“Who is the man pointing a gun at Reuters photographer Noah Berger in this photo from last night’s protests in Oakland and Berkeley, and why is he aiming his weapon at photographers and protesters?”
As people continue to march through the streets of America demanding police reforms, a Reuters photographer caught on camera undercover police agents – commonly known as agent provocateurs – starting violence Wednesday night, with one officer pointing his gun at a crowd of people.
Two officers wearing street clothes and bandanas over their faces were marching with a group through Oakland and Berkeley when someone pointed at them, yelling ‘Hey, they’re undercover, they’re cops!'”
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According to KTVU:
“One of the officers pushed a protester aside. The man responded by pushing back and then the officer tackled him to the ground, handcuffing him.
The crowd, incensed, began to gather around them. The second officer pulled out his gun and pointed it at the crowd. More officers quickly arrived and dispersed the crowd.
One Berkeley resident, Dylan, who declined to give his last name, said he pulled off the officer’s bandana.
Dylan also stated that the “two men NEVER identified themselves as police, and the protestor who was arrested struck AFTER being tackled.”
On Thursday morning, Oakland police Lt. Chris Bolton stated that the officer was not an Oakland police officer, writing “that outside agency has been notified to provide details and address concerns” regarding the officers’ behavior at the protest.
While Reuters deserves credit for catching the officers from the undisclosed agency on camera, the mainstream press has largely failed to ask why law enforcement agencies are sending undercover agents into the crowd.
In fact, these undercover police “agent provocateurs” have been spotted at many peaceful demonstrations, starting violence in order to give the police an excuse to start gassing, beating, and shooting “non-lethal” weapons at all members in the crowd.
It has long been public record that the FBI created a program named COINTELPRO aimed at posing agents as activists to disrupt civic-minded groups, going as far back to the days of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
While the extent that it was police that instigated and carried out acts of violence that was used by local law enforcement as justification for brutalizing citizens exercising their First Amendment right in Ferguson is unclear, one thing is certain. The government – from the local to the federal level – is cracking down on the people pushing for change.
A footnote – the quote in the lede is from Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing.
Update: The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that Avery Browne, chief of California Highway Patrol’s Golden Gate Division, said the agency and other police departments have had undercover officers in these marches since Nov. 24. Chief Browne claimed the still unnamed officer pulled out a badge and identified himself as law enforcement per department policy, though several members of the media and marchers reported that they did not see a badge.