. We want to briefly summarize some practical considerations. By arming ourselves with some preparation and an accurate understanding of how DNA is transferred, it is possible to drastically limit the amount of DNA we leave behind. Although DNA is something we should always keep in mind when planning our participation in a riotous moment, we don’t want people to feel overwhelmed by this information. Actionable knowledge empowers us to avoid the dual traps of recklessness (acting as if DNA doesn’t exist) and immobilization (as if leaving traces and their analysis in a laboratory is inevitable).
As noted by DNA minimization protocols in the CSRC Threat Library: “We are constantly shedding DNA in various forms; skin cells, hair, saliva, blood, and sweat are all sources of DNA, and unlike fingerprints they can never be reliably removed from an object once contaminated. DNA minimization protocols are intended to enable the manipulation of objects without leaving DNA traces on them. As you would expect, these protocols aim to eliminate skin cells, hair, air-born saliva particles, blood and sweat making contact with the objects. The chemical destruction of DNA is often also involved.” To prevent or at least significantly limit leaving DNA traces, it is necessary to wear new gloves, a face mask, a hair net or, even better, closed headgear (e.g. a swimming cap) and washed clothes with long sleeves and pant legs to cover as much skin as possible.
In the context of a riotous moment, there are several things to prepare for:
Either smash it or burn it – not both. Smashing something can sometimes involve a lot of contact with the object, which risks transferring DNA traces to the object in question (especially if you have to climb onto it). Sustained fire will destroy DNA traces, but for an object that is first smashed and then burned this is no guarantee; the parts of the object that have been touched may not be sufficiently heated by the flames to destroy all traces. In the context of a riot, this means that people with incendiary intentions should try to take initiative early, before people with smashy intentions hit up a given target. A scenario that is less than ideal: a crowd smashes up a car, perhaps someone touches the car with gloves that have been worn many times (and so have accumulated DNA on them) or cuts themselves on the broken window, then a few minutes later someone torches the car. An ideal scenario: the car is burned first, which requires no smashing – either an accelerant bottle is placed under the front tire (faster, under a minute) or firestarter cubes are placed on the front tire (slower, about five minutes). It is sometimes necessary to break either a window or a door to gain access to a building, but machinery and vehicles can be burned without any smashing by positioning accelerant in the right location.
Wear new impermeable gloves which you’ve never previously touched, and put them on last once you’ve already changed into black bloc. This is because you want to avoid any skin, hair or sweat on the outside of the gloves, which could then be transferred to any objects you touch. Always handle tools that you are bringing with such a new pair of gloves, even if you don’t plan on ditching the tools. Take care that the tools you are using, and especially the projectiles you are leaving at the site, have been free of your DNA from the beginning, and transport them carefully. Dishwashing gloves are excellent for preparing for the action (when standing out doesn’t matter). For during a riot, you can use work gloves that have a thick impermeable coating on the palms and fingers. Have an extra pair that you can change into in case you mistakenly touch your face or something similar.
If you’ll be using a hammer, practice breaking windows in a controlled environment before the heat of the moment. Blood is a very obvious source of DNA to even the most incompetent investigator. The main thing is to make sure that your hand or arm never passes beyond the window, which requires that you generate force from the wrist rather than the elbow or shoulder. A quick wrist flick generates sufficient force with a properly weighted hammer.
Be careful to not have anything that can fall out during the ruckus – closed zippers are your friend. Be especially cautious if rummaging through bags or backpacks.
Any clothing used during the riot should not be recovered by the forensics team if it can be avoided. The days of leaving a giant heap of black hoodies in the middle of the street should come to an end – clothing will generally have DNA traces on it. Ideally, you would take clothing far enough away to be able to dispose of it properly (either burn it or put it somewhere where if it is found, it won’t be considered as related to the riot). A judgement call will be required when deciding whether to try to carry the clothing far away or whether to hide it somewhere on your dispersal route. If searched, black clothing may be enough to lay charges but is unlikely to result in a conviction by itself. Any identifiable clothing or other items in the bag could be more incriminating, so you’ll need to assess the risk of a bag search and weigh it against the goal of keeping your rioting clothing out of the hands of the police. Objects that cannot be concealed in a backpack (like large shields) can be hidden, or coated with bleach (which has around 10% sodium hypochlorite – see further reading) or burned with accelerant that is placed on the exit route ahead of time (in plastic bottles that will burn, not in a jerry can).
