Get the Cops on Our Side?

Oct 9, 2011

Get the Cops on Our Side?

At a point a little over an hour into the Occupy Vancouver meeting held in the Woodwards atrium on the afternoon of Saturday 8 Oct 2011, a young woman expressed concern over a leaflet that had been distributed. [A pdf scan of her marked-up leaflet is provided with this story.]

In a crowd of 300 to 400 people, with difficult acoustics and a "human microphone" set-up, all communication took place through mass repetition of short phrases. Constraints of the forum limited the commenter to four main points about the leaflet:

  Expressing concern about origin
  Describing leaflet text about police
  Calling for diversity of tactics
  Insisting on no support for snitch culture

One audience member immediately asked what "snitch culture" was, but the question was not heard or responded to.

The leaflet was disowned by the event facilitators.

The scan fails to capture the almost unreadable ghostly gray header to the right of the question-mark-headed logo:

REVOLUTION: a how-to
from anonymous to the citizens of the world. Enjoy!

The following correspondences can be noted between the leaflet and what the facilitators said and did:

  The opening outline of agenda topics, in order, was legalities, media, food, kids
  The event and October 15 were both described as "general assembly"
  A set of hand gestures was established for crowd feedback
  A "people's mic" was employed
  Desire was evident to shift rapidly from general discussion to work in committees

If the leaflet did not originate with Occupy Vancouver organizers, speculation quickly leads toward a disinformation strategy on the part of authorities. The prominence given to the first paragraph — How to Handle Law Enforcement — and its content (fear arrest, impede fellow activists, work for the police) make the rest of the page look like filler designed to camouflage the core message. What comes first counts the most.