Getting away with it – Security culture and direct action
We can’t get arrested every day. On some actions carried out covertly or otherwise, you may not want to end up getting nicked, charged and convicted.
Video and camera footage from independent and corporate media can be obtained and analysed by police. Police evidence gatherers and Forward Intelligence Teams regularly snoop on activists and, as happened following the Great Climate Swoop, people can be picked up later and charged over events that happened months before.
For this reason many people choose to conceal their identities on actions by masking up. There’s this misguided idea that masking up is about looking intimidating and is therefore wrong. This isn’t true – it’s about recognising the radical idea that some people might actually want to run at a fence with boltcroppers and stay free to take action again another day.
There is scope for creativity within this – animal masks, pink blocs and ‘greenwash detector’ white forensics masks being possible ideas. However, it is important to consider co-ordination on this – if everyone wears the same coloured clothes and masks, it makes it a lot more difficult for police to target individuals and snatch them out of the crowd. Make sure you do it properly – tattoos, hair and piercings should all be covered.
And lastly, a plea to photographers – ASK before taking photos of people on actions. Even if they’re not masked up, don’t assume that it’s okay. Your footage will be analysed by the police, and activist footage has led to convictions. It is never okay to put somebody else’s freedom at risk. We play into the hands of the police if we do this.