Seattle Protesters Wary of Undercover Officers In Their Midst


Way to go, Nikkita and all. U Village and all malls should be availed of the message you bring, including the fact that singing and walking are not illegal. And thanks to Ansel for bringing the news that even Sean Whitcomb can be shamed by the stupid maneuvers of his overfunded sloppily brutal department.
Could they have been mall cops, like the Westlake Center thugs, gathering info for the mall? It's a really weird reaction that you report from the Eddie Bauer people.

If not for the cooperation of Eddie Bauer, I would wonder if they were tea partiers/gun rights activists, whose behavior would seem to constitute a threat.
In which Ansel fails to understand the distinction between plainclothes and undercover.

Could you next time perhaps ask some of those protesters about the Agents Provocateur in their midst? Please? Pretty please?
They definitely aren't mall cops, from the pictures above. I was working at U-Vil last night when this was going down and all I saw were tons of seattle PD officers and only the 2 girls following the police on bikes.

You missed Ansel's failure to write "grown ass men" as "grown-ass men," too. Is it "grown" modifying "ass men" or is it "grown ass" modifying "men"? And also, don't you think he uses more commas than absolutely necessary? Why do you need a comma after "last night"?

A real journalist would get that shit right, but a hack like Ansel? He's going to keep on using those commas like they grow on trees..

Actually, why don't you explain what the difference is? Because upon rereading it, it looks like Ansel's pretty clear about what he means by undercover. The only time anyone is described as plainclothes is when Ansel's paraphrasing Sgt. Whitcomb.
These are the professional protesters the police union head was talking about on Monday. IC.
Were these the same guys? They were at the Capitol Hill May Day protest in 2013. Obviously police.....…
Sorry this link:
So they were silently walking around, singing?
Bullshit SPD doesn't "do undercover". I've encountered them doing buy/busts on Capitol Hill. They're fucking thugs.
This is some fucked up "secret police" shit. SPD, please leave the creepy shadow ops bullshit to the Feds, please.

It is precisely in paraphrasing Whitcomb that Ansel seems to miss the distinction.

Plainclothes officers are just on duty but not in uniform. Undercover officers are take on a particular persona over the course of an investigation. Revealing the identity of an undercover police officer would compromise an investigation. Revealing the identity of a plainclothes cop shouldn't be a huge deal, especially after the fact, but the SPD seems reluctant for some reason.

Ansel doesn't seem to realize that undercover operations wouldn't be known to every police department employee; there would be some sort of need-to-know security in place.
You say SPD, I say Stasi.
SPD, Stasi, Stasi, SPD
Lets shut the whole thing down.
Always remember your burner phones are hacked too. All of them.

No I can't tell you how I know that.
seems legit...
I know who's getting coal in their stockings this year. These assholes.

I see. That's my understanding of the difference, too. And I interpreted Ansel's paraphrase as an indication that Sgt. Whitcomb was being evasive--that is, that he deliberately said plainclothes to avoid suggesting that there were any plants.
Wow Ansel, nice work.

I mean that for once.
Ansel - no conspiracy theory too small...
U-village is bold choice. The trendy moms in yoga pants probably raised an eyebrow, or crinkled their nose.
Taxpayer dollars at work folks!
@ 8 & 9, those aren't cops or feds.
kept on toes to complain the need for surveillance is great
This is nothing new, people. Google Cointelpro.
The case law is clear. The police may go anywhere the public can go, without a warrant. Having a party where every Tom, Dick, and Harry walking by is just walking into an open door and joining the party, and the cops can go there without a warrant, even if its private property. Marching in a public place or on mall property and the cops can go there to. It's not like the marchers are on private property and its invitation only. You march in a public space and anyone can join your group whether you want them to or not. It could be marchers that don't agree with you, and it could be the cops.

