Tag Archives: Mayday

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:

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