Don’t use tape to construct firework molotovs. Tape is a magnet for DNA. Rather, use plastic zip-ties to secure the firework to the bottle. Ideally there should be two fireworks for redundancy, to minimize the likelihood of an unexploded molotov being recovered. Moreover, take DNA minimization precautions when constructing and transporting the molotovs (again, see further reading). This is especially important if they have to be ditched before being used. Fireworks on their own will likely be equally effective at keeping police at bay without risking the same level of repression that molotovs entail – care should also be taken to not leave DNA traces on firework casings. Traditional molotovs (using a glass bottle) need to hit a hard surface to shatter and so are unreliable when thrown inside of buildings. For example, at the site of the first Jane’s Revenge arson, DNA of three individuals was found on an unexploded molotov, the window glass, and a lighter (criminal complaint available here, use Tor Browser).
International Coordination Against Targeted Surveillance
We are anarchists. We believe in an international coordination of informal anarchist groups to pursue the fight against all forms of domination. We believe that sharing knowledge about our enemies’ capabilities and tactics should be an important part of that coordination. The knowledge is not an end in itself, but a means to limit our chances of being caught so we can continue attacking.
Our enemies have great capabilities and perfected tactics. On their side they have the police and justice systems, the scientists and technocrats, and in some cases the support of the general population. They control vast infrastructure networks. They have infinite memory, archives and DNA databases.
On our side, we have the informal and decentralized nature of our organizations, shadows to hide in, and solidarity to help each other in difficult times, to continue the fights of comrades who cannot do so anymore.
No matter what, we make and will continue to make mistakes in the battle against such strong oppressive mechanisms. Mistakes that will always “cost” more compared to the cops’ mistakes which are “absorbed”. We must weigh the situations again and ensure that the mistakes which happened once simply can not happen again. We must study and appreciate the accumulated experience of so many years and, taking into account the tendency to prepare for the battles which already took place and not for those that will come, let’s be prepared and may luck be on our side…
anarchist comrades from Greece, in a text detailing the surveillance that led to their arrests, 2013
Our enemies already organize on an international level; they share information, tactics, and technological and scientific developments. This is unfortunate, but it also means that a report by comrades in one country — on, say, a good way to deal with DNA traces, or a bug found in a squat, or a cheap tool to take down police drones — could help others anywhere else in the world.
Certainly, not everything should be shared publicly. Sometimes, information still unknown to our enemies should remain secret based on a specific strategy or plan. But otherwise: let’s share knowledge and experiences, and organize ourselves!
Announcing: The Threat Library
The goal behind the Counter-Surveillance Resource Center’s newly released Threat Library is simple: looking at the state’s array of repressive techniques and in order to better outmaneuver them. The Library documents two dozen different policing techniques, splitting them into three tactics (deterrence, incrimination, and arrest), and offering potential mitigations, meaning ways of reducing damage, for each one. It also connects techniques to specific repressive operations carried out by the state against anarchists in the past couple of decades.
The Threat Library is meant to help you threat model, a process through which you try to understand what kinds of measures the state is likely to be taking against you so that you can prepare for them. This exercise is best done collaboratively with the comrades you are working with on a specific project. Good threat modeling can transform fear or paranoia into courage, by giving us a specific idea of what we are up against so we can take precautions. In other words, it helps us decide on appropriate Operational Security (OpSec).
The CSRC suggests using the Threat Library to make ‘attack trees’. “Attack trees are a tool to facilitate a collective brainstorming exercise on the different ways that an adversary could successfully attack you in a given context, by representing the attacks in a tree structure.” See the Threat Library tutorial for a step-by-step guide on their use.
The Threat Library can also be used to navigate resources outside of a threat modeling exercise. Suppose that anarchists in my area have a history of infiltrators and informants being used to break up our organizing. Under the “Incrimination” tab, I select “infiltrators.” In no more than 300 words, the entry breaks down the five main types of infiltrators and offers three possible mitigations (attack, need to know principle, and network map exercise). If I click on the “Infiltrators topic” button, I’m given a list of 27 texts written by anarchists about infiltrators in their networks. My fear of infiltrators is eased by knowing what specific signs to look for and with some practical tools for strengthening my networks of trust.