Grow up!
Next time do what I do and just take their picture without asking. If they're in public, as you know, you can do that. And THEN watch their reaction. What fumbling silly cops. There were several out tonight and I got pictures of some and one didn't seem too happy about it, the one who looks most like a sergeant or captain. Keep up the good work.
PS: Ansel, don't listen to small minds and there are lots of small minds, and minds with hidden agendas. I always appreciate your reporting.
Undercover Officers in the midst of a protest.... yeah totally believable expected really it'd be stupid not to have them there.
Congratulations, Ansel, based on the comments, you've apparently inherited Dom's loyal following of The Guardian readership.
34-35 Nice try, SPD
Much like WTO and every protest involving a major civil-rights issue after, the SPD has installed agent-provocateurs to keep protests "short" by having someone who would, if things drug on, do something provocative and allow officers to "mop up" with violent reprisals to clear the area. Unfortunately, this is nothing new.
@36 and 37


your peeps behave like shit...own it.
@29- So anything behavior that is legal is right?
@39. If it is legal it is permissible. To stop someone from doing something they are legally entitled to do is unlawfully take their liberty.

It cuts both ways too. See 31's comments about taking pictures of people in the street that protesters think might be plain clothes cops. Nobody on the street, including plain clothes cops, has an expectation of privacy. If you or someone else wants to shoot a photo of them, that is your right.

These are the rules we have determined we will live by as a society through upholding the 1st Amendment, and having democratically elected people enact laws. If you don't like those rules, convince a majority of your fellow citizens to elect different legislators.
@40- What you seem to be implying is that we should not criticize people for doing legal things.

This is absurd. No one is claiming the cops shouldn't be allowed to go to the mall.

What people are saying is that the cops behavior is counter productive. That intimidating peaceful protesters (legally) isn't something we want our tax money spent on.

Shushing us because the cops aren't breaking the laws (in this case) is nonsensical. You really ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Of course the police were there in force. With good reason. Protests related to the Michael Brown shooting - in Ferguson and around the country - have been violent affairs with destruction of property and dangerous behavior like walking onto freeways. Including right here in Seattle. The cops didn't interfere with any of the protestors in U Village, nor did they deny anybody their "rights". The police were there in case the protestors once again got out of hand and started destroying property and/or threatening violence. That's their job.

The cops would not be bothering you if you didn't show up acting like douchebags(scaring the shit out of little kids at an X-tree lighting...really?) or breaking other people's stuff(windows, damage to cars, etc..)

it it were me, I would shoot every last one of you who is out to damage property and intimidate other people just going about their business.

@43- You have no place in a democracy.

so in your demented mind, democracy is all about vandalizing and damaging other peoples stuff? LOL

You are correct, I want no part of your version of democracy, which is nothing more than mob rules.

break other peoples stuff, then expect to get your ass beat down. its that simple....bring it.

your type, along with all the other losers out there breaking shit, contribute NOTHING to this society.
@43 - The complete irony of your statement is obviously lost on you...
Posted on this very same page the day before:

We Asked 12 People at a Ferguson Protest: What Do You Want?

"I want a dead cop. An eye for an eye, a cop must die."

Hmmmmm... I wonder why the SPD would want to use undercover cops to find out what protestors are planning and what they are up to.

Until Seattle protestor class rids itself of the destructive, violent (spoiled suburban punk) element in their midst - expect cops to be slightly, uh, on edge.
@45- Killing people for petty crimes is for authoritarians.
@41. Why would the police walking among you be "intimidating"? If you weren't, as the Westlake and Pacific Place demonstrators did, going to interfere with other freedom of assembly and movement in the mall, or in the streets surrounding the mall, then what have you got to fear? If you were going to leave, if the private property owner of U-Village asked you to, then what have you go to fear? You also have the police there if near-do-wells infiltrate your march, and start busting crap up, to arrest them and allow you to continue your 1st Amendment exercise.

What you and your marchers practiced at U-Village, but other marchers consistently have not, was the exercise of your 1st Amendment rights to free speech, free assembly (which requires free movement) while respecting the rights of those around you to do likewise and while respecting the right of the property owner to control who is on their property, and for what purpose.

