As has been seen in the aftermath of past May Days in the Pacific Northwest, the Olympia Police Department has requested the aid of the public in identifying those involved in what was deemed an “unfriendly mob” on May Day in downtown Olympia earlier this month. We can’t know for sure what this means, it could be an act of desperation because the police have no evidence or it could be that they have plenty of evidence but are waiting for a more strategic time to press charges. Let’s take this as a chance to reflect on some much needed personal concerns in the pursuit of creating a strong culture of security.
What to do, What not to do
- If you are approached by a law enforcement officer, you are not obligated to speak to them and it is highly encouraged that you let your friends know and seek legal advice immediately. Please refer to our previous post for a much more detailed run-through of this scenario.
- Don’t brag about what you did or saw at the event afterwards with your friends. Loose lips sink ships! It can be very easy to want to share exciting highs or disappointing lows from a march or action with anyone who asks about it, and in the heat of a moment forget that not everybody who wants to hear about it is necessarily on our side. This isn’t to imply that it may be your friend who turns information over to the police, but maybe a landlord, grocery store clerk, bar-tender, classmate, teacher, etc. The goal of these calls for the public to aid in the efforts of the police to identify criminals is also part of an effort to expand the policing apparatus into the larger citizenry.
- If you find yourself in need of debriefing and checking in with your friends, crew or affinity group, establish safe forms of communication that don’t incriminate you or anyone you know. Instead of saying “Oh damn, I saw Jane Doe (do something illegal)!” you could say “Wow, I saw some shit today that made me feel really excited/angry/upset/etc.“ Focus on your feelings from the event, so that you can better process through those, and not the actions of yourself or others, so as to not potentially say something that could get you or someone else in trouble.
- Dispose of anything you wore or used at the action wisely and properly. Be thorough! Marius Mason was apprehended simply because he failed to properly burn pieces of paper that tied him to a string of ELF Actions (and his partner turned rat on him). Clothes, gloves, backpacks, helmets, flags, wrist-rockets, shoes, anything that there may be a picture of somewhere.
- Consider deleting your social media accounts, or at least change your accounts to private, use a fake name and take down or make private pictures with your face. In the aftermath of revolt the police comb through social media accounts looking for information related to the events. If you are less visible on social media it means that the state is less likely to turn their attention toward you.
- Last but certainly not least, don’t panic. Generations of anarchists and radicals before us have seen waves of repression come and go, threats from the police rise and fall. If you think there may be information out there that incriminates you, stay calm and the storm will pass, with or without an arrest. Our revolt happens in the streets, in our homes, inside and outside of jail-cells. Just as we may be innocent when they accuse us in their courtrooms, we may have committed a crime but that doesn’t mean they’ll catch us.
Here’s some further reading on security culture
The “security” category on Sprout Distro has even more.