Tag Archives: Earth First!

Radio ramblings: on Interference FM and the need for mass communications to sustain mass movements

Interference FM J18 flyer 1

In times like these – a post-truth world of alternative facts – having access to the tools of mass communication is essential; but then so it ever was, even in the pre-blog, pre-Twitter, pre-YouTube era (if you can imagine such a palaeolithic era).

In the late 1990s, a confluence of environmental activists, anarchists and socialists helped build a transnational anti-capitalist, ‘anti-globalisation [of the rich]’ movement, helped in no small part by energy, enthusiasm, tactical successes and growing public disquiet.

In the UK this growing movement necessitated (given the antipathy of the mainstream media) the creation of effective communication channels, both for internal discussion and to reach outside. In time these included things such as the SchNEWS weekly alternative news sheet, Squall magazine (for ‘sorted itinerants’), the monthly Earth First! Action Update and the EF! journal Do Or Die, each of which helped facilitate nationally (and even internationally) wider discourse between and amongst what were often localised campaigns and groups. As online technology and culture grew, so this movement also sequestered tools such as email discussion lists. Similarly, as video cameras became more of a mass market commodity, so too did this movement appropriate the trappings of television and film, either with wholly produced ‘video magazines’ (such as Undercurrents and iContact) or by providing activist-shot footage to the mainstream news programmes.

And then there was the trusty old radio. Of course, whilst the reception equipment for radio was ubiquitous (for all intents and purposes every single person in the land had at least one radio), the transmission side of things was firmly in the grip of those licensed by the state – big, fusty old ‘public’ bodies such as the BBC, or else avaricious commercial beasts locked into the current economic and social status quo. However, bar the legal niceties of radio broadcasting, in terms of the cash costs and complexity of technology set against potential audience reach and likelihood of getting away with it, radio – more specifically, illegal pirate radio – was a no-brainer.

So it was that in the mid- to late nineties a small group of people connected to both music pirates and anti-capitalist politics set about fusing these two worlds together, and providing the means for mass communication beyond of the boundaries of state control and commercial imperatives, to a political groundswell aiming at becoming a mass movement. It all came to a head in the lengthy preparations which built to the J18 ‘Carnival Against Capitalism’ (AKA ‘Global Street Party’ etc) in June 1999, of which one autonomous component was the ‘Interference FM’ pirate radio group.

There’s a decent summary of the J18 radio project and the setting up of Interference FM/Radio Interference, with links to various articles on the Pirate Radio Archive.

But anyway, a nice excuse to post these flyers.* Oh, and here’s a spread from The Big Issue magazine, under the groansome title of ‘MUSIC FArticle on Interference FM in The Big Issue #352 (1999)OR YOUR BUCCANEARS’:

» Article on Interference FM in The Big Issue #352 (1999)

Interference FM J18 flyer 2

  • The flyers were put together with torn-off bits of old paper, newspaper financial pages, the stickers from TDK D90 cassettes, and appropriated bits of Carlos Ezquerra artwork from his and Pat Mills‘ near future dystopian comic strip ‘Third World War’, which ran in Crisis from the late 80s to the early 90s. Oh, and look – EMAIL ADDRESS! MOBILE PHONE NUMBER!! REQUESTS FOR MINIDISKS!!!

Mayday! Mayday! Help needed to fill in the blanks on spycop Bob Lambert’s timeline…

So Bob, how big a lie was it? “About this big...”

Hey Dr Bob, on average how big were the lies you told? “About this big…”

Cross-posted on the URG blog

So just what did former spycop, SDS manager and – to borrow a hackneyed media cliché oft wheeled out for Mayday – so-called academic Bob Lambert get up to in the late 1990s?

After spending rather a lot of time working on a series of articles about our old friend Dr Bob for the Undercover Research Group‘s wiki project, it struck me that it’s just not clear what Lambert did between leaving SDS sometime after August 1998, and the establishment of the Muslim Contact Unit in January 2002.

