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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Police PR blunder raises alarm

A police counter-terrorist briefing document may well have been designed as “a guide to help them identify and understand the range of organisations they might come across” as they claim, but the clear impression being given is that they are seeking to smear legitimate and non-violent protest groups who are exercising their democratic rights. I am not surprised that those identified in the briefing are angry and confused.

The Guardian reports that the document, which was distributed to medical staff and teachers as part of anti-extremism briefings, included Greenpeace, Peta and other non-violent groups as well as neo-Nazis. The guide, produced by Counter Terrorism Policing, is used across England as part of training for Prevent, the anti-radicalisation scheme designed to catch those at risk of committing terrorist violence:

Last week, police said documents uncovered by the Guardian that listed the environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion (XR) alongside far-right extremists and jihadists were a local error.

But the list of groups viewed as a potential concern contained in the new 24-page document includes Extinction Rebellion. It also includes Greenpeace – among whose supporters are Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Gillian Anderson and Joanna Lumley – and the ocean pollution campaigners Sea Shepherd, whose supporters include Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. Also included is Stop the Badger Cull, which is backed by Sir Brian May, the Queen guitarist.

They appear alongside a number of extremist rightwing groups including Combat 18 and the National Front, as well as National Action, which has been banned for terrorist violence. The last page of an accompanying visual guide seen by the Guardian advises people to report “any concerns identified via this document” using an online portal for reporting suspicious activity that is operated by Counter Terrorism Policing under the slogan: “Action counters terrorism”.

Police insist the guide is not meant to portray all the groups that it features as extremist and thus needing to be reported to them. They said it is meant to boost understanding of the signs and symbols people may come across, and point to a statement in the document that “not all of the signs and symbols noted within this document are of counter terrorism interest”.

However, on the visual guide the disclaimer appears to refer specifically to a set of religious and historical symbols used by white supremacists including “Odin’s Rune’, “SS Runes” and “Thor’s Hammer”. Mainstream leftwing and environmental groups are not similarly marked.

Either somebody is deliberately trying to squash legitimate campaigning organisations or it is time for the authors of this document to have lessons on basic democracy, freedom and the right to protest.
the brexiteer right wingers will target groups that do not agree with them . the police lack of thought as to what they were advised makes them the scapegoats. it reminds me of animal farm (george orwell) where napoleon re-rights the animal rules to his advantage. also 1984,give 'fake news' the ministry of truth ,which is distorted to give people fear and suppress opinions. both books show relevance to what is happening today.
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