Met wipes out entire 'FIT Watch' website

Tony Gosling tony at
Tue Nov 16 14:13:26 GMT 2010

They've closed down the Fitwatch site, but we'll carry on resisting

Suspending the Fitwatch website after we gave 
advice to student protesters looks like an attempt by police to prevent dissent

Emily Apple, Tuesday 16 November 2010 13.01 GMT

Fitwatch has been suspended by police after 
giving advice to students worried about facing 
arrest following the Millbank protests. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA

Yesterday evening, I received a text from a 
friend asking if I knew the Fitwatch website had 
been suspended. I checked our email account and 
discovered it had been closed for a minimum of 12 
months on the behest of the Metropolitan police 
for "attempting to pervert the course of justice" 
for a post giving advice to students worried 
about facing arrest following the Millbank protests last week.

Fitwatch was formed three years ago as a 
street-level response to intimidation and 
harassment from the forward intelligence teams 
(Fits), with tactics ranging from blocking 
cameras to printing numbers, names and 
photographs of known police officers on our blog, 
and offering advice to demonstrators about staying safe in protest situations.

Through our research, and criminal trials for 
blocking police cameras, Fitwatch has been 
instrumental in bringing much of the information 
about protester databases and the domestic 
extremist units into the public domain.

Our success in challenging the behaviour of Fits 
has obviously made us unpopular with the police, 
and there have been various attempts to 
intimidate us over the last three years.

However, the closing of our website is a new 
direction with worrying implications for bloggers 
everywhere. Fitwatch has been highly critical of 
policing strategies, and only a few hours before 
the site was taken down published a piece 
criticising the way the police have been seeking 
to capitalise on the protests to justify further 
repression and to avoid cuts in their budgets. 
This is a highly suspicious attempt at preventing 
dissent and it must be resisted.

Unfortunately for the police, this is already 
happening. The offending post has been spreading 
rapidly around the internet since last night, and 
the support we've received has been phenomenal. 
This is not the end of Fitwatch – we will carry 
on resisting intimidatory policing and fighting for the rights of protesters.

Last Fitwatch post before the site was suspended

Fitwatch | 16.11.2010 03:23 | Public sector cuts | Repression
Whilst we strongly suspect it was our advice to 
student protesters which led to the Met police 
contacting our host to suspend our site, this was 
the last article posted on the site.

Police seek to capitalise on student to justify 
further repression and their own budgets.

Although the actions of the students last week were inspiring and
empowering, it should come as no surprise the media savvy police are
using it as an ideal opportunity to both fight back against cuts to
their budgets and to counter the recent bad press regarding protest

The NCDE domestic extremist units claim to have 
suffered in the cuts. Former head of NCDE, Anton 
Setchell has retired, and head of NETCU, Steve 
Pearl has been given the boot, and both have been 
replaced by a cheaper, junior model - Detective 
Chief Supt Adrian Tudway. Steve seems particularly upset about getting
sacked and has been whining to the Telegraph 
about how, if he was still running the units, 
their intelligence on the riots would have been better.

As usual, he is talking nonsense. The police 
didn’t predict the disorder because it wasn’t 
planned; the march wasn’t hijacked. I read the 
same websites as the cops, I know lots of 
activists, the intelligence we all had before the 
demo would have been similar. Yes, there were 
rumours of civil disobedience, and autonomous blocs, but
this is true of every major demonstration. It 
would certainly have been true on the entirely 
peaceful February 15 Iraq demo, and there was no 
particular reason to believe this would be any different.

This is a desperate attempt by an unpopular unit 
to appear relevant and we must not be fooled. 
NCDE are bleating about cuts when only a few 
weeks ago they were squandering money sending Ian 
Caswell to Plymouth to monitor and photograph Trident Ploughshares pacifists.

The students who occupied Millbank are not 
domestic extremists, they are angry, brave and 
passionate people who care about what this 
government is doing to the country. They have 
grown up witnessing the futility of being herded 
from A to B and listening to the platitudes of irrelevant politicians.

Ordinary people are angry with even a Daily Star 
poll showing the majority in favour of the 
students rioting. The fight back is on, and no 
amount of intelligence on the usual suspects from 
a redundant unit is going to make a difference.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

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