Biographies – which no doubt he himself supplied – indicate that Lambert remained with Metropolitan Police Special Branch since joining it in 1980. For example, the blurb on Lambert following his article ‘Reflections on Counter-Terrorism Partnerships in Britain’  for the Cordoba Foundation magazine Arches issue number 5 (January-February 2007)  notes that “Bob worked continuously as a Special Branch specialist counter-terrorist/counter-extremist intelligence officer from 1980” until the setting up of MCU at the beginning of 2002).

Certainly, no evidence has so far come up to suggest he was involved in, for example, Territorial Policing; that he was transferred to other Special Branch-equivalent units such as the Anti-Terrorist Branch; or that he transferred to a police force other than the Metropolitan Police Service.

By implication, Lambert seems likely to have been working in a different unit or units within MPSB during this time period. The Arches biography mentioned above notes that from beginning in MPSB in 1980 until 2006 or 2007, Lambert had dealt “with all forms of violent political threats to the UK, from Irish republican to the many strands of International terrorism.” Whilst his work on international terrorism at E Squad has already been noted, an involvement in Irish republican matters would suggest time served in B Squad (though it is by no means clear whether that would have occurred at this point of his career or in Lambert’s pre-SDS years).

One further hint at what Lambert got up to in the interregnum between his times at SDS and MCU is in his colourful description of watching the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center:

As the first twin tower shrunk to the ground, anti-military and anti-globalisation campaigners abandoned a picket of an international arms fair in London’s docklands. Inside New Scotland Yard’s public order control room attention switched from screens with departing protesters to the televised attack on the World Trade Center. No one could quite comprehend the enormity of what was happening in New York and Washington.*

Whilst the passage is written opaquely, it implies that Lambert was himself “inside New Scotland Yard’s public order control room”, surveilling the September 2001 Disarm DSEi protest against a biennial arms fair. Activist groups participating included Campaign Against Arms Trade, the WOMBLES, Earth First!, Reclaim The Streets and others. If Lambert was in the control room watching over the demonstrations, then it would further imply that he may have been working in C Squad, the MPSB body interested in what would now be termed ‘domestic extremism’, or S Squad, the parent unit of SDS which specialised in surveillance and intelligence gathering.

(As an aside, at least two undercover police officers were involved on the ground at the 2001 DSEi protests: ‘Jason Bishop’, believed to be working for Lambert’s old unit SDS, and ‘Rod Richardson’, thought to be one of the first infiltrators to be deployed by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). According to Rob Branbury, an activist targeted by Bishop, the undercover officer called him that day when news of 9/11 broke to sound him out, “as if he wanted to know what people thought about the attack to the Twin Towers.”)

But anyway, what about Dr Bob?

Come on, hivemind – let’s fill in those missing years 1998-2001!

* Lambert’s claim that “campaigners abandoned a picket” of DSEi in this way is simply not true. American 11 hit 1 WTC at 0846, New York time – around a quarter to two in the afternoon in London. United 175 hit 2 WTC at 0903. 2 WTC collapsed at 0958, and 1 WTC a half-hour later at 1028. Many protesters at DSEi were aware of all this – the news having been broadcast around the site on a soundsystem – and some watched a live feed of the second airplane crashing into the World Trade Center on a screen in a media organisation’s outside broadcast van.
Whilst many reporters swiftly left the site, the anti-arms fair actions continued at the West Gate until at least half past four (more than an hour after the second tower collapsed), when a large group moved off en masse. A smaller group, with a large ‘POLICE AGAINST THE ARMS TRADE’ banner, remained at West Gate until at least 6pm. See, for example, IMC-UK, ‘Fiesta for Life in the Docklands 2001’, Indymedia UK, 11 September 2001; or Andy Robertson, ‘DSEI Arms Fair. September 11 2001’, Squall, September 2001 (accessed via Archive.org).