The police should be there, using whatever lawful tactics they need, to preserve that balance. That should intimidate no one.
@51 - You say "The police should be there, using whatever lawful tactics they need, to preserve that balance. That should intimidate no one."

You are assuming that the police use lawful tactics, which they do not. Proof of that is the Michael Brown/Ferguson case and Eric Garner/Staten Island case. The police faced no indictment. They got off free for killing unarmed men. John T. Williams here in Seattle is another case of shooting an unarmed man - also a minority like Brown and Garner. So, pardon us if we find the police intimidating. We just don't want to get shot.

Pure Stasi. Solution: everybody wear concealed body cams during these events, walk right up to them and tweet their ass faces.
Just spitballing, but could it be that these weren't cops at all, but just freelance opportunists looking for trouble?

LOL...I dare you to say that to an German who lived in east Germany. He would school your dumb ass up on what the Stasi were all about.

you little kids are clueless....its no wonder you are all moochers.
Interesting how the police go undercover at peaceful demonstrations. Do they do the same for Tea Bagger rallies?
@56 I doubt the cops show up undercover at Tea Party rallies. Wanna know why? Because the Tea Party rallies are/were always lawful and peaceful. They never devolved into a riot. There was never gunfire or Molotov cocktails or glass bottles directed at law enforcement. There was no property damage, no fires, no looting, no overturned cop cars. Hell, the Tea Party even cleaned up it's own trash after their events.

I know it's very easy for the simpleminded to look for sinister motives, and for the especially depraved - such as yourself - the race card is always right at the top of the deck waiting to be played. But the facts tell a different story.
@51- "Why would the police walking among you be "intimidating"?"

Because a dozen heavily armed and armored men dressed in all black who appear to be immune to any rules regarding murder are kind of intimidating for some reason. And if you don't see how that works, then there really isn't much hope for you.

Maybe if the cops did something like help people recover stolen property and such the citizens of Seattle would have a better relationship with them.
@51- BTW you keep assuming I was there. I was not.

The standard is

1- If they are wearing a mask of any sort

2- If they came alone

3- If they are aggressing or trying to get others to join them in aggressing

= Considering them undercovers. 70% of the time, these people are undercovers. The other 30%, they should be treated as such because they are endangering the legitimacy of the protest with their actions. Between the OWS protests, the WTC protests, the Anti War protests and the "arrest ian burke" protests, Seattle decent folks should be able to spot an undercover with ease. The SPD arent exactly the best (or even marginally acceptable) at anything they do. That includes going undercover.

Other hints include:

-Male and Not showing hair or have an obvious wig (Most cops keep to the buzzcut, and hair is something you cannot grow out in a week after being assigned undercover duty).

-Cop aggressive demeanor. Hard to describe, but weve all literally seen it. Looks similar to enlisted army newby demeanor, only more arrogant, aggressive and (believe it or not) frightened.
Should have also added:

-Aggressively attempts to engage young white strangers also at the protest. These are the people they want to convince into doing something violent.

They stay away from older people because they know older people are less likely to get 'hyped up' and resort to violence. They stay away from blacks (and often latinos) because they know blacks will naturally be suspicious of them + they usually cant hold up the act (as any black person knows, its easy to notice when someone racist is being fake towards you...its difficult to describe, but anyone over 18 has experienced it a few times...especially from cops).
From my reading, the issue of plainclothes cops in the area of the protest is not the creepy thing about this article. It's this: "Even before the demonstrators arrived at their meeting spot in the parking lot of a neighboring Safeway, the police were already thereā€”at least ten police with batons and helmets standing in a group, a few feet away from where protesters huddled and talked in the cold."

"Marissa Johnson and Nikkita Oliver, a UW law student, told me they'd organized the protest via text message and didn't advertise it on social media because they wanted to avoid the heavy police presence they'd experienced the previous night in downtown Seattle."

