FIT Watch was set up a couple of months ago to oppose and monitor the activities of the Forward Intelligence Teams. These are cops who routinely harass and intimidate protesters (for full background see www.fitwatch.blogspot.com). Whilst we’ve had a presence at a couple of public meetings, Climate Camp has been our first opportunity to practice our tactics in a protest situation
FIT Watch can be done by anyone and can be as passive or as confrontational as you wish. Here are some tactics we have found to be effective:
1. Holding large banners in front of photographers. This is particularly effective with double sheets on sticks which can block a camera from a distance. This is the least confrontational way of blocking photography.
2. Taking photos of them. They really don’t like this but it isn’t illegal. With any photos it’s always good to either try and get the cop’s number in the shot, or note it down.
3. Following the FIT. Pick a team and tail them. Turn their tactics onto them – everything time they send a text message look over their shoulder, listen to their phone conversations, look at what they’re writing in their notebooks.
4. Watch out for group huddles, especially with senior officers and go and unobtrusively stand by them. This disrupts their briefings and there’s always the possibility you might learn some useful information.
5. Upload any information gathered about the FIT to www.fitwatch.blogspot.com or email to email@example.com
6. Put yourself physically in the way of the camera men by standing constantly in front of the camera and constantly shadowing them. This has been the most confrontational tactic used so far and has therefore been the one people have been arrested for. However it has also been possible to do this without arrest.
CAUTIONARY NOTE: ANY ACTION INVOLVING THIS LEVEL OF PROXIMITY TO FIT TEAMS MEANS THEY WILL TRY AND ENGAGE YOU IN CONVERSATION. DO NOT ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS.
Two people have been arrested for Obstructing the police in the course of their duty this week. They were both charged and pleaded not guilty. Any witnesses should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
There have been many rumours as to why the FIT teams made their incursions into camp on Tuesday night. Some people say it was a response to being pissed off with FIT Watch, others that it was a test to see how we would react. Another theory is they were trying to kick something off as shown by the presence off vans of TSG and ambulances.
However they weren’t expecting the strong response from the camp and violently pushed, kicked and hit people. A combination of strength of numbers and people willing to push them back forced them off site and people felt empowered by this victory. However it was not the non violent victory reported in many places. People rightly acted in self defence and we would not have got them off site if we had simply walked towards them with our hands in the air as has been described in some places. Some people did raise their hands, but this was only after the cops had backed off the site.
FIT Watch is working, but we need more people. The next big event is DSEi and it’d be great if people carry on the FIT Watch tactics.