With topics ranging from door knocks to house raids to forensics, the Threat Library aims to be thorough while also staying brief and to the point. The CSRC has a huge amount of information about repression and how to deal with it, and the Threat Library summarizes and sorts it all for you so it’s practical and easy to parse. The Threat Library is available in zine format for easy reading and distribution.
Is there a technique, mitigation, or repressive operation that you think is missing? Would you like to edit one that is currently listed? To add, improve, give criticism or feedback to the Threat Library, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Base to Stand On: Distinguishing OpSec and Security Culture
Sometimes related terms become synonyms, and sometimes that can be fine. English is full of them, like “amazing” and “awesome”— no one misses the difference between these words.
Sometimes though, allowing the difference between terms to get lost also causes us to lose a useful piece of meaning. Operational security (OpSec) and security culture are two terms that have similar but distinct meanings, and both are required parts of an anarchist practice of security against repression.
OpSec refers to the specific practices used to avoid getting caught for a given action or project. Some OpSec practices include wearing gloves and masks, using different shoes, measures to avoid leaving DNA, black bloc clothing, using Tails for anonymous Internet access, and so on. OpSec is on the level of the action or project. These practices can be taught, but ultimately only the people doing a specific project together need to agree on which OpSec practices to use.
According to Confidence Courage Connection Trust: “Security culture refers to a set of practices developed to assess risks, control the flow of information through your networks, and to build solid organizing relationships.” Security culture occurs on the level of the relationship or the network. These practices need to be shared as widely as possible to be effective.
At first glance, OpSec might seem more important. If we have the practices we need to be safe, the thinking goes, then what does it matter what other people in the milieu do? Many anarchists are (justifiably) skeptical of milieus and don’t see themselves as connected to or reliant on people they don’t have close affinity with. A lot of energy in the anarchist space goes into perfecting OpSec, which seems appropriate, since if you want to take offensive action, it’s preferable to not get caught.
However, security culture is also important, and good OpSec is no replacement for it. It provides the social context—the base—on which all our activity is built. Because, like it or not, we are all embedded in networks, and the price of fully cutting yourself off from them is high. Without a stable base, it is much harder to take action safely.
Going back to Confidence Courage Connection Trust, the authors write that security culture is not about closing up, but finding ways to safely stay open to connections with others. It involves having honest conversations about risk and setting some basic norms with broader networks than just the people we intend to act with. Security culture is not static—it’s not just a set of rules that people in “radical” subcultures should know. It needs to be dynamic, based on ongoing conversations and our best analysis of current repression patterns.
Practices like vouching, network mapping, and background checks might seem like OpSec and may be an important part of planning certain actions, but they come out of security culture. Security culture involves asking, “what would it take for me to trust you?” It doesn’t mean you need to vouch everyone you know or that you don’t spend time with people you don’t vouch, just that you’re clear about who you trust with what, and why, and that you have mechanisms for learning to trust new people safely.
No amount of good habits about how to talk about actions that occur in your town (security culture) will protect you if you leave DNA at the scene (OpSec), and no amount of detecting physical surveillance (OpSec) will protect you from the undercover cop who befriended your roommate in order to get close to you (security culture). OpSec and security culture practices are distinct and one is not a substitute for the other. By developing a more thorough understanding of both frameworks we can try to keep ourselves and each other out of prison while continuing to build connections and expand informal networks of affinity.
Snippets Against Surveillance
In this section, we’d like to share short notes that are within the scope of the CSRC, but did not warrant having their own entry on the website. You can send us such notes if you want them published in the next issue.
In 2021, several people were arrested in France following the arson of vehicles belonging to Enedis (responsible for managing the electricity distribution network in France), and of an important relay antenna. A text in French details the interesting range of surveillance techniques that preceded their arrests: tailing, taking DNA from a car handle while its owner was shopping, entering a home at night to install a keylogger on a computer, asking Enedis to provide the list of people who refused installation of the new “smart” electricity meter that they are installing everywhere, and asking a local journal to provide the IP addresses that accessed their article on the arson.
In 2022, two anarchists were arrested in Italy and charged with fabrication and possession of explosive material. A text explains that the investigation that led to the arrests started when an “unknown person” found explosive material, electrical material and other devices in a forest in June 2021. Afterwards, the cops set up photo/video traps to “catch” anyone who went near the area. Subsequently a person was photographed from behind near the spot, and the police subsequently alleged to have recognized and identified them.