Green scare UK: Observer wages police’s proxy war on eco-activists

Police warn of growing threat from eco-terrorists

Fear of deadly attack by lone maverick as officers alert major firms to danger of green extremism

By Mark Townsend and Nick Denning

(The Observer, 9 November 2008)

Police have warned of the growing threat of eco-terrorism after revealing they are investigating a group which has supporters who believe that reducing the Earth’s population by four-fifths will help to protect the planet.

Officers from a specialist unit dedicated to tackling domestic terrorism are monitoring an eco-movement called Earth First! which has advocates who state that cutting the Earth’s population by 80 per cent will ease pressure on other species. Officers are concerned a ‘lone maverick’ eco-extremist may attempt a terrorist attack aimed at killing large numbers of Britons.

The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, which collates intelligence and advice to police forces, has revealed that eco-activists are researching a list of target companies which they believe are major polluters or are exacerbating the threat of climate change.

The unit is currently monitoring blogs and internet traffic connected to a network of UK climate camps and radical environmental movements under the umbrella of Earth First!, which has claimed responsibility for a series of criminal acts in recent months.

A senior source at the unit said it had growing evidence of a threat from eco-activists. ‘We have found statements that four-fifths of the human population has to die for other species in the world to survive.

‘There are a number of very dedicated individuals out there and they could be dangerous to other people.’

Earth First! says its mission is ‘about direct action to halt the destruction of the Earth’ and advocates ‘civil disobedience and monkeywrenching’, tactics that include sabotage and disruptive behaviour. The movement has links to US environmental extremists which have waged a campaign of violence in America, including the firebombing of a string of 4×4 car dealerships in California in 2003 and alleged arson attacks on other property.

The anti-extremist unit has already alerted a number of major companies which have been accused of being carbon polluters with advice on how they can withstand being targeted by eco-terrorists. Companies are thought to include airport operator BAA, an international mining conglomerate BHP Billiton and firms connected to UK coal-fired power stations.

‘They are doing research of possible targets, looking at shareholders and financiers. For example, they could research an airline and see how many of its aircraft are not environmentally friendly,’ said the NETCU source.

Although green extremists have yet to embark on an orchestrated campaign of violence in the UK, officers warn that they may be about to launch a campaign of intimidation and fear aimed at disrupting businesses. ‘For some people, if they can justify it in their minds, then it’s a noble cause even if it’s a criminal action. They haven’t started yet, but we believe they will come up with a strategy and tactics,’ said the source at the unit, who described the movement as well-funded and organised.

A spate of recent attacks, for which Earth First! supporters have claimed responsibility, has included vandalism of branches of seven German banks such as Deutsche Bank and Allianz AG. The actions were apparently because the banks hold shares in UK Coal, which plans to build new coal-fired power stations.

A statement on the Earth First! website explains the attacks by saying: ‘Exploitation of the environment and people by the state and industry go hand in hand. They cannot be separated and both must be attacked. Social war, not climate chaos.’

Another attack hit a quarry in Staffordshire which belongs to Bardon Aggregates, a company hat also owns a controversial quarry at Glensanda on the north-west coast of Scotland. The Scottish quarry is accused of spoiling the Highlands environment. The Earth First! website states: ‘We slashed tyres, stripped paint jobs, glued locks and trashed conveyor belts. All the earth movers were hit and many of the cement and aggregate trucks. This action cost us very little but should cost Bardon thousands.’

Among the network of groups under the Earth First! umbrella are various climate camps. Last August police found a stash of knives and weapons beside one such camp in Kent. Protesters, however, said they had nothing to do with the weapons and accused police of launching a ‘smear campaign’.

A spokesman for Derby Earth First! said the movement was strictly non-violent, if not always law-abiding. He said: ‘If someone does ecological damage we would perhaps break the law and protect the ecology, but the ecology also includes humans.

‘We’re all about communities. Capitalism is the problem and we want to return to a more sustainable time. But we are not about reducing the population, that is just scaremongering by the police.’