Given the fact that there were no arrests, no violence going on, and no disruption of the Mall going on (the march took two hours with no arrests - that's a CLUE) the protestations of various commenters here that 'the protesters deserve being watched' and 'cops can go anywhere in public' is not relevant critique of the concern shown in the article.

Re-read the First Amendment. There isn't anything in there about Government deciding what forms of protest need to have armed men following people around who are law abiding, based solely on their intent to protest the murder of an unarmed man and the escape of his killer from the wheels of the Just Us System.

Now re-read the wiretap statutes. There is an awful lot in there about private communications unless certain conditions apply, and I don't see any of those conditions applying here.
@60, @61

If it's that easy to spot troublemakers, then why won't protest organizers prohibit the participation of the sorts of people you describe? Is it really so hard to use ask them to leave, and publicly shame them if they don't?

During OWS, core members of General Assemblies emphatically refused to prohibit your masked young provocateurs from participating. And ever since, protest organizers have taken exactly zero action to rid themselves of these troublemakers.

That's kind of suspicious, isn't it? Are all of these leftist organizers on the payroll of the police, too, do you think?

Because the protests arent 'organized', for that specific reason. Didnt you read the story? Thats the whole point. The NYT had a story also earlier about the NYPD's counter terrorism unit bitching about how the protesters were staying one step ahead by gathering and informing using social media.

The days of Officer Bully Conner casual showing up to a civil rights protest and egging on attendants for arrest ended with OWS. People are smarter than that now, especially post OWS and post Snowdengate.

Also, if you think OWS was organized, you obviously only read about it in the paper.
#64 you'll have to excuse Mr. Slave (Robo to his friends). He subscribes to and actually believes the manifesto a week style of political organizing those tiny toons crank out. Since people like him rarely leave their house and actually engage with real live anarchist people, he believes whatever the cops say about about mythical revolutionary cadres organizing an army of the night to systematically take down civilized society. He is a product of a law school education who lives an unfulfilled life of paranoia and libertarian fantasy, to be treated with patience and caution.

Are you ever going to be honest about the smashist faction of contemporary Anarchism?

Or are you going to cling to that "only police agent provocateurs smash things" party line, no matter how hard people laugh at you?
@63- " then why won't protest organizers prohibit the participation of the sorts of people you describe?"

Because the protest organizers don't have the power to keep people off the public streets.

What are they supposed to do, beat them up?

I dunno, maybe they could consider, say, refusing to start a march until these easily identified police plants leave? Use the megaphone to shame easily identifiable police plants? Surround these obvious police plants, and put legitimate protester bodies between the obvious police plants and the plate glass windows?

Maybe publish advance materials saying people who fit this obvious police plant profile will be asked to leave, and publicly shamed, instead of what they actually do: publish advance materials saying protesters should allow everyone to "run wild", asking everyone to respect a "diversity of tactics," and by the way please refrain from taking photographs of protesters who match this obvious police-plant profile?
#68 wow, ever go to any of these protests? The blac bloc chickenshits or police plants (really doesn't matter to me who they are), usually show up about half way along the march, try to blend in, fuck shit up, fade away again. Some of them have been confronted and contained, they usually pretend indignant innocence, shout about 'security culture', ect. They do get their pictures taken to compare with pictures of obvious plainclothes and uniformed cops who don't cover THEIR faces. Some of them are cops, some are paid informants, some are just assholes. In fact, since there is no shortage of assholes, cops usually just let them do their work for them, for free.

These 'advance materials' you're reading are just more shit pounded out by bookstore anarchists who couldn't organize themselves out of a wet paper bag. The only people who read them are other pencil necks with a taste for black fashion clothing, cops, and lurkers like yourself who keep trying to justify more Grand Jurries for broken court house windows. Don't you ever get tired, RS?
@60 is basically correct. However, good undercover won't fit that profile