To end this section, here’s a hopeful quote from a communique claiming responsibility for the arson of a prison construction office in Germany:
In order not to produce good pictures on the surveillance cameras, we wore rain ponchos to disguise our body shape and gait. To make our head shape unrecognizable, we used hats. The further development of video analysis worries many comrades. With this insight we want to show possibilities to resist against this surveillance technique.
Contribute to CSRC!
We propose to use the CSRC website to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences on the topic of targeted surveillance among comrades.
I heard this a lot in 2012, when I was a baby anarchist, new to the raucus culture of the Montréal manif. Back then, the chant was often accompanied by a bevy of ironic sig heils directed at the police. It always felt a bit uncomfortable to find oneself in a crowd of largely white people making Nazi salutes, and eventually those ironic sig heils even caused a minor scandal in the anglophone press. The media uproar surely involved a great deal of bad faith, navel-gazing, and quotes from centre-right advocacy organizations, but at the end of the day it’s hard to argue that Nazi salutes (ironic or not) are anything but a bad look.
In the years that followed, the sig heils (thankfully) dissapeared from the protest culture of Montréal’s streets, and for a while it seemed that maybe the SS-PVM chants were gone too. But recently I’ve been hearing them again, not just at big demos full of liberal student-types but at demos organized by anarchists and anti-fascists—the comrades I tend to hope might know better. Even worse, the chant now seems to have been memorialized on a spiffy new bannière de tête.
So what’s up with this chant, and why won’t it die? Essentially it says to the SPVM: “you are the state’s secret police, used to repress social movements and political dissidents, much like—famous example from history—the Schutzstaffel, e.g. the SS.”
For those who skipped history class, the SS was a paramilitary wing of the Nazi state, instrumental in the implementation of the Final Solution. It oversaw the deportation of Jews across Europe, ran the death camps for which the Nazi regime is so well-remembered, and participated in the mass extermination of Jews on the Eastern Front, in what is often called the “Holocaust by bullets”.
Under the command of the SS, the Gestapo was the political police force of Nazi Germany. It investigated, rounded up, and liquidated dissidents and “enemies of the state”: queers, communists, trade unionists, Jews, and Roma. Before the war, the Gestapo was the de facto enforcer of Nazi race laws, and during the war, it orchestrated mass deportations and participated in mass killings. It is the Gestapo, presumablly, that is the “police politique” of our aforementioned demo chant.
So why am I telling you things that you likely already know about Nazis? What does any of this matter? In short, I think it matters how we talk about history, and how we use history in our political discourse in the present. And because I think that comparing the SPVM to the SS is a generally bad and frustrating analogy.
Now let’s be very clear, I’m certainly not here to convince you that, actually, the SPVM are some pretty alright dudes. Nor am I worried, for instance, that by comparing our local cops to the SS, we are being too mean. I am all for bullying cops. Please be very mean to the police.
What’s more, I have no doubt that, like many police forces, the SPVM has more than a handful of neo-fascists in its ranks. And as the armed enforcers of a racist social order, it comes as no suprise that the SPVM has also been responsible for numerous extra-judicial murders of racialized people.
My issue with comparing the SPVM to the SS is not a liberal fear of overstating just how bad the SPVM are. Rather, my concern is that, in comparing the SPVM to the SS, we risk obscuring the nature of the SS itself. Let’s go back to the chant in question: “SSPVM! Police politique.” It seems notable here that we’ve chosen to chant “police politique” rather than, for example, “police raciste” or “police génocidaire“. I think that says something about the subjectivity of the chant, or at least about the analysis of history it implies.
One might imagine a not-so-different chant, in a slightly different context, that uses one of the more visible historic genocides (the Holocaust) to point out police complicity in the genocidal project of settler statecraft. That would be, I think, a pretty different kind of conversation to have. But the “police politique” chant is not a chant about genocide, and that’s probably what makes it so uncomfortable.
The chant points out (correctly) that the SPVM is an instrument of political repression, and then compares it to another historic police body that was also an instrument of political repression… among other things. And the nature of those other things matters quite a lot. Because we would be remiss to remember the SS primarily as the henchman of anti-leftist repression, rather than primarily as the henchman of genocide.