The rise of eco-extremism coincides with the fall of the animal rights activist movement. Police said the animal rights movement was in ‘disarray’ and that its ringleaders had either been prosecuted or were awaiting prosecution, adding that its ‘critical mass’ of hardcore extremists was sufficiently depleted to have halted its effectiveness. Last Thursday a prominent animal rights activist accused of planting petrol bombs at Oxford University was cleared of possessing an explosive substance with intent.

Reports on the Earth First! Journal website, which tells users how to send encrypted emails, reveals connections to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) which has been linked to a series of violent attacks in the US. ELF was classified as the top domestic terrorism threat in the US by the FBI in March 2001.

The ELF was founded in 1992 in Brighton by members of the Earth First! movement who wanted to form a breakaway group that would use more extreme tactics.

There’s so much that should be said about this, but I don’t have the time at the moment, so here’s a few convenient bullet points:

  • Unnamed, anonymous, uncorroborated source
  • No serious attempt to verify any of the claims
  • No background to NETCU
  • Smear and innuendo used in place of facts and evidence

All in all, an odd ‘news’ story in that there appears to be no news event on which to hang it – it’s almost as though The Observer is simply repeating a line fed to them by NETCU in line with NETCU’s own strategic or tactical objectives. Surely not!

And here’s a few links:

ETA mk4 (Thursday):

Some more links to blogs picking up on this:

Internet coup! NETCU anti-protest guide hits the public domain

Oops! Police at the Climate Camp in Kent have dropped a clanger – or more specifically a copy of their demonstrators=turrists handbook, the NETCU Policing Protest Pocket Legislation Guide (“For Police Use Only”).

NETCU? Who they? Well, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit “forms part of the national policing response to domestic extremism”, and gives advice to individual police forces and other ‘enforcement agencies’ relating to this. There’s even a handy little biography on the inside page of Policing Protest (with even handier contact details):

NETCU provides tactical advice and guidance on policing single-issue domestic extremism. The unit also supports companies and other organisations that are the targets of domestic extremism campaigns. NETCU reports through the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism (NCDE) to the Association of Chief Police Officers Terrorism and Allied Matters – ACPO(TAM) committee.

National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU)
PO Box 525, Huntingdon, PE29 9AL
Tel: 01480 425091
Fax: 01480 425007
Email: mailbox@netcu.pnn.police.uk
Web: http://www.netcu.org.uk

Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to public authorities in England and Wales. Under the Act, organisations listed in Schedule 1 to the Act – either by name or by description – have to provide public access to information they hold. NETCU is not a public authority as defined by Schedule 1 and therefore there are no obligations on NETCU to disclose information under the Act. Police forces are advised not to release this guide following freedom of information requests.

Edition 2 – November 2007

It could be seen as a successor to projects such as ARNI, the Animal RIghts National Index which was subsequently rolled out to encompass a wide range of environmental and social activists.

One can also see it in the context of the ‘Green Scare‘, the post-COINTELPRO pursuit of the ELF and others in the United States.

And let us also consider NETCU’s targeting of groups it considers to be engaged in ‘tertiary terrorism’ (most notably animal rights campaigns such as SHAC).

From creating databases which log the activities of entirely lawful groups and individuals, through to the arbitrary casting of politically-motivated behaviours beyond the spheres of the lawful, unlawful or criminal into the less rationally-bound romper room labelled terrorism (with all its attendant emotional responses); that is the nature of the NETCU game.

In other words, through bureaucratic manoeuvring, artless sophistry and ideologically-motivated authoritarianism, NETCU shifts the goalposts for what passes for legal protest. Thus a terrorist is not defined by her or his actions, but by having been labelled a terrorist (by way of ‘domestic extremist’). Thus terrorism is not “the systematic use of terror, esp as a means of coercion” (Penguin Pocket English Dictionary, 1990), it is any activity undertaken by those previously defined by the new terms of reference as ‘terrorists’.

That the NETCU website is liberally sprinkled with pictures of yogurt-weaving peace marchers, clowns(!) and, erm, the Countryside Alliance should give an indication of exactly whom the organisation considers a ‘domestic extremist’ – that’s right, pretty much anyone who ever dares dissent from the Westminster-approved script.

