Victims of police spying are giving the world a clear message about police spying. Through a series of postcards, they are delivering the message:
I didn’t deserve to be spied upon. No one deserves it.
Postcards and stories
Police Spies Out of Lives (PSOOL) is a legal support group for people who have been spied on by undercover officers. It has released a series of postcards to highlight the stories of some of those who were targeted for police infiltration.
The campaign also highlights a fundamental point about police spying on campaigners:
We all have a right to campaign for change without fear of State abuse.
Working on a community allotment
One of the postcards highlights the story of a woman who worked on an allotment with asylum seekers:
Our new postcard is now online: https://t.co/KuUv3NbM3j I worked in my community allotment with asylum seekers. I didn't deserve to be spied on. Nobody deserves to be spied on. #spycops @copscampaign pic.twitter.com/8nvrR8FCTj
— Police Spies Out (@out_of_lives) February 13, 2018
According to her story:
I was a volunteer at my local city farm. I ran a gardening club, mostly with asylum seekers, refugees and other unemployed people. I spent most of my time growing organic salads and vegetables. I can’t think of a single piece of useful intelligence that the police might have got from me, despite putting an undercover police officer right into my life.
She also says that she was “collateral damage”, because they were on the “periphery of the scene or movement that the police were interested in”.
Another of the postcards highlights a person who was spied upon because they helped make banners for an anti-fascist protest:
I made banners for anti fascist demonstrations. I was involved in a community centre in the town I lived in. A lot of my friends, who I met there, were politically aware, involved in local campaigns, were members of trade unions where they worked, supported good causes, & so on. pic.twitter.com/idvQWalmgd
— Police Spies Out (@out_of_lives) February 12, 2018
The police also targeted those who were active in trade unions:
— Police Spies Out (@out_of_lives) February 11, 2018
But the police didn’t just spy on trade union activists; they allegedly passed on information to firms like The Consulting Association. This information was used to blacklist workers. And many of those blacklisted found themselves unable to work.
A further image shows another group targeted by undercover officers:
@copscampaign Today we're celebrating some of the "criminal damage" done to walls, fences & adverts by campaigners through the years, and making the point that nobody, whatever their tactics, deserved the kind of intrusive political policing performed by the #spycops units pic.twitter.com/zsKUojFrb4
— Police Spies Out (@out_of_lives) February 11, 2018
The group was involved in “direct action” against “advertising”:
We would spray messages on billboards which we considered sexist.
And they were also involved in “subvertising”:
As we got older we began doing more “subvertising”, where we’d change the advert more subtly, so it wasn’t immediately obvious that it had been doctored. I think we made a lot of people stop and think. And made some of them laugh.
One of the women involved was targeted by an undercover officer who deceived her into having a sexual relationship with him:
However I found out last year that one of the men who I met at that time was actually an undercover cop. He came out spray-painting with us a couple of times. I considered him mostly a friend, but we ended up in bed together several times.
Out of our lives
These images aptly demonstrate the absurdity of a police spying operation against campaigners that has lasted decades. Officers stole the identities of dead children, had sexual relationships with activists, and spied on grieving families. Whether it is community gardening, trade union rights, or minor criminal damage, these people are not hardened criminals. They are not involved in organised crime. And they did not deserve this infiltration in their lives for simply wanting to make the world a better place.
– Support Police Spies Out of Our Lives.
– Support the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance.
Featured image via David Mirzoeff
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?