At best, we make it sound like we think that the SS was more or less just like your standard 21st-century, North American, municipal police force: murderous, racist, certainly our enemy, but definitely not responsible for the coordinated extermination of millions of people. And, like other peddlers of ill-conceived Holocaust analogies—think of anti-vaxxers with yellow stars—it starts to sounds like maybe we did skip history class after all. An earlier, snarkier title for this text was: “I came for the annual anti-police riot, and all I got was some softcore Holocaust revisionism.” And while I ultimately revised this title, I think that the orginal still points to something important about the poltics of memory, and about the distortion of history by way of analogy to the present.
In 2023 this also feels like a more dangerous way to distort history than it did back in 2012… It’s 2023 and, only a few months ago, a former U.S. president sat down for dinner with a popular Holocaust denier; neo-Nazis keep showing up to harass people outside drag shows, shuls, and Broadway musicals; #hitlerdidnothingwrong is trending on Twitter again; and armed fascist attacks on mosques, synagogues, and gay bars have started to feel a little too familiar.
In lots of ways the mainstreaming of neo-Nazi ideas relies on overt or implicit Holocaust denial. Sure, there are always some whackjobs that will tell you that those six million Jews totally deserved to get it, but if you want to praise Hitler in the 21st century, it’s probably a lot easier to simply distort the facts of the genocide in the first place. Your 21st-century Holocaust revisionist will throw up their hands and say things like: “Oh sure, some people died in P.O.W. camps from typhus and malnourishment, but that’s just par for the course during a war… Were there really gas chambers? Was there really a genocide?”
Or as the lawyer for local neo-Nazi shitposter, Gabriel Sohier Chaput, recently said in a Montréal courtroom: “According to the dictionary, nazism means National Socialism. It was an ideology. There was no initial plan to exterminate the Jews. Were there really six million victims? I think if people died in concentration camps, it was to save money.”
To be sure, no one at any leftist demo I’ve attended in Montréal has been chanting anything remotely close to “Did / six / mil- / -lion / real- / -ly / die?” or whatever. But I guess it’s still harder to brush off an ill-conceived Holocaust analogy in a moment when Holocaust distortion, outright Holocaust denial, and various flavours of neo-Nazism are enjoying unprecedented mainstream approval.
Now look, I get it. Who doesn’t like to engage in some “everything I hate is literally Hitler” discourse from time to time? But by now, if you’re still unclear on the difference between the SPVM and the SS, then, oh boy, do I have a book (or ten) for you. And assuming that you can tell the difference between tear gas and Zyklon B, shouldn’t you feel at least a little embarrassed to find yourself in a crowd of people who seem kinda hazy on the details of what it was the SS actually did? I know I do…
The Legal Self-Defense Committee of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC) is getting its Legal Self-Defense Fund back together. The fund aims to support people who are victims of police or legal repression for alleged acts committed in the context of individual or collective actions with an anti-capitalist, feminist, anti-colonial or anti-racist scope.
We need your contributions to help the Fund! Following the large mobilizations of 2012, several legal funds were created to support those arrested, but for the past few years, these have not been available, including the one at CLAC until now. We are starting a new legal fund to support people arrested for political activities, because it is important to support arrested people financially so that they can face the government’s biased and unjust police and judicial systems.
By cheque Write the cheque to “Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes” and send it at the following adress:
CLAC-Montréal / QPIRG-Concordia c/o Université Concordia 1455 de Maisonneuve O Montréal, Quebec H3G 1M8
Write “Legal Defense Fund” on the cheque, so that we know it’s for the Fund
By interac e-transfer Send it to: finance @ clac-montreal.net With the security question: “Legal defense”, And the answer: “fund”. If you are doing a donation specifically to the Atlanta solidarity campaign: Write the question: “Atlanta solidarity” And the answer: “stopcopcity”.
Comments Off on Banner Drop for Welaunee Forest Defenders
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
Militarization and expansion of police power is a global threat. The fight back against the Cop City development project in Atlanta mirrors other local struggles everywhere. This solid and long standing frontline struggle represents how the destruction of natural habitats is interconnected with state violence and repression.
At the edge of Welaunee forest, every cop pushed back with fireworks and every piece of construction equipment set ablaze is welcomed with cheer from companions all over turtle island and beyond.
We made and dropped this banner in Montréal in solidarity with all the arrestees in Altanta, even the innocent ones. We will never forget Tortuguita.