Met wipes out entire 'FIT Watch' website
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
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
guardian.co.uk, 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
didnt predict the disorder because it wasnt
planned; the march wasnt 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.
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