So read the Policing Protest book and find out how you should behave in future lest you accidentally become a dangerous terrorist.

Links:

Striking dock workers + revolting RTS types

Watched the Jimmy McGovern film Dockers today. It’s a dramatisation of the long strike at Merseyside docks, in which dockworkers fought against intolerable conditions and the drive towards casualisation. The film was cowritten by some of the striking dockers and members of the Women of the Waterfront support organisation, and is worth a look.

Anyway, found a nice video of the big ‘March For Social Justice’/’Never Mind The Ballots’ event in London in April 1996, co-organised by the Liverpool dockers and Reclaim The Streets. Some familiar faces…

Laughing at policemen (all the way to Millbank)

Tomorrow is the Police Federation rally and march down in that there Lunnon.

Apparently coppers aren’t paid enough. Apparently police “regularly face danger in the course of their duties”. Apparently “the demands and requirements of the office of constable cannot be compared with any other occupation”.

So, our clip-on tie-wearing friends in serge have decided that they are, in fact, the horny-handed vanguard of the workers. They are even talking about the possibility of forming a trades union should their noble struggle for “an element of compensation for the move from a private sector index to a public sector index at the most disadvantageous time” be rebuffed by the government – rousing words indeed.

So, should you wish to get behind these brave custodians of the streets and their selfless cause, you can join their demonstration and let them know what you think of them.

It will assemble on Park Lane at the junction with Achilles Way from 10am, and will head towards Millbank via Hyde Park Corner, Grosvenor Place, Lower Grosvenor Place, Bressenden Place, Victoria Street, Artillery Row, Great Peter Street, Marsham Street and Horseferry Road, before dispersing at the Tate.

If you are concerned about the orderliness of the event, you can pop along to the stewards’ briefing at Central Hall at 8.30am (there’ll even be tea and coffee, and come to think of it, probably breakfast doughnuts).

If that still hasn’t set your mind at rest, fear not:

The event will be policed by the Metropolitan Police Public Order Team who are responsible for public safety and public order. Approximately 100 Metropolitan Federation stewards will assist the police to marshall [sic] the rally in accordance with the agreed route and plan. They will be ably assisted by stewards from Federation branch boards.

Don’t you feel safer already?

Well, it seems the porkers themselves are feeling a little nervous:

Our march has received a lot of media attention. It is therefore possible that small groups with any grievance against the police may seek to stage counter demonstrations. The Metropolitan Police are monitoring this, and if need be, will deal with any impromptu protests. We would ask that you do not react to any taunts, do not get involved and allow our Metropolitan colleagues to police as they see appropriate. We do not want other peoples’ protests to become the story of the day.

Ooooooh, narky!

After all, what possible “grievance” might anyone have with the polis?

If you want to find out, well, you could pop along to the ‘Boo A Bobby’ event organised entirely coincidentally by London Class War. Quite by chance they’ve only gone and called it for 11am at Achilles Lane on the very same day!

Similarly, FITwatch* have put out a call for those wishing to ensure that “violent trouble makers and threats to public order, including veterans from J18, Mayday and G8…”** are kept under overt surveillance throughout the day to assemble at the Tyburn pub on the Edgware Road (Marble Arch tube) at 9.30am.

But let’s hope that things go swimmingly for our poor ickle jacks, and that no one deflects attention from their cause, which obviously is more important on every level than, say, pit villages, or the poll tax, or the right to free speech, or poverty…

*That* ATNA Harry Roberts poster…To download a PDF of the Police Federation’s brochure explaining all about why they’re demonstrating, click the picture on the right! (It’s the back cover from an old fanzine, All Talk No Action #3… If you want an A4-sized, 300 dpi copy, go to my Flickr 🙂 )

* FITwatch is a group of concerned citizens who disrupt unlawful, distressing or downright harassing police surveillance units – ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ – at protests.

** Hint: the ones with the blue flashing lights